Democrats move to make South Carolina, not Iowa, first-voting state

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats voted Friday to remove Iowa from the presidential nomination calendar starting in 2024 and replace it with South Carolina, a state championed by President Joe Biden a dramatic reshuffle To better reflect the diversity of the party’s electorate.

DNC’s rulemaking arm moves to spin off Iowa It has maintained its position for five years after tech collapse sparked chaos And undermined the results of the state’s 2020 caucuses.Change is also a long-term push Some of the party’s top leaders are beginning to pick presidents in states with fewer whites, especially given the importance of black voters as the Democratic Party’s most loyal electoral base.

Discussions on prioritizing diversity generated such an enthusiastic response at committee meetings in Washington that DNC ​​Chairman Jamie Harrison wiped away tears as committee member Donna Basile suggested Democrats had failed for years to stand up for black voters Zhan: “Do you know what it’s like? Living on a dirt road? Do you know what it’s like to find clean running water?”

“You know what it’s like to wait to see if a storm is going to pass you and your roof is intact?” Basile asked. “That’s what it’s about.”

Committee approves moving South Carolina primary to Feb. 2. 3 Three days later for Nevada and New Hampshire to vote. Georgia will go next week, Michigan in another two weeks.

The move marks a sea change for the current calendar, Iowa held its first national caucus since 1972, followed by New Hampshire with its first national caucus since 1920. Nevada and South Carolina followed suit since the 2008 presidential election, when Democrats last made major changes to their primary calendars.

The changes still need to be approved by the full DNC in a possible vote early next year, but will almost certainly follow the lead of the rulemaking committee.

If Biden chooses to seek re-election, the revised timeline may be largely moot for 2024, but the Democratic presidency could be reset after that. The president has said for months that he intends to run again, and while no final decision has been made, White House aides have begun staffing discussions about his possible re-election campaign.

The DNC also plans to revisit the master calendar again by 2028 — meaning there could be more changes before then.

Biden writes in letter to rules committee members On Thursday, the party should do away with “restrictive” caucuses altogether, because their rules on in-person participation sometimes exclude working-class and other voters. He also told party leaders privately that he would like to see South Carolina go first to better ensure that voters of color are not marginalized in the Democratic Party’s selection of a presidential candidate.

Four of the five states now poised to start the party’s primaries are presidential battlegrounds, meaning the eventual Democratic winner will be able to lay the groundwork in key general election locations. That’s especially the case in Michigan and Georgia, which both voted for Donald Trump in 2016 before switching to Biden in 2020. The exception is South Carolina, which has not supported a Democrat in a presidential race since 1976.

The top five voting states will vote ahead of “Super Tuesday,” the day most of the rest of the country holds primaries. That wields enormous leverage in early states, as those in the White House hoping to raise money or gain political support often pull out before visiting much of the rest of the country.

Scott Brennan, a rules committee member from Iowa, said a “small rural state” like his “must have a voice” in the presidential nominating process.

“Democrats can’t forget about the entire voter base in the heart of the Midwest without doing significant damage to a new generation of the party,” Brennan said.

The Republican National Committee has decided to keep the Iowa caucus as the first race in the 2024 presidential primary, securing Republican hopes for the White House — including Trump – continues to campaign there often.

House Majority Whip Jim Claiborne, South Carolina’s only congressional Democrat and one of Biden’s leading supporters in Congress, said the president called him on Thursday to inform him of his push for the state to go public. effort to move.

“I didn’t ask to be number one,” Claiborne said. “Being number one was his idea.”

Claiborne’s endorsement of Biden in 2020 has boosted the candidate’s flagging presidential campaign ahead of the South Carolina primary, where he swept the field.That helped Biden shake off early losses In Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and eventually the White House.

“He knows what South Carolina has done for him, and he’s shown it time and time again by respecting South Carolina,” Claiborne said.

Still, the rules board vote faced serious headwinds, with some states vowing to ignore the changes entirely. That’s despite the group’s approval of wording that states could lose all of their delegates to the party’s national convention if they try to violate the new rules.

Iowa and New Hampshire said their states’ laws required them to go ahead and they intended to abide by those laws, not the DNC’s edict. Only committee members from Iowa and New Hampshire opposed the proposal passed Friday, and everyone else supported it.

Nevada, with its large Hispanic population, was initially reluctant to share the No. 2 spot with New Hampshire, 2,500 miles away. Artie Blanco, a Nevada commissioner, spoke hoarsely as she argued against the change.

“If we want to have strong relationships with Hispanics,” Blanco said, “then Nevada has to set a date alone and not have to share that date.”

After more discussions, Blanco later said she would support the new calendar. She said it was “not ideal” for her state to leave on the same day as another state, but “we accept the president’s wishes.”

The new list of five early-voting states will need to show they are working to move their primary dates to those dates by early next year or risk losing their spots, Harrison said. Some state legislatures set primary election dates; others let their secretaries of state or the directors of their state states do it.

Choked up after the vote, the DNC chairman spoke of South Carolina, once the site of the first strikes of the Civil War, as he prepares to lead his party’s primary.

“This proposal reflects the best of our party as a whole and it will continue to make our party and our country stronger,” Harrison said.


AP writer Meg Kinnard from Columbia, South Carolina

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