Democrats raise South Carolina, Michigan in new presidential election schedule

WASHINGTON — The Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee has inherited that from President Joe Biden recommended changes to the president’s primary schedule on Friday, making South Carolina the first primary state and Michigan the first primary state in the Midwest.

In line with proposals Biden submitted to the committee Thursday, the first five primaries in the 2024 election cycle are now to be South Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Georgia and Michigan. The New Hampshire and Nevada primary would be held on the same day shortly after the South Carolina contest in February this year, followed by Georgia and Michigan on separate dates later in the month.

The changes remove Iowa from its historic place at the start of the presidential primary calendar and dramatically raise the status of more racially diverse states, South Carolina and Michigan.

“We truly believe that this window, which reflects our values, paints a vivid picture of our nation and creates a strong process that will result in the best Democratic candidate,” said Minyon Moore, co-chair of the Rules of Procedure and Rules of Procedure Committee Committee meeting begins Friday in Washington.

The broader membership of the Democratic National Committee has yet to vote to approve the plan at a winter meeting in February, but that’s widely viewed as a formality.

Proponents of Michigan’s main square in the new schedule touted the state’s large Black, Hispanic, and Arab American populations; the strength of its organized labor movement; and its status as a critical swing condition.

“Michigan is a much closer approximation to the diversity of the country and, in my opinion, a much more important test of whether a candidate has what it takes to win a national election,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), the personally championed Biden on behalf of Michigan, HuffPost said Thursday.

But the result is a disappointment to Nevada officials, who were fishing for the first berth, and to Minnesota officials, who argued that its moderate size made it a more natural choice as the Midwest’s premier middle school.

Ken Martin, the leader of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, told HuffPost Thursday that Michigan’s size would make the competition for new candidates expensive and reduce the number of small face-to-face meetings with voters that historically shaped this first few primary competitions.

“There are major concerns about Michigan’s size, both in terms of the competitiveness of candidates in this early window and the fact that its delegate size would dwarf the other three early states and could skew the entire early states process. said Martin.

For their part, New Hampshire’s representatives at the DNC – and his congress delegation — have said they plan to proceed with their elementary school’s schedule, despite any changes the DNC is making to their schedule. Its status as the nation’s first elementary school is enshrined in state law, the Granite State’s top Democrats have noted.

“We have a law. We will not break our law,” Joanne Dowdell, a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee from New Hampshire and one of two members of the group voting against adopting the new schedule, said at Friday’s meeting. “I have a feeling every attorney in the room or at the table would agree that it’s not in the best interest of this body to even suggest that we do that.”

But senior DNC officials are confident that the party has the power to either pressure New Hampshire to change its state law or to punish it by reducing its importance on the presidential election calendar.

In the past, national political parties have penalized states that set a date for presidential elections by to reduce the number of congressional delegates a presidential candidate who wins the state can receive.

The DNC passed rules in August that would automatically strip half of its congressional delegates from any state that defies the committee’s schedule. The party body could strip such a state of all its delegates if it so wished.

Additionally, the DNC has banned candidates seeking the Democratic nomination from running in a state that skips the line, including petitioning to appear on the ballot in such state before that state’s unauthorized caucus or primary. (Candidates can run in these states after the unsanctioned nominating contest has taken place.)

“We put together an order that we think will work best for the party.”

– Mo Elleithee, member of the Democratic National Committee

“Other states that have state laws [related to primaries] are willing to change it,” Mo Elleithee, a veteran Democratic activist and member of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, told HuffPost on Friday. “We put together an order that we think is best for the party. It’s one that still exists [New Hampshire] a pretty good spot in this lineup.”

Elleithee also disagreed with criticism from figures such as Martin, who eventually voted in favor of the changes in his capacity as a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee.

“If we were going to start with Michigan, I get it. But we’re not,” he said. “Michigan comes in fifth, which means candidates will still be running in these smaller states.”

One irony of the current deliberations over the presidential primary schedule is that the Democratic nomination is unlikely to be contested in 2024. Biden has announced that he will seek a second term. If he lives up to that commitment, he would be the prohibitive favorite against any potential challenger.

One benefit of reorganizing the primary calendar ahead of the sleepy 2024 nomination process, rather than waiting for the 2028 contest to begin in earnest, is that the political climate within the party is less fraught than it is likely to be ahead of a contentious primary.

“This is the time for this debate, not when we go into open competition because then a whole different level of politics seeps in,” Elleithee said.

Many Democrats have been calling for an overhaul of the schedule for the Democratic presidential primary for some time. In particular, critics of the Iowa Caucus had argued that the state’s predominantly white makeup and increasingly Republican orientation made Iowa ill-suited for the opening contest of the contemporary Democratic Party’s presidential nomination process.

The dysfunction that characterized the 2020 Iowa caucus hastened the state’s decline in the Democratic pecking order. A mobile application that the Iowa Democratic Party tapped to tabulate caucus districts to report their results malfunctioned and miscalculated results, causing confusion and frustration as Democrats across the country questioned the validity of the intricate caucus system as a whole.

As of Thursday, however, it was unclear whether Biden had a clear plan to reshuffle the primary schedule or would leave DNC officials alone to develop reforms.

Biden made clear to leadership of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee Thursday what he wanted for the first five states, and he outlined the broader values ​​he wanted to uphold with the new schedule in a public letter to the committee.

The primary goal is to ensure that Democratic presidential nominees show they have a foothold with non-white voters much earlier in the nomination process than has been the case so far.

“We need to ensure that voters of color have a voice in selecting our candidate much earlier in the process and throughout the early window,” Biden wrote. “As I said in February 2020, you cannot be the Democratic nominee and win a general election unless you have the overwhelming support of voters of color — and that includes black, brown, and Asian American and Pacific Islander people.”

Biden also strongly encouraged states to do away with caucuses in favor of the simpler primary system. He argued that caucuses, which have historically required hours of in-person deliberations, impede broader participation in the nomination process.

“Caucuses — which require voters to vote publicly, spend a lot of time at caucuses, penalize hourly workers and anyone who doesn’t have the flexibility to go to a set time at a set time — are inherently anti-participatory,” wrote Biden. “It should be our party’s goal to rid the nomination process of restrictive, anti-working class factions.”

Scott Brennan, a member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee from Iowa and the other person who voted against the changes, accused Biden of refusing to acknowledge the progress Iowa Democrats have made in reforming their caucus process . He noted that the party had switched to a mail-only caucus system.

“Make no mistake, Iowa Republicans will take this opportunity to double their caucuses and feed the narrative that Democrats have turned their backs on Iowa,” Brennan said. “The actions taken here will be seen as a refusal to engage in dialogue with voters and will exacerbate Iowa’s electoral difficulties.”

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