The national political parties will face a moment of truth in coming weeks: Can they impose order on a primary calendar that has states leaping over one another to host the first presidential nominating contest?The chances are that the parties will not be able to rein in the rush to the front of the calendar and with the recent Wyoming GOP announcement to have a January 5 primary, it is possible we may have some 2007 caucuses or primaries. Essentially, the states are daring the parties to act and quite frankly there is little the parties can do. True, party rules would allow the party to punish those states who violate dictates, but the truth is that there will be more than enough delegates to selecte a given candidate.
The Democratic National Committee took its boldest step of the year late last month, threatening to strip Florida of all its delegates to the national convention unless the state pushes back its Jan. 29 primary date.
The Republican National Committee vowed last week to dock half the delegates of any state with a GOP primary before Feb. 5, a group expected to include Florida, Michigan, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
But party organizations in many of those states remain defiant. Some insist it's time for New Hampshire and Iowa to share the spotlight with other states, while others portray their early dates as a protest against a nominating system they see as broken.
As much as it pains me to say, the only way we are going to get any order out of the presidential primary system will be for Congress to step in and mandate some sort of regional primary system.