To the Editor:
In a few short weeks, voters will go to the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire to choose a Democratic candidate. But as the Athens County Democratic chair and someone who has spent decades working in state and national politics, I would argue that it’s the primary process itself that should be on the ballot.
As everyone who follows politics knows, the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire have come to dominate the campaign, and for months before any vote takes place you can find candidates there shaking hands, sharing a funnel cake, or hosting state fair rallies with people on the ground.
When I campaigned in Iowa years ago for Dick Gephart, I had a voter tell me she would consider caucusing for Dick only if he would come visit her home as Sen. Kerry and Sen. Edwards had done. We don’t ask so much in Ohio. But we actually have a larger role and responsibility in choosing the president.
It’s true that since 1972 most Democrats who have won the Iowa Caucus have gone on to become the Democratic nominee. But the trouble is, those same odds don’t translate to winning the general election.
So most Democrats are forced to spend all their time and money in Iowa and New Hampshire, which only hold a handful of delegates, while Donald Trump is barnstorming the battleground states that really matter in the general election. It was no surprise to us that Donald Trump launched his re-election campaign right here in Ohio for that very reason.
That’s why I respect what Mike Bloomberg is doing to not only spend time himself in battleground states, but hire thousands of staff on the ground in states like Ohio with the commitment that they’ll stay in place to defeat Donald Trump, no matter who wins the Democratic primary. That’s the type of infrastructure we need to win.
Trump understands what the DNC seemingly doesn’t. Ohio and other battleground states reflect the cultural and economic diversity of America, and that’s why so often we’re the state that chooses the president – not Iowa and not New Hampshire. That’s another reason it’s so important for Democratic candidates to have a presence in states like Ohio, right now.
There’s nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board as populations change and demographics shift. It would be a shame for us to hold on tight to a primary process that’s no longer representative of our country, and which doesn’t help us win.
John Haseley, chair
Athens County Democratic Party