Democratic Party Chairman Jason Willett called from New Orleans with an update on his bid for Arkansas to be selected by the Democratic National Committee for an early presidential primary slot.
Several other states are competing for a limited number of early dates. The Arkansas presentation to the DNC's rules and bylaws committee started around 1:15 p.m., led by U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, who gave an overview of the state's pitch.
She was followed by Willett, who stressed the strength of the Democratic Party in Arkansas, as evidenced by holding five of six federal offices, controlling 73 of 75 counties and being the majority in both houses of the state legislature. He also emphasized that legislators already have agreed to have the state pay for an early primary.
Martha Dixon, the DNC national committeewoman from Arkadelphia, wrapped things up by discussing the state's diversity in economic, geographic and population terms. Because of the wide differences among the various areas of Arkansas, she said a candidate for president would be exposed to a broad cross-section of voters.
Willett said the rules and bylaws committee will make its recommendations to DNC Chairman Howard Dean within 30-60 days, and Dean will present them at the fall meeting of DNC for a final vote.