Reid: Primary calendar 'fundamentally flawed'

June 11, 2008 7:56:36 PM PDT
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a group of Michigan Democrats that the current primary system is "fundamentally flawed" and he supports changing the 2012 primary calendar to reduce the influence of early contests in Iowa and New Hampshire. Reid, D-Nev., made the remarks last Sunday at a private fundraiser in Oakland County, Mich., for Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., according to three people in attendance. Reid credited Levin and other Michigan Democrats for challenging the primary calendar and said he would work with them to seek improvements while maintaining Nevada's role in the process.

Reid told the group of about 50 Democrats in Farmington Hills, Mich., that Iowa and New Hampshire were unrepresentative of the rest of the nation. "The process as it is now is fundamentally flawed," Reid told the donors, according to those in attendance.

"There was a clear recognition that the system as it exists today is flawed and it needs to be fixed and I came away with a commitment to fix it," said David Woodward, an Oakland County commissioner who asked Reid about the primary calendar.

"It was a much stronger response than I was expecting," he said.

Publicly, Reid has said he supports looking into changes to the primary process and said last week that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, would review a potential regional primary system. "The present system is very difficult," Reid told reporters last week.

Reid has previously criticized the influence of New Hampshire and Iowa in determining the party's nominee.

Reid spokesman Jim Manley said Wednesday that the senator's "goal will continue to be to protect Nevada's role in the electoral process."

"While he's very happy with the record number of voters and the amazing amount of fundraising that the Democratic candidates have enjoyed, he does think there are some problems that need to be addressed," Manley said.

Michigan and Florida moved up their contests to protest the party's decision to allow Iowa and New Hampshire to go first, followed by South Carolina and Nevada.

Michigan and Florida had some of their delegates stripped by the Democratic National Committee for moving up their primaries. Under a compromise reached last month, party leaders agreed to seat the delegates with half votes at this summer's convention.