WASHINGTON – Democrats Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd and Joe Biden on Friday pledged not to campaign in states that hold early nominating contests in violation of party rules, drawing a sharp rebuke from Florida officials who are challenging the system.
The three quickly signed onto a pledge circulated by Democratic leaders of the four states that have the party’s blessing to hold early contests – Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The pledge says they will avoid competing in any other states that vote before Feb. 5, as Florida is planning to do.
Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman said in a statement: “I don’t see how anybody who believes he or she should be president of the United States of America could get tricked into signing a pact to ignore tens of millions of diverse Americans by a selfish, four-state alliance of party insiders.”
Aides to Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton said they were reviewing the pledge. Clinton’s aides have previously said she is committed to competing wherever there is a primary or a caucus. John Edwards’ campaign would not say whether he will sign it.
Party rules for this cycle had Iowa’s caucuses on Jan. 14, with tests in Nevada Jan. 19, New Hampshire Jan. 22 and South Carolina Jan. 29.
Florida has scheduled its primary for Jan. 29, and will not have any delegates seated at next year’s Democratic National Convention unless they change their plan in the next four weeks, by order of the party. Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was poised to sign legislation that would move its contest to Jan. 15 despite the threat of similar sanctions.