Honoring President Joe Biden’s wishes, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) Rules and Bylaws Committee on Dec. 2 overwhelmingly passed a proposal that would drastically reshape the 2024 presidential nominating calendar.
Under the measure, Iowa would be stripped of its first-in-the-nation caucus position and replaced by South Carolina, a state with a larger black population that helped Biden win the 2020 presidential election.
The panel proposed that South Carolina’s primary be held on Feb. 3 followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 13, and Michigan on Feb. 27.
The slate of states better reflects the diversity that composes the party’s base, DNC officials claim.
“We hold on to traditions because they give us a sense of security sometimes,” former DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile, who sits on the rules panel, said after the vote.
“Sometimes we hold on to traditions because they give us a foundation from which we grow,” Brazile added. “But as many of us know on this committee, we also believe that traditions can be passed down and transferred especially when you’re opening up new doors and you’re helping to expand the electorate so that every American can enjoy full citizenship.”
DNC member Stuart Appelbaum of New York said that the committee’s job is “not just to choose states and the order in which they go, but to tell the story of who we are as a party and who we are as a nation.”
“Our early states must reflect the overall diversity of our party and our nation, economically, geographically, demographically,” Appelbaum added. “I think that the story we are telling with these selections is a story we can be proud of as the Democratic Party of the United States. This is what our party looks like. This is what America looks like.”
Iowa is traditionally the first state to have a closed caucus when residents gather in person to announce their votes. The first primary has been held in New Hampshire since 1920.
During the 2020 nomination cycle, Biden struggled in Iowa and New Hampshire. He placed fourth in the Iowa caucuses behind Pete Buttigieg, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
In New Hampshire, Biden finished fifth.
Sanders prevailed in Nevada, but Biden registered a decisive victory in South Carolina, bolstered by black voters.
After that primary, multiple candidates dropped out and directed their support to Biden.
Biden addressed a letter to the DNC on Dec. 1 that encouraged the party to end closed caucuses and adjust the early primary calendar to include states that are more diverse.
“Too often over the past fifty years, candidates have dropped out or had their candidacies marginalized by the press and pundits because of poor performances in small states early in the process before voters of color cast a vote,” Biden wrote. “As I said then, 99.9 percent of black voters had not had the chance to vote at that point, and 99.8 percent of Latino voters had not had the opportunity. That is unacceptable in 2024, and it must change.”
Representatives from Iowa and New Hampshire offered the only objections at the panel’s Dec. 2 vote.
Enacting the proposed calendar could be a daunting challenge. The proposal must now be approved at a full DNC meeting, which will take place early next year.
Primary dates are created at the state level, and every state has its own format.
According to the proposal passed on Dec. 2, the five states have a Jan. 5 deadline to adjust their primary date. If this does not happen, the states would surrender their ability to host an approved early primary.
In South Carolina, each party is free to select its own primary date.
New Hampshire and Iowa have state laws that ensure their early primary statuses.
In New Hampshire, the governor, Senate majority leader, and House majority leader must submit signed letters to the committee authorizing the required statutory changes to have the primary on a new date. All three of those elected officials are Republicans.
Joanne Dowdell, who is New Hampshire’s representative to the committee, said, “New Hampshire does have a statute. We do have a law. And we will not be breaking our law.
“And I feel that any lawyer in the room or around the table would agree that it is not in the best interest of this body to even suggest that we do that,” Dowdell added.
Citing a lack of diversity in Iowa and New Hampshire, and Iowa’s technical issues during the 2020 caucus, the DNC established an application process for states to pitch why they should be included in the top five nominating states.
Representatives from 16 states and Puerto Rico delivered presentations to the DNC in Washington, D.C., in June.
The committee decided to delay its decision until the midterm elections were completed in November.
New Hampshire’s delegation argued that the state’s small size, experience in hosting the first primary, and significant voter participation are reasons why it is an ideal proving ground for presidential campaigns.
Even if the DNC imposes penalties, like removing the state’s delegate authority, New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said they will defy any primary calendar decision from the committee.
“The DNC did not give New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation primary and it is not theirs to take away,” Buckley said in a statement. “This news is obviously disappointing, but we will be holding our primary first.”
Upon learning of Biden’s position, New Hampshire Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen released a pointed statement that mirrored Buckley’s comments.
“As frustrating as this decision is, it holds no bearing over when we choose our primary date: New Hampshire’s state law stipulates that we will hold the ‘First-in-the-Nation’ primary,” Shaheen said. “We look forward to hosting candidates in New Hampshire for the 2024 presidential primary and showing the country that we should continue to be entrusted with the ‘First-in-the-Nation’ primary that yields timely, reliable results with a process that levels the playing field for all candidates, regardless of clout or background.”
Before the Dec. 2 vote, Iowa state Rep. Ross Wilburn offered his opinion about what would happen if the proposal passed.
Aside from a few counties in Michigan, no early state on the proposed calendar will occupy the Central or Mountain time zones, which cover most of America’s heartland.
“They will be ignoring the voice of middle America with all our diversity and all of the strong grassroots networks that we have,” said Wilburn, who is the first black person to chair his state’s Democratic Party.
“Small rural states like Iowa must have a voice in our Presidential nominating process,” Wilburn added. “Democrats cannot forget about entire groups of voters in the heart of the Midwest without doing significant damage to the party for a generation. I’m proud of the commitment Iowa Democrats have made to advancing diverse Presidential candidates over the years.”
If the Democratic primary proposal is enacted, it will break with the Republican calendar. In April, the Republican National Committee voted to keep the early lineup of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.
After the recent vote, Iowa Republicans announced their support of their Democratic colleagues.
“Regardless of what the DNC says, I encourage the Iowa Democratic Party to move forward with its plan to follow Iowa law and hold Iowa’s First-in-the-Nation Caucuses just as the Republican Party of Iowa is doing,” U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said in a statement on Dec. 2. “Iowa should not allow coastal headwinds to blow away Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status.”
Iowa’s Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said on Twitter that “Democrats have abandoned rural America and denied everyday Iowans a voice in the presidential nominating process. It’s disappointing that there wasn’t much of a debate, but that’s what happens when a ruling elite gives orders from the top down.
“Make no mistake, Iowa Republicans will continue to protect this time-honored tradition,” Reynolds added.
From The Epoch Times