‘Anything can happen’: Democrats make their case for 2024 first primary

The pitches clarified the dynamics at play as the rules committee prepares a final recommendation for all of the first states in August, ahead of a full DNC vote in September. Iowa and New Hampshire were on defense, while Nevada is looking to move into the top spot on the schedule. Michigan and Minnesota are going head-to-head for the Midwest spot. Democrats in Georgia and Texas argued that early investments from presidential campaigns would increase their ability to remain — or become — battleground states.

But there are still many outstanding questions for the committee, including not only the ultimate order, but also whether the DNC members will add a fifth state to the window of first states.

“I don’t know how they’re meeting the diversity requirements they’ve set without increasing the number of states to five,” said Washington state Democratic Party chair Tina Podlodowski, who presented her state as the best representative of Asian America. and Pacific Islanders and working communities. “I think it’s all up in the air. Everything can happen. »

A series of high-ranking officials showed up in Washington to promote their home countries. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy promised DNC members that his state “won’t let you down.” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Delaware Gov. John Carney have each pushed for Biden’s home state to join the first window, with Carney adding that “just to show how important it is , I left a meeting with the President in the Roosevelt Room in order to be here on time. Illinois brought Garrett’s popcorn — and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

The Minnesota delegation walked in to Prince’s music, then handed out pamphlets featuring Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s (D-Minn.) hot dish recipe. New Hampshire handed out goody bags including a mug from the famed Red Arrow restaurant and chocolate in the shape of the state, while Michigan’s paperwork included a personal note from Senator Debbie Stabenow and Rep. Debbie Dingell and Michigan-shaped erasers.

DNC members had a regular pattern of questions they posed to state party leaders, focusing on who within each state administered the elections and the extent to which it was possible to change the states’ primary dates.

It’s a key issue for Michigan and Minnesota, where Democrats would need at least some cooperation from Republicans to change their primary date. Stabenow, Dingell and Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist each assured the committee that “the conversations that need to take place have begun,” as Gilchrist put it.

“We feel good about the conversations we’re having, we’re just not ready to take them out,” Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes told the DNC rules committee.

Two former Republican Party chairmen have publicly said they support Democrats’ efforts to ride Michigan, though current Michigan GOP Chairman Ron Weiser has yet to weigh in one way or another. another, shifting its focus to the mid-terms. But for Michigan to change its date, they will have to push a bill through the Republican-controlled legislature.

DNC member Frank Leone told the delegation that “the more assurances you can give us, the better”.

Minnesota, meanwhile, doesn’t need legislative action to change the date, just an agreement between the two main party presidents. Minnesota Republican Party Chairman David Hann said he was open to conversations with Democrats. “We just had a general discussion where they told us that they wanted to continue this within their party, and so we are kind of waiting until they get out of it,” said he told Minnesota Public Radio. .

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who ran for president in 2012, tweeted his support for the state moving into the first window.

“We don’t need a changed law, we need a conversation, which is in [the GOP’s] interest,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in an interview after Minnesota’s presentation.

But while Michigan and Minnesota have both made “compelling” arguments to the DNC Rules Committee, one member, who was granted anonymity to discuss private conversations, said other members of the group may be reluctant to vote for either state without “absolute certainty”. that they will be able to move their main dates.

Iowa also launched its latest plea to retain its status as first in the nation, laying out a plan to make significant changes to its caucuses, turning the exercise into an all-mail process, with voters mailing in their presidential preference cards instead. than show up in person. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn promised, “No more caucus math,” making the group laugh.

Iowa Democrats also warned that scrapping their early statehood would give Republicans an even bigger advantage in the state, once a hotly contested battleground that has slipped off the national map in recent years. Iowa State Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst warned that “every time a Republican candidate comes to Iowa and visits the district of one of my members or one of my candidates , he is building an organization on the other side”.

The Republican National Committee voted earlier this year to affirm the current makeup of the first four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. If a state attempts to jump the line, the RNC would sanction those states by removing certain delegates. The DNC’s rules committee has yet to have a broad public debate about what it would take to unbundle the two parties’ presidential calendars.

Another impending showdown comes out of the race to be first in the lineup. Nevada made an aggressive push to not only stay in the first window, but also to take the top spot. “The state that comes first matters. We all know that is the case,” said Rebecca Lambe, Democratic strategist and longtime adviser to the late Senator Harry Reid.

“It fundamentally shapes the start of the primary and how candidates spend their time and resources in the off-year,” Lambe continued, “and that’s why we think it’s so important that the first state looks like America. »

Nevada has touted its wide racial diversity — an implied knock on New Hampshire, which is 90% white. The lack of racial diversity in Iowa and New Hampshire is one of the main reasons the DNC decided to reinvent the state’s first calendar.

New Hampshire, meanwhile, defended its position, noting that it has fast-growing communities of color and that its “white population has declined by 2%” over the past decade, said Joanne Dowdell, member of the New Hampshire DNC, during the state presentation.

The New Hampshire presenters also pointed to their state’s small size and legendary retail policy, where voters go to see “every running presidential candidate before making a decision,” Senator Jeanne said. Shaheen (DN.H.). Any candidate can take off, regardless of financial strength or standing in other states, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said.

“You get a good chance in New Hampshire,” he added.

But at least one DNC member said he was “disappointed” that New Hampshire “didn’t have a clear reason why they had be the first, other than “it’s in our constitution”.

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