Primary elections for a sitting president are supposed to be nothing more than an exercise of going through the motions toward a foregone conclusion. Sure there will be challengers, there always are, but other candidates vying for the party’s nomination are hardly any bother. There is virtually no chance that they will even come close to emerging from single digit percentages when votes are tallied—unless something is very wrong.
Well, something is very wrong in the Democratic presidential primary election.
Large numbers of Democrat voters turned out yesterday in Arkansas and Kentucky to show that they prefer anybody—even nobody—over Barack Obama.
Regular readers of The Hayride are already familiar with John Wolfe Jr., the Tennessee lawyer who scored enough votes in the March 24 Louisiana primary election to merit three delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. in September.
There were 17,804 Democrats in Louisiana who voted for Wolfe, giving him over 15 percent of ballots in three of Louisiana’s seven congressional districts.
Impressive for a candidate who isn’t exactly a house-hold name, but Wolfe did even better—much better—in Arkansas yesterday where he walked away with 41 percent of ballots cast in Tuesday’s primary election.
Stop and think about that for a moment—four in 10 Democrat voters in Arkansas said Obama is not their guy.
And in Kentucky, where Wolfe wasn’t on the ballot, about as many Democrat voters picked no guy—or rather “uncommitted”—over the incumbent president of their party. Uncommitted got 42 percent of the vote.
Understandably, it’s going to be hard to award a candidate that doesn’t exist any delegates. The Kentucky Democratic Party has an easy out, but it doesn’t have the opportunity to take stand on an issue close to Democratic hearts—- voter disenfranchisement.
In Arkansas and Louisiana there is a flesh-and-blood candidate who won nearly as large a percent of the vote as Obama’s non-existent Kentucky contender did and he should get his due.
Up in Arkansas, like here in Louisiana, the Democratic Party is refusing to award Wolfe delegates he earned, saying he broke party rules by not filling out some paperwork. Wolfe has countered by pointing out that the $2,500 he spent to get on ballots was eagerly accepted and none of this came up until polls showed him advancing on Obama.
The Democratic Party has used technicalities before to make sure delegates don’t slip away from the president, as in the case of Randall Terry, an anti-abortion activist who managed to wrest a delegate from Obama in the Oklahoma primary. The delegate wasn’t awarded, of course.
Wolfe is threatening a lawsuit in Louisiana to get his delegates and has told me that it’s almost certain that the Obama camp didn’t dot all the ” i’s” and cross all the “t’s” to get on the ballot.
The re-election bid has been pretty sloppy and it’s likely that a few mistakes could be unearthed that would show the president is guilty of missing a filing deadline or two—something the Louisiana Democratic Party is accusing Wolfe of doing—if party officials were inclined to dig for them.
They are not so inclined, but it’s really not necessary for Wolfe to have to engage in a tit-for-tat of technicalities. A lawsuit could be avoided too, if a party that purports to stand for the rights of disenfranchised voters would do the right thing and stand on principle.
We have heard U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder equate state’s voter photo ID laws to Jim Crow-styled voter disenfranchisement of the Old South, striking down such laws in South Carolina and threatening to do the same in Texas.
Documentaries have been made by Democrats revealing how Republicans have caused voting machines to malfunction and rain to fall on election days—all in an effort to disenfranchise people likely to vote a Democratic ticket:
The above video if from a movie called “Uncounted,” but a more apt name would be “Uninterested,” because it shows that a lot of people didn’t vote because the didn’t feel like getting out in the rain or to be bothered with showing a photo ID.
Votes would have really been uncounted if people who actually voted were to have had their ballots cast into waste baskets, like the votes of nearly 18,000 Democrats in Louisiana and many more in Arkansas.
Voter disenfranchisement laws have been a central theme of Democrat politics in recent years, so let party rules be damned and do the right thing, Democrats.
All it would take is for Louisiana Democratic Party Chair Karen Carter Peterson to give the go-ahead and for party bosses in Arkansas to do likewise.
It might go against every fiber of their being and would cause the president a little embarrassment—like a non-candidate coming within striking of the nomination distance in Kentucky and a convict doing the same in West Virginia.
Democrats, if you are gonna continue to lecture Republicans on voter rights, just give Wolfe his delegates. In other words…