The DNC votes to shake up the calendar of the presidential primaries

Iowa, which held its caucuses for the first time since 1972, will fall completely out of the early nominating process.

“We’re late to change that primary schedule,” said Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, who led her state’s effort to join the first window for nearly two decades. “No state should have the right to come first.”

The DNC reopened the presidential nomination calendar earlier this year, under pressure from inside and outside the party to diversify voters who can participate early in the process. In December, Biden recommended his favorite list, giving a special nod to states like South Carolina and Georgia that gave him a boost in his 2020 presidential bid. path for a possible Democratic primary challenge before 2024 by elevating states that represent the president’s support base.

The vote follows a rare joint appearance by Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in back-to-back speeches Friday night, previewing the likely 2024 ticket as the pair tested campaign one-liners and attack themes against the GOP.

But there are still logistical challenges Democrats must face before implementing the new lineup, especially around New Hampshire and Georgia, where Republican-controlled legislatures and governors prevent changing primary dates. .

Resistance outside of New Hampshire is particularly fierce, where elected officials and party leaders insist they cannot abide by the DNC’s new timeline because it directly conflicts with state law, which requires them to host the first presidential primary a week before any other state. They vowed to hold their contest first, regardless of the DNC’s decision.

On Saturday morning, Democrats in New Hampshire and Iowa issued a final appeal to DNC members, urging them to reconsider the proposal. But that didn’t change the vote.

“It’s not about New Hampshire history or state pride. This is a state law that we cannot unilaterally change,” said Joanne Dowdell, who represents New Hampshire on the rules and regulations committee.

She also raised the possibility that if Biden doesn’t file a potential state sanction in New Hampshire, “it could provide an opening for an insurgent candidate” who could “potentially win the first presidential primary of 2024, something.” that nobody in this room wants to see.

But some DNC members pushed back against New Hampshire, including Leah Daughtry, a member of the rules and regulations committee who said she had “heard a lot about a state law” that “kinda gives some people a divine right of privilege”, but “none of that”. is more important than what the party says it wants in its process.

Although DNC members approved the schedule on Saturday, there are still several outstanding issues. POLITICO lays out what’s still to come for the Democratic presidential calendar:

Delayed penalties

Even though Democrats approved the new schedule on Saturday, there’s no guarantee it will hold in 2024. New Hampshire and Georgia have yet to move their prime dates. Earlier this month, the rules and regulations committee granted the pair an extension until June 3, which also kicked off any discussion about sanctions against states that don’t comply in the summer.

Each state faces different challenges. New Hampshire Democrats have vowed they will hold their first primary in the nation, arguing they are ‘ready to bear’ the consequences as long as ‘sanctions don’t impact our candidates,’ the official said. New Hampshire. Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley at a news conference Friday afternoon.

But the severity of the penalties the DNC could impose on New Hampshire is unclear. Last year, the rules and regulations committee voted to strengthen its sanctioning power over states that jump the line. Not only will these states automatically lose half of their delegates, but the DNC has also broadly empowered the national party chairman to take any other “appropriate action” to enforce the first window.

Georgia, meanwhile, faces an even steeper climb. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, sets the date for the state’s primaries, and his office has already ruled out splitting the Democratic and Republican primaries into two different dates. The office also said it would not plan a primary that compromised delegates from either party.

Any changes should also “be fair to both political parties,” Assistant Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said last month.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp also announced last month that he would not support any changes.

If Georgia failed to move its primary date, then it would fall out of the first window, reducing the number of early states from five to four.

How will the Republicans react?

The reordering of the DNC’s primary schedule separates Democrats from Republicans, who have held nearly identical lineups since 2008. The Republican National Committee, which has an open presidential primary contest in 2024, voted last year to affirm its current list of the first states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. They could also impose sanctions on states that choose to jump the line.

“The RNC passed its rules unanimously over a year ago and cemented the traditional nominating process that the American people know and understand,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said in a released statement. shortly after the DNC vote. “The DNC has decided to break a half-century precedent and wreak havoc by changing its core process and ultimately failing millions of Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire.”

For Republicans in Michigan, that could be particularly problematic since they now face a Democratic-controlled state legislature and a governor’s mansion. Last week, the Michigan Legislature passed a bill to change the state’s primary date, which is expected to be signed by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

An RNC party aide noted that states have until October 1 to alert the RNC of how they plan to allocate their delegates, and “if Michigan’s main date violates our rules, the state party may choose to hold their own process on a compliant date or accept the delegate penalty,” the aide continued.

To be redone in 2026

Democrats will revisit the timeline for early nominations before 2028, reopening the state nomination process to be part of the first window. But that could present a bigger challenge for Democrats, who are set to face an open presidential primary in 2028, which could make it harder for the party to impose sanctions on states or candidates who seek to veer off the approved schedule. .

It’s not yet clear how the 2024 schedule could set a precedent for 2028, but “those three states will have experience,” Daughtry said, referring to South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan, the three most popular states. most likely to appear in the first window of 2024.

“To the extent that experience running an early primary is a plus, it’s a plus,” Daughtry said.

New Hampshire’s approach in 2024 could also impact its ability to regain entry into the first window in 2028, several DNC members noted privately.

But Buckley said “it’s going to be an open presidential race,” which will change the dynamics and incentives for candidates to campaign in New Hampshire, and “we’ll have that conversation in 2026 and 2027.”


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