Sununu, Weicker and Wilder Debate Presidential Election Reform as University of Virginia's Center for Politics Hosts 'The Presidency Reconsidered'

April 15, 2008 — On Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m., the University of Virginia's Center for Politics will host a discussion on presidential selection and the U.S. Constitution at U.Va.'s Newcomb Hall Ballroom. "The Presidency Reconsidered" asks "should we change how we nominate and elect our chief executives?"

Moderated by University Professor Larry J. Sabato, director of U.Va.'s Center for Politics, this panel discussion will include former New Hampshire governor and White House chief of staff John H. Sununu, former Connecticut governor and U.S. Senator Lowell P. Weicker Jr. and former Virginia governor and current Richmond mayor L. Douglas Wilder.

"The Presidency Reconsidered" is free and open to the public, with advance registration. Members of the press are invited to attend and should contact Matt Smyth (434-243-8466, to reserve space.

Following the event, shortly after 8 p.m., everyone in attendance is invited to remain for a live broadcast of a Democratic presidential candidate debate, projected on a large screen in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

Each of the 21st century's presidential elections has seen constitutional issues come to the forefront of public consciousness. Some suggest that the process of being nominated by the parties is in need of review. Should we attempt to alter this process by establishing regional primaries or some other system, or are we better served leaving the process to the discretion of each individual state? What is the role of the superdelegates, and does this process work as it was intended? Should anything be done to prioritize the outcome of the popular vote in the nomination process and/or the general election? Are there changes that might help build greater confidence in our system of elections for more Americans? Should we continue to disallow non-native born citizens from running for president? These topics and more will be debated at "The Presidency Reconsidered."

 Sununu served two years as President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff, after serving three consecutive terms as governor of New Hampshire. As governor, Sununu chaired the Coalition of Northeastern Governors, the Republican Governors Association and the National Governors Association. For much of the 1990s, Sununu co-hosted CNN's "Crossfire" political news and analysis program. He is currently president of JHS Associates Ltd. and is a partner in Trinity International Partners, a private financial firm.

Weicker served one term in the U.S. House and then three consecutive terms in the U.S. Senate representing Connecticut, during which time he served on the Senate Watergate Committee. In 1990, Weicker was elected governor of Connecticut as an independent, defeating opponents from both major parties. He is currently the president of the board of directors of Trust for America's Health and a member of the board of directors for World Wrestling Entertainment.

Wilder is the first African American to be elected governor of a U.S. state. Elected in 1989 as a Democrat, Wilder previously served a term as lieutenant governor and five terms in the state senate. He was briefly a candidate for president in 1992, but withdrew in order to focus on the governorship. Wilder was appointed chairman of Gov. Mark Warner's Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness in 2002 and also that year co-chaired the Wilder-Bliley Charter Commission that advocated the at-large election of mayor for the city of Richmond. Wilder was elected mayor in 2004.

Last fall, the Center for Politics hosted a discussion about the Constitution at a daylong gathering called the National Constitutional Convention. "The Presidency Reconsidered" will continue this timely discussion. More information and online registration can be found at the Center for Politics Web site, .

The Center for Politics ( is a non-partisan, interdisciplinary unit of the University of Virginia whose mission is to promote the value of politics and seeks to improve civics education and increase civic participation through comprehensive research, pragmatic analysis and innovative educational programs. Founded in 1998, the center is committed to the proposition that government works better when politics works better, and its corollary that politics works better when citizens are informed and active participants.