WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is recommending that South Carolina, the state that elevated him to front-runner status in the 2020 primary, start the 2024 Democrats’ presidential nomination competition, according to a Democratic source familiar with the plan.
In doing so, it has sparked a frenzy of fighting between early contending states that are apoplexic over the proposal.
The proposed order would remove Iowa’s caucus initiative. Instead, South Carolina would go first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day, followed by Georgia and then Michigan, according to two senior party officials.
The plan drew howls from New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley, who first told NBC News that his state would be the first primary contest no matter what.
The Democratic National Committee “did not give New Hampshire the first primary in the nation,” Buckley said. “It’s not theirs to take away. We’ll have our primary first.”
South Carolina, however, was elated.
“It looks like Joe Biden is not just trying to transform America, but he’s trying to transform the way we elect presidents, and his impact will be felt for generations to come,” said South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson. .
The White House laid out a plan, first reported by the washington post and confirmed by NBC News, in which Biden called for a schedule that had the South Carolina primary first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, and after that Georgia and then Michigan.
In a letter Thursday to the DNC’s Committee on Rules and Bylaws, Biden, who did not specify his preferred order of states, wrote: “For decades, black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party, but they have been pushed to the posterior part of the early primary process”.
He also said Democrats “should no longer allow caucuses as part of our nominating process,” dealing an expected blow to Iowa.
NBC News reported earlier in the day that the officials were about to leave Iowa and move up. Michigan on its presidential primary schedule beginning in 2024, according to several Democratic officials involved in the process.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., called the White House plan “shortsighted” and vowed Thursday to stay the course in the state’s tradition of holding the first primary in the nation, citing a state statute that dictates that New Hampshire must hold its primary seven days before any other state.
“It is unfortunate that the White House’s myopic decision risks dividing the candidates’ attention, denying voters crucial opportunities to connect with the candidates and hear their political views and priorities,” Shaheen said in a statement.
“As frustrating as this decision is, it does not influence when we choose the date of our primaries,” he added. “We look forward to hosting candidates in New Hampshire for the 2024 presidential primary.”
Party members debating the future of their nomination process have been anxiously awaiting news from the White House ahead of a key meeting on Friday.
The reorganization, which party members hope will be formally proposed at a meeting of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that begins Friday, is aimed at simultaneously increasing the influence of non-white voters in the nomination process and ensuring that Democrats choose standard-bearers who can compete effectively against the Republicans. in battlefield states.
“I want our primary process to reflect the direction of our party,” said a committee member. Michigan offers racial and ethnic diversity, as well as a mix of urban, suburban and rural voters, this person said, adding, “Iowa just doesn’t have that.”
Final ratification won’t take place until the next meeting of the full DNC early next year, but the White House endorsement paved the way for the new plan and elevation of certain states.
After news of the proposed statewide order broke, Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Michigan indicated she was pleased her state was included in the top five races, while noting that the list was still weeks away from finalizing.
“This is not done,” he said in a phone interview, noting that “it’s going to be hard” to get the entire Democratic National Committee through.
Michigan, which had been seen as a top contender for weeks, is a Midwestern battleground state, critical for Democrats’ so-called Blue Wall, and has the racial, economic and geographic diversity Democrats said they are seeking. . It is also much larger than any of the other primitive states.
Democrats also flipped the Michigan Legislature, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won re-election last month, securing state support for the new primary date. the state senate voted Tuesday to move the presidential primary to the second Tuesday in February, one month before its current date.
“It’s something that people have been pushing for for a long time. I think it would be great for our state. I think we would be a great fit,” Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., said Thursday.
While Nevada was on the list to keep its spot as first in the West, top party and political officials in the state were disappointed that it was not first overall. Nevada Democrats were perhaps the most aggressive in their attempts to supplant New Hampshire as the first primary.
Democratic Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada voiced their opposition to Biden’s recommendation, highlighting their state’s status as a presidential battleground, unlike the red-hot South Carolina.
“We strongly believe that the first presidential nominating contest should be held in a competitive, pro-worker state that supports voting access and reflects the full diversity of America; in other words, a state that actually aligns with the DNC’s own priorities for updating the schedule,” the senators said in a statement late Thursday. “This proposed new order of first states ignores the broad coalition of organizations and national leaders calling for Nevada to be first, and instead elevates a state that does not meet the criteria to begin this process.”
“We hope this proposal will be modified and improved to address these serious concerns,” they added.
In a previous interview, Cortez Masto said that Nevada is “a microcosm” of the US.
“You can come to this state when you run for president and [if] your message resonates and you win Nevada, then that message will carry you around the rest of the country,” he said.
Dozens of other states submitted bids to join the early states, which are given permission by the Democratic and Republican parties to hold their nominating contests before the rest.
Democrats have been revising their calendar since 2020, when the Iowa Democrats failed their caucuses, a debacle that followed years of criticism that the increasingly Republican state is too red politically and too white demographically to play such a critical role. in the selection of Democratic candidates.
In his three White House runs, Biden has never performed well in Iowa. He excelled in the state in 1998, won less than 1% of state delegate equivalents in 2008 and placed fourth in 2020.
As president and leader of his party, Biden, who most expect to run essentially unopposed for the Democratic nomination in 2024, carries weight.
The Republicans still plan to take Iowa, which has had coveted first-in-the-nation status since the 1970s. That means the two parties will have different presidential primary maps for the first time in years.
Some in Iowa have threatened to hold their caucuses early regardless of what the DNC says, but states that try to disrupt or disobey the national party risk losing representation at national conventions, where presidential candidates are formally selected.
The DNC refused to seat half of the delegates from Michigan and Florida in 2008 after the states moved their primaries forward without authorization.