Today, I read my blogging colleague Jason Tolbert’s post about the Democratic Party of Arkansas’ decision to not award delegates to gadfly Presidential candidate John Wolfe. I believe Tolbert is incorrect in his characterization of the situation.
It seems the Democratic Party of Arkansas is being criticized for following and enforcing the rules.
As a former Executive Director of the DPA, I’m very familiar with how Presidential delegates are awarded after having overseen the 2004 Arkansas delegate selection process. Running for the nomination of President of the United States for a major political party is serious business and both parties have a set of rules that all candidates must follow to receive delegates. Arkansas’ rules have been in place, and publicly available for review, for many election cycles.
Wolfe’s failure to comply with the rules is more than just a “technicality” or “some sort of paperwork” as Tolbert attempts to downplay it. Wolfe completely ignored the process Presidential candidates must follow to receive national convention delegates and failed to meet basic deadlines.
In Arkansas, Presidential candidates must do three things to be awarded delegates:
1) Submit in writing the name of the authorized representative for their campaign.
2) Submit a statement of full participation to demonstrate how they will meet all the affirmative action requirements.
3) Meet all the requirements to file for public office under state law and the DPA filing procedure.
Wolfe never submitted the first two required doc
uments. No paperwork, no delegates. Moreover, the delegate rules are available on the DPA’s website, but I guess John Wolfe didn’t take the time to read it. The deadlines for the required paperwork were February 20, 2012 & December 2, 2011.
Wolfe is attempting to portray himself as a victim, when in reality it’s because of his incompetence that he won’t receive any Arkansas delegates, if he meets the vote threshold. Who cares if Wolfe drove himself all night from Chattanooga to file to run in Arkansas? Maybe if Wolfe had just looked at the rules online before hopping in the car, he could’ve saved himself a trip. Cry me a river.
The delegate selection process to the national convention is much larger than this gadfly candidate.
Imagine if back in 2008 if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton failed to meet the deadlines and didn’t submit the required paperwork, would it have been fair to just throw the rules out the window? Would the campaign that was in compliance be totally fine with giving their opponent another chance to comply and submit the paperwork? Of course not.
You may recall earlier this year that Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum wasn’t awarded delegates in a few primary states because his campaign failed to fill out the necessary paperwork. I don’t recall anyone in Arkansas howling about that fact.
In the end, the DPA is right to deny national convention delegates to any Presidential candidate who doesn’t follow the rules.
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Michael Cook is the moderator for his opinion blog, Cook's Outlook. He can be reached by e-mail at Michael@CooksOutlook.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mcookAR or on Facebook: facebook.com/CooksOutlook.