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Iowa, N.H. shouldn't control path to presidency

By Roland S. Martin, CNN Political Contributor
  • 2 states think they know best when it comes to vetting candidates, Roland Martin says
  • Iowa and New Hampshire are up in arms about Florida's efforts to move up its primary
  • Martin says regional caucuses make more sense than letting early states hold sway
  • Martin: Iowa and N.H. shouldn't control path to presidency; other states treated like second class

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for TV One Cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, Washington Watch with Roland Martin.

(CNN) -- Every four years the folks from the great states of Iowa and New Hampshire get on my nerves.

While voters nationwide want their say in who should be the next president of the United States, folks from these two states have a holier-than-thou view of themselves, assuming they know what's best for the country. Only they have the innate ability to discern the imposters from the genuine candidates.

As a result, we all have to sit back and watch as every politician runs to Iowa and New Hampshire, kissing the butt of every no-name county official or precinct chair; calling them on the birthdays of their children; and doing all kinds of silly stuff just to wrangle their precious endorsement.

Please, pass the bucket, I think I'm gonna be sick.

Now Iowa and New Hampshire, joined by the abrasive folks from South Carolina, are in a tizzy because Florida legislators are demanding that their state move up their primary in order to have a sizeable say in who gets the Republican nomination.

Their dastardly behavior has ticked off the Republican National Committee, but especially politicians in Iowa and New Hampshire, who are desperate to hold on to their exalted status.

Now here is what's hilarious: Iowa and New Hampshire are mad that Florida legislators are taking such action, yet those two states actually passed laws telling the rest of the nation that they come before all of us!


In Iowa, they passed a law that says their first-in-the-nation caucus must be held eight days before New Hampshire holds its primary. And in New Hampshire, they too passed a state law saying that primary must be held seven days before any other states'.

So if you live in the other 48 states, you don't mean a darn when it comes to presidential politics because these two arrogant states have taken the position that they mean more than anyone else.

And what is shameful is that the two major political parties, which are not bound by the laws of the two states, participate in this trifling game out of a sense of tradition, and an unwillingness to offend officials from the two states.

When the jockeying went on in 2008, officials from both states made clear that they would be willing to change the law to ensure they go before anyone else. If someone moved a primary or caucus to the first week in January, well, Iowa and New Hampshire pledged they would go in December.

Last time Michigan and Florida ran afoul of Democratic Party rules and had their delegates stripped from the national convention. So when their primaries rolled around, they had no bearing on the delegate count. Despite efforts from the camp of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, trying everything to make them count, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean held firm, saying they broke the rules.

Now the folks from Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina want the RNC to remove the convention from Tampa, Florida if the legislature goes through with changing Florida's primary date.

Good luck with that.

Frankly, this whole process is really stupid. Yes, stupid. The folks from Iowa and New Hampshire can say they come from small states and it's easier to do retail politics there, but that's just a bunch of nonsense. They should just admit that they love the millions and millions of dollars that comes only to their states as hundreds of campaign workers descend, and money is spent on TV, radio and print ads, hotels and other housing

It has always made more sense to me to have regional caucuses and not let one state determine the fate of candidates. What's wrong with having the first round of voting take place in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ohio? The second-round region can consist of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania. The third round can be Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. In the fourth round, we can have South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Kentucky and Tennessee. And then group the rest of the states similarly.

Round one can be the third week in January; round two can be third week in February; round three can be the third week in March; and so on.

This way, far more voters can have a say in who should be president; the candidates won't have to tailor a message to fit the likes and dislikes of just one or two states; and all of the attention -- and fundraising dollars -- won't be lavished on who finished first and second in Iowa and New Hampshire.

It is time for the RNC and DNC to tell Iowa and New Hampshire that they don't control the path to the presidency. And I call on every other state to pass laws demanding when their primaries should be held. Let's stop treating the rest of the nation like second-class citizens. This is the only way to force the hands of the parties and stop with the catering and bending over to satisfy the whims of officials in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland Martin.