• U.S.

Politics: Changing the Rules – Again

2 minute read

Expediency is often the father of contention. In a hurried effort to placate Jesse Jackson at last summer’s Democratic Convention, Michael Dukakis and his forces ratified significant changes in the party’s complex rules governing presidential nominating procedures. One alteration would drastically cut the number of superdelegates, party leaders who automatically become unpledged delegates. Another requires that all primaries and caucuses award delegates on the basis of proportional representation, as opposed to giving extra delegates to the winner in some state contests.

Democratic honchos fear that the new rules will make it even more difficult for a candidate to wrap up the nomination before convention time and give Jackson a definite leg up in the 1992 race. Last week two white party | strategists, Thomas Donilon and Robert Beckel, circulated a paper that argues for a return to the previous rules. In a thinly veiled reference to Jackson, the report says the new system “rewards those candidates who have goals other than the nomination.” D.N.C. chief Ron Brown has said he does not want to “reopen that can of worms,” but by supporting the new rules he risks appearing to be a tool for Jackson. One possible solution: keep the new procedures but move major primaries, like California’s, to earlier dates to narrow the field of competitors by March.

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