Submitted by

West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee

April 12, 2006


The West Virginia Democratic Party would like to be considered for one of the early caucuses for the 2008 Presidential election cycle.  We are excited about the possibility of being a state that could make the difference in the selection of the Democratic nominee.  West Virginia Democrats are tired of being a red state in the presidential race, but a blue state for our state races.  We believe a Democrat that cannot win West Virginia cannot win the White House.  Swing states like West Virginia need to have a greater say in the Party’s nomination if we want to win back the White House.

West Virginia has never held a presidential caucus or any other statewide caucus, but with our new field organizers and the current energy within the State Party, we feel very confident that we can be very successful in our first attempt at a statewide presidential caucus.

Governor Joe Manchin has embraced the concept and would like West Virginia to take this big step toward selecting the Democratic nominee.  He has indicated that he will do what ever it takes to make this happen.

If accepted by the DNC, West Virginia would have to change its Party’s Rules at our June Executive Committee meeting.  We would also have to pass legislation changing our State Code concerning the presidential primary and the selection of the delegates to the National Convention.  The Party and the Governor feel very confident that we could make these necessary changes, given our majority control of both houses of the State Legislature.

There are a number of reasons why we believe West Virginia should be selected for an early presidential caucus.

    1. West Virginia is a BLUE state when it comes to state and local offices.
    2. West Virginia is considered a swing state by national politicians.
    3. The Democratic nominee must be accepted by swing states.
    4. A Democrat has never won the White House without West Virginia’s support.
    5. The state is small enough to take on such a big challenge.
    6. West Virginia has a large union presence.
    7. West Virginia is a Bible belt state.
    8. West Virginia has the highest percentage of NASCAR fans in the country.
    9. West Virginia’s population is representative of a number of other small states.
    10. The cost to conduct such a caucus would be minimal.
    11. Spill over of candidates campaigning in West Virginia would be felt in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky helping the Democratic nominee in the general election.  Our media markets reach deep into our neighboring states.

The costs involved in conducting a presidential caucus will vary greatly depending on the final version of the caucus model.  We believe that in the worst case, it could cost $150000.  Throughout the years, West Virginia has used the public schools as polling locations.  If we were to use the 469 elementary schools in the state and had to pay for use of the schools, a caucus leader, and advertising, we would come up with the $150000 figure. However, that cost could be dramatically reduced by getting volunteers to run the sites and if the costs for the schools were absorbed by the state.  There is also the possibility of having the caucuses in all 1971 precincts and let each county and precinct come up with the funding.

One way of funding the caucuses could be corporate funding.  West Virginia currently does not allow any “soft money”.  However, it maybe possible to get the code changed to allow soft money for the purpose of conducting the presidential causes only.

During these presidential preference caucuses each location will select delegates to the congressional district convention based on the outcome of the caucus.  Each candidate will receive delegates based on the percent of votes received in the caucus.  During the congressional convention, delegates for the national convention will be selected based on the individual candidate votes during the initial caucuses.  There will be 6 men and 6 women selected from each of the three congressional districts.  The remaining delegates to the national convention will be selected at the state convention.

We look forward to discussing the possibility that West Virginia could conduct an early presidential caucus with the DNC in the near future.