• WisPolitics

Thursday, June 02, 2016

 5:20 PM 

Dem Party denies WisPolitics.com convention table for straw poll over party rule

In a departure from past practice, the state Dem Party says it won't let WisPolitics.com buy a table at this weekend's convention to conduct a straw poll, because the independent news service refused to abide by a new national party rule banning such questions about the presidential race.

The state party cited delegate selection rules for 2016, saying they prevent such straw polls from taking place at official events. The rule reads, "For the purpose of fairly reflecting the division of preferences, the non-binding advisory presidential preference portion of primaries shall not be considered a step in the delegate selection process and is considered detrimental." The party defines "non-binding advisory presidential preference event" to include beauty contest primaries and straw polls.

The rule goes on to say state parties must "educate the public that a non-binding presidential preference event is meaningless" and they, along with presidential candidates, "should take all steps possible not to participate."

WisDems spokesman Brandon Weathersby said the party wants the convention to be open and welcome to members of the media.

"We do however ask all attendees, media including, to respect the rules of the party and the convention, including the exclusion of Presidential straw polls," he wrote in an email.

WisPolitics.com has regularly since its launch in 2000 conducted straw polls at state party conventions. Parties have not overseen or endorsed the straw polls or had veto power over what questions were asked.

A WisPolitics.com straw poll at last year's state Dem convention in Milwaukee showed Bernie Sanders finishing a strong second to Hillary Clinton, a result national media took as an early sign the Vermont senator -- then often described as a long-shot for the White House -- could appeal to the party's progressive base.

The news service also conducted a straw poll at last month's GOP state convention, where party activists were asked who they wanted to see as Donald Trump's running mate. The poll also included a question about whether Republican activists planned to vote for Trump, Clinton, a third-party candidate or sit out the presidential race this fall. Nearly 20 percent of those participating weren't ready to support Trump.

State GOP spokesman Pat Garrett slammed Dems for the party's decision.

"Wisconsin Democrats have completely thrown transparency out the window this year, and now they are paying the price after Party bosses in Washington DC put their finger on the scale to unfairly prop up Hillary Clinton's campaign," Garrett wrote in an email.

In 2006, the state GOP, along with attorney general candidates Paul Bucher and J.B. Van Hollen, asked WisPolitics.com to exclude from its convention straw poll any question about the AG's race. They cited an agreement the candidates reached to discourage straw polls and a convention endorsement vote. WisPolitics.com declined the request.

WisPolitics.com did not provide this year's planned questions to the Dem Party during discussions over a straw poll this weekend.

 -- By JR Ross


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