Everybody, it seems, wants to have first say in the 2008 presidential nominating process. For years, the Iowa Caucuses, followed by the New Hampshire primary, have winnowed the field of candidates. This election cycle, it seems that everybody's out to get a piece of our action. The latest challenger: Wyoming.
This week, Wyoming Republicans moved their delegate selection convention to Jan. 5, putting them in first place -- for now. We fully expect Iowa and New Hampshire to respond to this latest challenge to preserve our status as first-in-the-nation.
To keep track of who is leapfrogging, you need a program. Here is where we stand as of today: South Carolina Republicans moved their primary to Jan. 19, forcing Iowa and New Hampshire to reconsider their dates to maintain their early status. Iowa caucuses had been scheduled for Jan. 14 and New Hampshire's primary was tentatively set for Jan. 22. Nevada is scheduled to vote on Jan. 19. Florida Democrats have scheduled their primary for Jan. 29.
The Democratic and Republican National Committees are doing their best to end this leapfrogging by threatening to not allow delegations to be seated at the national conventions if their primaries are held before Feb. 5. Florida Democrats have 30 days to submit an alternative to their January primary, or their 210 delegates will not be allowed to vote at the party's nominating convention in Denver next summer. The Republican National Committee insists they will penalize states that schedule nominating contests before Feb. 5 by withholding half of their delegates to the conventions next summer.
All of this jockeying for position has created extra tension in an already too long campaign season. There are some that are concerned that the nominations will be decided in February, due to the front loading of caucuses and primaries. The entire process then becomes a panicked race from other states to remain relevant in the discussion, much like what would occur in crowded room if fire alarms are falsely sounded.
The process of Iowa and New Hampshire going first has worked well for many election cycles. The other states need to wait their turn. The process works.