"We do mean business," said Kathy Vick, chairman of the Democratic Compliance Assistance Commission. The commission ruled Friday that South Dakota will not be allowed to move its presidential primary to Feb. 23. Democratic Party rules prohibit states -- except for Iowa, New Hampshire, Maine and Wyoming -- from starting delegate selection before March 8, 1988.
Minnesota, which has voted to move its caucuses to Feb. 23, faces the commission July 16 in Cleveland.
South Dakota must rewrite its plan and get it approved or face the possibility that its delegation will not be seated at the national convention.
South Dakota's Republican-held legislature changed the primary date from June, believing that the early date would draw attention to South Dakota. The national GOP has agreed to the new date.
When Minnesota lawmakers changed their caucuses from March 15 to Feb. 23, they had the same idea.
"If we didn't move the date up, we'd be lucky to have a candidate fly over our state," said state Rep. Wes Skoglund (D), chief sponsor of the legislation.
Vick admitted that Minnesota is a trickier situation for the national party. The legislation changing the date is backed by state Democrats, it is binding and it involves local and state races as well as presidential.
Ruth Esala, state Democratic chair, said the party cannot change the date set by the state legislature.
She said the Minnesota party will go to the Cleveland meeting to answer technical questions about the caucuses, but will not change the date. "They'll never find us in compliance with the rules," Esala said, "but it's a question of how far they'll push us."