A bill to make Alabama a key player in selecting candidates for president in 2008 is still alive going into the final day of the Alabama Legislature's session.
The proposed legislation would move Alabama's presidential primary from June to the first Saturday after the New Hampshire primary. That would make Alabama the third state in the country - and the first in the South - to take part in the process of choosing Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.
The DNC has a commission examining the presidential nominating process, and I hope they recommend trying to rearrange the primary schedule so the early states aren't almost all heavily Republican, competetive but either unlike any other competetive states (NH) or with much smaller smaller African-American populations than the country as a whole (NH, IA, NM, NV and WI). In 2004 John Kerry was nominated on the strength of his performance in the early primaries, where he won 7 of the first 9. But of those nine states, he won only 2 in November (NH and DE, with a total of 7 EV), while Bush won the other seven (IA, AZ, MO, NM, ND, OK and SC, for a total of 51 EV).
Another problem that would only be exacerbated by Alabama being an early state is that none of the early states are strongly Democratic. Strongly Republican states would have exerted influence in picking the Republican candidate, presumably ensuring that to be successful the Republican would have to appeal to large numbers of strongly partisan voters. But the Democrats who gave Kerry his early momentum were very unlike the majority of Democrats nationwide; the were disproportionately white, disproportionately rural, and disproportionately centered in places where their party seldom delievers their state's electoral vote. (The only early state won by both Gore and Kerry was DE, with its whopping 3 electoral votes.)
There are plenty of problems with IA and NH casting the first votes, but the strength of tradition may mean that even discussing changes are off the table. But the DNC commission must look at the order of states that come after IA and NH, and ensure that the Democratic nominee isn't chosen almost exclusively by a small number of rural and southern Democrats whose states almost certainly won't support any Democrat in the November election.