The Ohio Plan
Chairman Bennett抯 remarks to the National Association of Secretaries of State

I WANT TO THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR ALLOWING ME THIS OPPORTUNITY TO PRESENT AN ALTERNATIVE TO SOME OF THE OTHER PRIMARY PLANS.  I FULLY APPRECIATE THE TIME, THE THOUGHT AND THE GOOD INTENTIONS BEHIND MAKING THE PRIMARY SYSTEM FAIRER AND MORE MEANINGFUL.

        HOWEVER, I WANT TO CALL YOUR ATTENTION TO WHAT WE ARE HUMBLY REFERRING TO AS THE OHIO PLAN, AND ASK YOU TO SERIOUSLY CONSIDER IT ON ITS MERITS. I BELIEVE THIS PLAN ENSURES FAIRNESS TO ALL OUR STATES, AS WELL AS TO BOTH OUR PARTIES, AND STILL ALLOWS A LARGE DEGREE OF FLEXIBILITY.

         WHEN THE RNC RULES COMMITTEE VOTED TO ENDORSE THE DELAWARE PLAN IN INDIANAPOLIS LAST MAY, I CALLED FOR A SUBCOMMITTEE TO BE FORMED TO SEEK RECONCILIATION BETWEEN THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR THE DELAWARE PLAN AND THOSE OF US WHO FOUGHT AGAINST IT.   IN MY OPINION, THE DELAWARE PLAN TOO UNFAIRLY HURTS THE BIG STATES BY LOCKING THEM INTO A SET SEQUENCE LATE IN THE PROCESS.

        THE LARGER STATES COME FAR TOO LATE TO HAVE MUCH IMPACT ON THE PRIMARY PROCESS.  HOWEVER, I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THE SMALLER STATES SHOULD NOT BE SHUT OUT OF THE PROCESS, AND SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE TO STOP THE INCREASING TREND TO CRUNCH THE PRIMARIES AND CAUCUSES INTO THE FIRST FEW MONTHS OF THE ELECTION YEAR.

       THEREFORE, I HAVE  DRAFTED A PLAN TO MEET THE NEEDS OF ALL OF US WHO ARE CONCERNED WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE ELECTION CALENDAR, AND WHICH I BELIEVE COMBINES THE BEST ELEMENTS OF THE VARIOUS PLANS I HAVE SEEN.

          FIRST, I WANT TO POINT OUT THAT ANY PLAN BY NATURE MUST RECOGNIZE THE NEED TO DEAL WITH SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH MAY ARISE BETWEEN NATIONAL CONVENTIONS, AND THE PARTIES TYPICALLY INCLUDE SUCH PROVISIONS.  FURTHER, NO PARTY SHOULD EVER TRY TO UNDERMINE THE NOMINATING PROCESS FOR SHORT-TERM GAIN.  SO LET ME GET RIGHT TO THE HEART OF MY PROPOSAL, AND WE扸E PREPARED SOME SLIDES HERE TO HELP ILLUSTRATE OUR OHIO PLAN.

1. FIRST AND FOREMOST, THE PLAN STRUCTURALLY PROTECTS THE HISTORIC ROLE OF IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE WITH NEW HAMPSHIRE VOTING ON THE FIRST TUESDAY OF FEBRUARY.  WE SHOULD AL BE SENSITIVE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO PRESERVING THE NEW HAMPSHIRE TRADITION.

2. AFTER THE IOWA CAUCUSES AND NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY, A FOUR-POD SYSTEM HAS BEEN CREATED.

3. THE FIRST OF THE PODS, THE 揝MALL STATE?POD, MAY CONDUCT DELEGATE SELECTION PRIMARIES, CAUCUSES OR CONVENTIONS DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY BEGINNING ON THE FIRST SATURDAY AFTER THE NEW HAMPSHIRE PRIMARY. THIS ASSURES THAT CANDIDATES WILL HAVE TO APPEAL TO ALL REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY IF THEY HOPE TO SUCCESSFULLY LAUNCH THEIR CAMPAIGNS.

4. ALSO, THE SMALLER STATES?ROLE IN RETAIL PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS IS ASSURED. (SLIDE FIVE) WE扸E PREPARED A MAP TO ILLUSTRATE THE PODS I AM DESCRIBING.

5. INSTEAD OF HAVING THE REMAINING THREE PODS DIVIDED BY THE SIZE OF THE STATE, WE CREATE ROTATING REGIONAL PODS: EAST/MIDWEST, SOUTH, AND WEST.  THIS WAY, NO STATE IS DENIED THE ABILITY TO IMPACT THE PROCESS IN MARCH, APRIL, AND MAY. THE ORDER OF REGIONS COULD BE SELECTED BY DRAWING LOTS FOR THE 2004 ELECTION CYCLE.

6. WHILE THESE PODS ARE CREATED AS THIRTY-DAY UNITS, THEY ONLY DICTATE THE STARTING POINT FOR A STATE扴 PRIMARY, CAUCUS OR CONVENTION.  ANY STATE, LARGE OR SMALL, MAY OPT-OUT OF THEIR RESPECTIVE POD TO HOLD THEIR PRIMARY, CAUCUS OR CONVENTION WITH A LATER POD.

7. IN FACT, STATES THAT WISH STABILITY IN THE TIMING OF THEIR PRIMARIES, CAUCUSES OR CONVENTIONS, OR STATES THAT DO NOT WANT THE UNCERTAINTY OF  揗ARCH, APRIL OR MAY?CAN SIMPLY SCHEDULE THEIR PRIMARY, CAUCUS OR CONVENTION ANYTIME AFTER MAY 1ST.

8. BY NOT FORCING ANY STATE TO HOLD ITS PRIMARY, CAUCUS OR CONVENTION ANY LATER THAN MAY, THE PLAN PRESERVES, SHOULD THE VARIOUS STATES SO DESIRE, THE OPPORTUNITY TO END THE PROCESS IN A MANNER THAT LEAVES THE PARTY NOMINEES PLENTY OF TIME TO PREPARE FOR THE FALL CAMPAIGN.

IN EFFECT, THIS PLAN DOES NOT PIT THE BIG STATES AGAINST THE SMALL STATES. IT GIVES EVERY STATE THE REASONABLE CHANCE TO HAVE A SAY IN WHO THE NOMINEESHH WILL BE, AND IT REQUIRES CANDIDATES TO HAVE A BROAD APPEAL TO ALL REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY.  MOST IMPORTANTLY, WE HAVE DEVELOPED A PLAN INTENDED TO BUILD VOTER INTEREST AND PARTICIPATION FROM FEBRUARY THROUGH MAY.

AGAIN, THIS IS A STARTING POINT FOR AN ALTERNATIVE PLAN WHICH I BELIEVE IS REASONABLE AND FAIR.  I HOPE IT WILL BE DISCUSSED AND CONSIDERED. I THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR ALLOWING ME TO SPEND A FEW MINUTES WITH YOU, AND I WELCOME ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS YOU MAY HAVE AT THIS TIME.
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