Democrats set to shake up presidential primary schedule

States like Michigan and Minnesota are trying to put pressure on, while Nevada is playing for the nation’s premier status over New Hampshire. The committee has always left open the possibility of adding a fifth calendar to the list, while it has also been suggested that two states could hold their contests on the same day. We don’t know how much that will change. But there is at least one clear preference on the part of many Democratic leaders, both outside and inside these party deliberations: that Iowa be removed from its coveted top spot.

“I don’t think it’s possible for Iowa to stay and there’s no reason for Iowa to stay,” said a Democrat familiar with the DNC rules and regulations committee process, the group responsible for rearranging the schedule. “From an electoral point of view, we completely lost Iowa.”

Later this week, the rules committee will meet again in Washington, DC, to discuss the matter. They are expected to move forward with a proposal for the 2024 presidential nomination schedule at the meeting, sources familiar with the agenda say, which will then go to the full DNC for a vote in late January or at the beginning of February.

But some DNC members are frustrated by the White House’s silence.

“If the president says he wants this state or this state at the start of the window, then I’m going to support him because he’s the leader of the party and I imagine everyone else [rules committee] member feels the same,” said a DNC member, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly. “So it’s frustrating when we’ve invested all this time and energy and money into this whole process and the White House hasn’t given us anything, even though we’re only days away from making a decision. “

“It’s almost like Kabuki theater,” the person continued.

Some of the outstanding questions facing the DNC were reshaped by November’s midterm results.

One is which state would replace Iowa, representing the Midwest region in the range of early states. Michigan and Minnesota are both seen as the top contenders in the slot, positions that were further strengthened by November’s results. Democrats overthrew both Michigan state legislative houses and re-elected Governor Gretchen Whitmer, while Minnesota Democrats also won trifecta control there by overthrowing the state Senate and re-electing Governor Tim Walz.

These victories pave the way for both states to legislatively change the date of their primaries, removing the logistical hurdles they would have faced without these results. Walz, along with other state leaders, sent a letter to DNC members this month confirming his state party’s commitment to passing such legislation, saying Minnesota “is a highly representative approximation of the country. , coupled with a strong state and local party infrastructure, an engaged electorate, and a logistical and financial advantage for campaigns.

representing Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who led her state’s charge to advance the nominations schedule, said she would make moving to the first window her “primary goal” in a letter to her state’s central committee, soliciting their support for her candidacy for an open seat on the DNC.

“The key groups Democrats must persuade and win in national elections are the backbone of our state,” Dingell wrote in his letter. “Michigan is the most diverse battleground state and a microcosm of America.”

Several DNC members said they believe Michigan currently holds an advantage over Minnesota. But Michigan could face a setback due to its larger size, some members said, given the committee has frequently raised in previous meetings that states should be small and accessible enough for lesser-known candidates to do. campaign and win.

“The big hesitation that those of us who are pro-Michigan will hear is, are they too big? Are they going to eclipse the other three? said another DNC member. “But Michigan did everything we had said they had to do to get in.”

Michigan proponents note that the state has several cheaper media markets, such as Flint and Grand Rapids. But Detroit, a much larger market, would still require millions of dollars in spending from presidential campaigns to get the message out to voters.

Iowa, for its part, continues to struggle. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn sent a letter to the Rules and Bylaws Committee Monday night, outlining his party’s plans for a “mail-in ballot expression of presidential preference” — an effort to simplify a convoluted and difficult caucus system that imploded in 2020, when efforts to tabulate the results failed on caucus night.

“It is essential that rural states like Iowa have a voice” and the party “cannot abandon an entire group of voters in the heart of the Midwest without hurting the party for a generation,” Wilburn wrote in the letter, which was obtained by POLITICS.

But Iowa, a predominantly white state that has an increasingly Republican leaning, doesn’t fit well with the criteria set out by the DNC, which aimed to prioritize racially, economically and geographically diverse states that are competitive in elections. general.

It’s part of Nevada’s pitch to overtake New Hampshire, should Iowa lose influence atop the schedule. In a note to DNC membersNevada Democrats have argued that its small but diverse population, along with its narrow margins in the general election, proves its relevance for the first window.

“Nevada first will help Democrats win future presidential elections more than any other state under consideration,” wrote Rebecca Lambe, former adviser to the late Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

New Hampshire, meanwhile, can also say that its small size and tight general election history have produced strong presidential contenders for a century. It also relies heavily on its own state laws, which state that it is the nation’s first primary state and gives officials the latitude to change the primary date from year to year to ensure it remains Thus.

Ray Buckley, Chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party tells WMUR that he doesn’t believe the committee will approve drastic changes based on “my conversations with members,” he said.

Whatever the DNC decides to do, it will represent a fundamental break with the Republicans, after nearly two decades of a fairly tied agenda.

Earlier this year, the Republican National Committee voted to reaffirm its current list of first states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. If a state tried to jump the line, the RNC would sanction those states by removing some of their delegates.

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