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Democrats Overhaul Party’s Primary Calendar, Upending a Political Tradition


PHILADELPHIA — Building on decades of political tradition, members of the Democratic National Committee voted on Saturday to pass a sweeping overhaul of the Democratic primary process, a important step in President Biden’s Effort to change the way the party chooses its presidential candidates.

For years, the Democratic nomination contests began with caucuses in Iowa and primaries in New Hampshire, a matter of immense pride in those states, and source of political identity for many highly engaged residents.

But amid strong calls for a calendar that better reflects the racial diversity of the Democratic Party and the country — and then Iowa’s 2020 Crisis lead to a large delay in results – Democrats endorse a propose that will begin the 2024 Democratic presidential primary on February 3 in South Carolina, the state that has revived Mr. Biden’s failed candidacy. This was followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, Georgia on February 13 and then Michigan on February 27.

“This is a significant effort to make the presidential primaries process more reflective of this country’s diversity and address the issues that will determine the outcome of the November election. part of the initial process,” said Representative Debbie Dingell, Michigan Democrat. persons promote to move to her state.

It’s a calendar that in many ways rewards the racially diverse states that made Mr. Biden president in 2020.

But the logistical challenges to fully enact it remain. And opposition to the proposal has been particularly acute in New Hampshire, where officials have swear to keep basic first anyway, regardless of the consequences.

New Hampshire, a small state where voters are accustomed to cornering candidates in eateries and intimate town halls, has long held its first primaries as an election. primary election. State law issues.

Republicans in New Hampshire, who control the governor’s mansion and the state legislature, have insisted that they have not interested in changing that law, and many Democrats in the state have just strong and argued that they cannot unilaterally change. Some have also warned that Mr. Biden could invite someone camping in the state to challenge the primary or cause actual opposition to his expected re-election bid.

Mr. Biden has had a difficult political history with the state – he put Thursday there in 2020 – but he also has longtime friends and allies in New Hampshire, some of whom have wrote a letter expressed concerns about the proposal.

The DNC Rules and Regulations Committee awarded New Hampshire until the beginning of June working to meet the requirements of the proposed calendar, but some Democrats in the state have made it clear that their position will not change.

“They can say June, they can say next week, they can say after five years, but that doesn’t matter,” said former Governor John Lynch, who signed the letter to Biden. “It’s like asking New York to move the Statue of Liberty from New York to Florida. I mean, that’s not going to happen. And it’s not going to happen that we’re going to change state law.”

But many prominent Democrats have been adamant that the committee should indulge Mr Biden’s opinion, reflecting his position as head of the party.

“If he called me and said, ‘Jim Clyburn, I’ve decided that South Carolina shouldn’t be in the preliminary,’ I wouldn’t like it at all, but I certainly wouldn’t object, ” she said. Representative James E. Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and a close ally of Biden. His state, under the new proposal, would occupy the most influential place on the primary calendar, although Mr. Clyburn said he personally does not believe in early state order as long as South Carolina remains part of the state. opportunity.


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DNC rules require consequences for any states that operate outside of the original lineup approved by the committee. That state would run the risk of losing delegates during the nomination process — New Hampshire could drop from 32 delegates to just 16, for example, if it exceeds the lineup, which could put candidates at risk. Hunt delegates question about time investment.

To be sure, the New Hampshire primary has historically been more about generating momentum and media attention than winning the grand delegate prize. Even so, Democrats in New Hampshire have called on the DNC not to sanction the state, and party officials there hope the issue of sanctions remains discussed to some extent.

Candidates who campaign in such states may also face consequences, such as not receiving delegates from that particular state.

Such consequences for candidates would be much more relevant in a primary. Much of the drama surrounding the calendar will likely be debated if Mr. Biden runs for re-election, as he has said he intends to do, and if he doesn’t face a major serious challenge.

Whether the president will campaign in New Hampshire if the state defies the DNC-approved calendar is an open question. Some Democrats have also questioned whether there is an effort, if New Hampshire fails to comply, to replace it with another Northeast state to represent the region.

Georgia Democrats have also been given an extension until June to try to hold a new scheduled primaries, but they face logistical hurdles of their own.

Republicans have agreed to an early primaries schedule, preserving the order of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, and rules by the Republican National Committee stating which states pass in second place. will lose delegates.

Main day of Georgia determined by the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and officials from his office Has emphasized that they are not interested in holding two primaries or risk losing delegates.

Iowa Democrats argue that with significant hurdles still facing the new calendar, their state should be considered as a safer bet to hold an early contest.

“We currently have a process with a lot of uncertainty and possibly uncertainty — not even a chance to achieve a resolution,” said Scott Brennan, member of the Rules and Regulations Committee from Iowa. Some things are clear — until June. “You made the Mountain and Central time zones the fly-over country for presidential nomination calendar purposes, and that was just wrong.”

The Iowa caucuses are deeply ingrained in the political culture of the state and even its eat and drink culture, and seasoned voters polling politicians about fried foods at state fairs. But officials acknowledged significant mistakes with the last caucus process and promised changes. Mr. Brennan said that Iowa Democrats have been more quiet in public protest than their New Hampshire counterparts, but how they can proceed with their caucus timing is an issue. open question.

Meanwhile, Nevada, South Carolina, and Michigan responded to the committee’s requests to hold early primaries, according to a letter from the leaders of the Rules and Regulations Committee.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan this week signed a bill moving the state primaries to February 27. Yes. there are still questions about how quickly that could work and how Republicans in the state might react, but Democrats there voiced confidence that the vote could be held on the proposed schedule. DNC.

also had some resistance for the idea of ​​South Carolina – a state that leans Republican and cannot compete in presidential general elections – acts as the leading state, while others have strongly defended the idea. thought to elevate it.

Despite that, the reshuffle may be temporary: Mr. Biden urged the Rules and Regulations Committee review calendar every four years, and the committee has hug stepto do that process.

Some Democrats have taken Biden’s interest in the calendar list as a sign that he plans to run for president again.

“I have made it very clear to him that I very much hope he will run for re-election,” Mr. Clyburn said recently.

Asked about Mr. Biden’s reaction, Mr. Clyburn replied: “He laughed.”

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