I'm told that tomorrow morning at 11:45am, the executive board has been summoned to conference call with Chairman Tom Collins of the Nevada State Democratic Party. It's going to be interesting to see where the discussion is at this point; clearly the Nevada folks are under a lot of pressure. Honestly, though, this is very puzzling. Here's Markos with an update from the Presidential campaign perspective. Blogpac has held off on going there, because we wanted to start with a dialogue with Democrats in Nevada.
I've asked several campaigns whether they plan on attending the Fox News debate in Nevada. I've started collecting responses, and expect to post them tomorrow. I can say off the bat that the question clearly has campaigns conflicted. It's not a position they want to be in, and I'm sure they're cursing whoever it was that negotiated the deal with Fox News. (That Democratic Party decision maker, by the way, is still secret. Everyone claims they don't know who signed the deal.)
The campaigns could make things easier for themselves by just stating, en masse, that they won't do a Fox News debate, but that they'll be happy to debate in Nevada with another media partner.
The issue here isn't to screw over Nevada or its Dems (it's a state where we should be far more competitive, and will be in the next few cycles), and to deprive them of a close look at the field.
The issue is to deprive the right wing's premier propaganda outlet an easy opportunity to take cheap shots at our guys.
The smart campaigns will look for an alternate venue from which to communicate to Nevada's Democratic primary voters.
This whole episode is puzzling. No one is taking responsibility for this decision. I don't believe that Tom Collins, the outgoing Chair of the Party in Nevada, did this on his own. There's some backbone here, a willingness to reject our arguments and those from Democratic grassroots activists in Nevada. The heads of the Professional Firefighters, the Nevada AFL-CIO, and the Culinary workers chimed in on behalf of Fox News. Various state parties, working to build an alliance of Western states, backed the decision.
Mike Zahara, a Democrat on the executive board, has come out and represented the tremendous dissatisfaction on the ground among Nevada Democrats. Other Nevada unions - important ones - have stayed silent, and it's probably the case that it is only the union leadership that weighed in on the decision.
Throughout all of this, Reid has stayed silent. There is simply no way that he isn't aware of what's going on. While it is likely that he had something to do with this debate in the first place (a Presidential forum in his home state), it's undeniable that he has allowed this to go on as long as it has. He's not even saying that this is a state party matter, just that he personally did not negotiate the deal. I can't believe that the union muscle, the secrecy, and the closed ranks are something that Reid would allow to go on unless he has some major part in this debacle. Perhaps there are furious behind-the-scenes discussions going on, and he's annoyed to be dragged into this. Maybe Fox News has something on him, though I would find that unlikely as well. Maybe he's hoping for better coverage for his reelection in 2010, or maybe he's just a conservative Democrat who doesn't get the pernicious role of Fox News. Maybe there's money involved. Honestly, I don't know. It could be a mistake that the Nevada Democrats are in the midst of fixing in a somewhat clumsy and opaque manner.
Tomorrow we'll learn more.Update
(Chris): Edwards to skip Fox News debate
. Fantastic! This is a very good start.