PRESS RELEASE from Michael Stratton

Contact: Joan Coplan

Denver, CO (March 7, 2005)--A veteran Democratic Party activist will utilize his position on the Presidential Nomination and Scheduling Commission to advocate for a western regional primary for the 2008 election cycle.  The Commission is charged with reevaluating the Presidential primary and caucus calendar, which many believe gives disproportionate influence to early states.

Former DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe appointed Michael Stratton, from Littleton, Colorado, to the 40-member Commission--which will be co-chaired by former Labor Secretary Alexis Herman and Congressman David Price (D-NC).  Stratton is a 30-year veteran of Democratic politics and Presidential campaigns.  He served in the Carter and Clinton Administrations, managed campaigns for Gary Hart, Roy Romer, Tom Strickland and others.  In the 2004 cycle he was chairman of Ken Salazar's successful U.S. Senate bid.

Stratton says he will lobby fellow commission members to support an early January or February same day, multi-state presidential primary for states, including:  Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming.

"The future of the Democratic Party lies out west, because it's home to some of the fastest growing areas in the country," Stratton said.  "The Democratic Party needs to put western issues and western values out-front.  That means talking about the things that are important to communities in the Rocky Mountain region--energy, water rights, natural resources..."

"As the system works now, presidential candidates can easily ignore wester issues.  They simply fly-over the Rocky Mountains to get to the major media markets on the coasts, or visit the early primary states," Stratton continued.  "We generally don't get to hear their ideas on clean energy technologies, on water management strategy for the federal government, or on protection of natural resources and land conservation."

"A regional primary would change the system so that western issues and values would be front and center," Stratton added.  "It would give voters in Western states more say in the process and a louder voice in our democracy .  It would also give more focus and attention to the growing Hispanic populations--which are very important to Democrats--in western states such as Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada."

"I am going to write letters to Western governors, legislators, and other political influence makers, asking them to take a good look at the this issue and the benefits it will bring to their states.  A Western Primary would also be good for the GOP, since Western states have become so competitive," he said.

The eight states Stratton advocates account for 44 electoral votes, or just under 10 percent of the 538 votes in the Electoral College.  Stratton cited the support of the Western Governors' Association, the Democrats For the West, and the Western States Democratic Chairs' Caucus for the regional primary idea.  (Se attached statements.)

The Commission--which includes three governors, two U.S. senators, two members of Congress, and numerous other elected officials and DNC members--will hold its first meeting on March 12 in Washington, DC.  At the daylong meeting, the schedule for future meetings and hearings will be determined.  The Commission must complete its work and make recommendations to the DNC by 12/31/05.