In My Opinion      

By Caroline Porter


Presidential Primaries rock!


Television pundits and Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean, are apparently concerned about the close primary race between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to become the Democratic Party nominee for president. I agree with Governor Mike Huckabee, Republican presidential candidate, that competition is good and voters want a choice.

I would add that it is obviously increasing the number of primary election voters and thus energizing the parties, particularly the Democrats. For once, it was gratifying to vote in a presidential primary where my vote actually made a difference.

The concern of some Democratic Party leaders is that if there is not a clear winner by the convention, there will only be 60 days of campaign time for the nominee. The Democratic National Convention is in early September, unusually late. Assuming Senator John McCain will be the Republican Party nominee, we could say his campaign for the general election could be seriously hampered by not knowing who his opponent will be. That could actually be plus for the Democrats. Both Senators Clinton and Obama can continue to take pot-shots at McCain while his staff is trying to gather dirt and write speeches attacking two very different opponents at the same time.

Many of us older folks remember the political party conventions where decisions were made for president and vice-president. I can remember my parents hovering around the radio in the 1940s and 50s, listening intently to the series of votes of the whole convention of 48 states, sometimes lasting for days. The drama was wonderful. The secretary of the convention would yell, “Alabama!” and a delegate would drawl, “Alabama casts 95 votes for that great statesman from the South, Strom Thurman, (or whomever).”  The roll call would be off and running and no one knew the outcome. It certainly was a lot more fun. Can you imagine the wheeling and dealing on the convention floor during those votes?

The purpose of establishing primary elections was to take the power of nominations away from the political parties and give that power to the people. In some measure, counteracting the voters are the appointments of “super delegates” to the Democratic Party convention - the party big-wigs and elected officials who could be the deciding voters in this primary election.

Knowing this possibility, both Clinton and Obama supporters are relentlessly contacting the uncommitted super delegates to the convention. Well, it all makes the whole process more interesting and as long as it is generating twice as many primary election voters, as Martha Stewart would say, it is a good thing.


Caroline Porter is a freelance writer from Galesburg who can be reached at