CHICAGO – Key Democrats on Friday agreed to punish Democratic presidential candidates who campaign in states that violate the party's 2008 primary-caucus schedule.
The move by the national party's rules and bylaws committee seeks to deter candidates from campaigning in renegade states by denying them delegates they may win in that state's nominating contest.
The tough stance is part of a proposed overhaul of party rules to change the decades-long tradition of keeping Iowa and New Hampshire at the starting gate of presidential nomination voting. The plan would insert Nevada between Iowa and New Hampshire and give South Carolina greater influence by scheduling its primary a week after New Hampshire's.
On Saturday, the full Democratic National Committee will vote on the rules changes. The new schedule is designed to bring more Hispanic and African-American voters into the early stages of the nominating process.
Top Democrats, however, fear that a number of states, particularly New Hampshire, will ignore the new voting lineup and choose to hold their nominating contests even earlier. Hoping to put teeth into the new schedule, rules committee members moved to discipline candidates who dare to campaign in states that jump ahead of the line.
"If you campaign in a state that is outside the rules, then you're not entitled to delegates from that state," said Carole Khare Fowler, a rules committee member from South Carolina who offered the change.