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Stateside with Rosalea: And they're off...!

Stateside with Rosalea

And they're off...!

By Rosalea Barker

The gates have opened and the horse race has begun. On Monday, 29 December, absentee voting began in the first presidential primary election in the nation. For some unfathomable reason Washington DC decided it had to get in ahead of the traditional Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, and will be holding a non-binding presidential primary election on Tuesday January 13, for which said absentee voting has just opened.

The city council pretty much had to bludgeon Democratic candidates to take part in it, and the Republicans weren't having a bar of it, so it's a pretty weird line-up. The only names from the Big Nine are Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean, Dennis Kucinich, and Al Sharpton. Depending on how much support the six other "minor" candidates on the Democratic ballot in DC get, this early beauty contest (as the local Republican Party likes to call it) might be a useful indicator to those four major candidates of their popularity relative to each other and to their perceived constituencies.

The DC Statehood Green Party is also holding its primary on that day - with the choice between Shelia Bilyeu of Virginia and Dave Cobb of California. Formerly of Texas, where he spearheaded a successful drive to get Nader onto the presidential election ballot there in 2000, Cobb should easily walk away with the Green votes in DC.

I chuckle to think how I agreed to write about the 2000 election for Scoop and plunged in boots and all, bursting with all the knowledge and wisdom a high school level civics course and a library book on the electoral college (with out-of-date footnotes) afforded me. Chuckle? No, that's not the word. I either laugh uproariously or weep to think of all the complicated twists and turns that lie between now and 2 November 2004. (Well, we hope that's the date, right?)

But I'll do my best, possums, to explick the inexplicable, or at least keep you somewhat entertained. Did you know, for instance, that the District of Columbia has only been treated as a state for the purposes of electing a president since 1963? If the District were a state, it would have one US Representative and two US Senators. Washington DC is therefore entitled to three electors in the electoral college.

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