The fight underscores how efforts to restructure the Democratic presidential primary are likely to grow even as Democrats try to maintain unity as they try to take control of the White House and Senate in 2024.
The DNC rules committee voted last month to approve a plan, championed by President Joe Biden, that would strip the Iowa caucus of its traditional pre-primary positions and instead start primaries on Feb. 3. Selected South Carolina. New Hampshire and Nevada hold primaries in three days, Georgia’s on Feb. 13 and Michigan’s in two weeks. Most of the rest of the country will then vote on Super Tuesday in early March.
Democrats proposed a shakeup after the 2020 caucus in Iowa was marred by technical issues. Biden said the newly proposed calendar better reflects his party’s extremely diverse electoral base, which relies heavily on African-American voters.
The president also sought to reward South Carolina, where nearly 27 percent of the population is black, for a decisive victory in South Carolina that revitalized his 2020 presidential campaign after losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada Activity.
The changes will be formally approved for use in next year’s presidential campaign at the full Democratic National Committee meeting in Philadelphia next week.
Nevada and South Carolina have agreed to abide by the new calendar requirements. In Michigan, moving the primary date requires action by the Legislature. Democrats control both chambers of the state, but they need Republican support to implement the reform by the end of February 2024, so it is unclear when the proposed changes might be approved.
The bigger sticking points lie in New Hampshire and Georgia.
New Hampshire law requires it to hold the country’s first primary — a rule that Iowa was able to circumvent only because it held a caucus. Top New Hampshire Democrats say they have successfully fulfilled that responsibility for more than a century and vowed to skip other states and lead the primary again in 2024, regardless of the DNC’s new schedule.
In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger set a date for the state’s primary election. He said he would be willing to move the Georgia primary only if the Republican National Committee pushed to change the date, which didn’t happen.
Wednesday’s vote gave Georgia and New Hampshire more time — but committee members also voiced their displeasure with New Hampshire.
“I really think it’s irresponsible to make a statement in New Hampshire,” said Lee Sanders, a rules board member and president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
“I just want to urge everyone to calm down,” Sanders said.
Rules committee member Leah Daughtry said she was “equally taken aback and quite frankly appalled” by New Hampshire’s opposition to the new calendar. She also rejected the state’s assertion that it should not lose its status because of a tradition that goes back more than a century.
“Putting their argument on this 100-year-old privilege is really, really disturbing to me, as an African-American woman,” Dautrey said, noting that black women were at about There was no voting right a century ago.
JoAnne Dowdell, a rules board member from New Hampshire, countered, “Politics is part of our DNA.”
“We believe it’s possible to have a different voice and keep New Hampshire at the beginning of the process,” Doddell said.
If Biden chooses to run for re-election, as expected, the Democratic primary agenda for 2024 may be moot. In that case, Democrats would have little interest in building a robust primary timetable in which a primary challenger from his own party would run against the president.
The DNC Rules Committee has also committed to revisiting the primary election schedule after 2024. Still, any changes it makes for next year — even without a competitive primary in the end — could help determine which states come first in the future, potentially sparking an important shift toward presidential candidates as future races begin. Where the campaign is at its most intense.
Minyon Moore, co-chair of the rules committee, said its members remain committed to “the president’s vision.”
“We want to make sure that the states have enough time in this process to get their work done,” Moore said.