Yesterday five Democratic presidential candidates announced that they would not be participating in Michigan’s January 15, 2008 primary. Most of the Democratic field decided to withdraw because Michigan is not one of the states approved by the Democratic National Committee to hold a primary before February 5, 2008. The Democrats who withdrew from the primary are Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM), Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). However, the Clinton and Dodd campaigns said that they see no reason to withdraw from the primary.

“This is an extension of the pledge we made, based on the rules that the DNC laid out,” said Obama spokesman Bill Burton. “We still hope that Michigan Democrats can adopt a process that meets DNC rules and, if so, look forward to fighting for the votes of men and women across the state.”

The Kucinich campaign released a statement that said, “We signed a public pledge recently, promising to stand with New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina, and the DNC-approved ‘early window’, and the action we are taking today protects New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status, and Nevada’s early caucus. We support the grassroots nature of the New Hampshire, small-state primary, and we support the diversity efforts that Chairman Dean and the DNC instituted last year, when they added Nevada and South Carolina to the window in January 2008.  We are obviously committed to New Hampshire’s historic role.”

A problem developed for the Kucinich camp today, when they filed the wrong paperwork yesterday to take their name off the ballot. They filed the paperwork twice, and problem the second time was that Kucinich’s signature was not notarized. This means that unless Kucinich wants to take the matter to court, his name will still appear on the ballot in January.

The Biden campaign took this opportunity to slam Clinton and Dodd for staying on the ballot. “Every campaign made a pledge to the four early states to support the calendar created by the DNC that placed a premium on retail politics and provided a level playing field for candidates, regardless of money or celebrity. Now that these contests are fast approaching and with the final dates of the Michigan and New Hampshire primaries still in doubt, the Dodd and Clinton campaigns have chosen to hedge their bets, thereby throwing this process into further disarray. In doing so, they have abandoned Democrats in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina,” Biden Campaign Manager Luis Navarro said.

There are two reasons why the campaigns who withdrew really did so. The first is because grumbling has been growing as the campaigns who are struggling have to deal with a constantly moving primary schedule. The frontloaded system helps the frontrunner most, so it is no surprise that Clinton would stay in, and support Michigan. Clinton is also looking not to alienate voters in a state that she will need to carry next November. Secondly, the candidates are withdrawing from a state that Clinton would have won anyway. By withdrawing, they can spend more of their precious resources in Iowa, and their attempts to defeat Clinton there.

The DNC has been powerless in this whole situation, so it isn’t surprising that the candidates themselves had to take action to send a message to the states that this game of primary leapfrog has to stop. Michigan wanted influence, but now they have none. Hopefully, they will come to their senses and move their primary back to the approved time period.

Kucinich statement

Related story

Biden statement 

Jason Easley is the politics editor at His column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Jason is also the host of TPU Radio, which can be heard at every Sunday morning at 11 AM ET.

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