DNC sets criteria for deciding who will run first presidential nominating contests in 2024

The Democratic National Committee on Wednesday began the process of determining which states will hold the party’s first presidential nominating contests in 2024 — which could knock Iowa out of its traditional spot as number one in the nation.

The DNC’s Rules and Regulations Committee (RBC) has approved a resolution outlining the criteria the powerful committee will consider among the states vying for the first primary window.

The resolution says no more than five states can hold their primaries or caucuses before the first Tuesday in March. Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina have been the four states in this window since 2008.

The committee will consider three main criteria to select the first states in 2024: diversity, competitiveness and feasibility. Diversity, according to the resolution, includes the weighting of racial, ethnic, geographic and economic diversity, as well as union representation.

National Democrats will also examine state competitiveness in the general election. Among the feasibility requirements the committee will consider include whether states can move their contest into the first window, whether they can organize a “fair, transparent and inclusive nomination process” and the logistical requirements and cost of the campaign in this state.

“This is not a checklist, these are factors to consider,” said RBC co-chairman Jim Roosevelt. “Each state does not have to pass muster on every item.”

The criteria are similar to what some RBC members offered in March, when there was talk of removing Iowa from its spot. Some Democrats say Iowa, a 90% white state, shouldn’t be the first nominating contest, and they note that former President Donald Trump’s margin of victory in the state shows that it is not currently competitive in the general election.

“As chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, I look forward to advocating for Iowa alongside my fellow state premiership leaders from New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada,” he said. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said in a statement after an earlier RBC meeting.

Democrats aiming to increase diversity early in the primary process also raised questions about New Hampshire, which is 93% white, but that state drew less pointed criticism than Iowa, in part because it organizes a primary rather than a caucus and was more competitive. in the recent presidential elections.

“New Hampshire is one of the last places where retail politics reign,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement. “The successful candidates come out of New Hampshire stronger for being here and ready for the fight ahead.”

Last year, Nevada passed a law saying it would hold the first primary. That puts it in conflict with New Hampshire, which also has a law claiming the first primary, demonstrating the complex web the DNC must navigate during this process.

Nevada Democrats are pushing hard for the top spot. Democratic state chairwoman Judith Whitmer said she has received updates from a team led by Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Jacky Rosen who are pressing the case.

“Nevada is definitely a state that would meet all the criteria, especially in the area of ​​diversity and inclusiveness,” Whitmer said.

DNC President Jaime Harrison, a native of South Carolina, told CBS News in March that “South Carolina likes to be where it is.” The state, which launched President Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2020, is currently holding the fourth nominating contest.

RBC committee members added language to the resolution to ensure that there is at least one state in the first window from four different regions.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen here with Iowa or any other state in the Midwest, but I think it’s important that the Midwest not be a flyover country,” RBC fellow Ken Martin said. of Minnesota, which proposed to add this language.

Some members suggested offering clear definitions of what the committee will consider, but other members suggested the resolution provide flexibility for states to make their case if they do not meet all the criteria. RBC member Elaine Kamarck suggested that states that hold a traditional caucus, which Iowa does, should not be part of the first window, but other members skeptical of caucuses said that these States should be able to argue for a place.

“It’s going to take a really big effort and a really strong case to get a caucus state to convince me, but I want them to make their case and they could prove me wrong,” RBC member Mo Elleithee said. who criticized Iowa in previous meetings.

Scott Brennan, an RBC member from Iowa, said the committee shouldn’t eliminate states before nominations are received. He was the only member to vote against the resolution.

After the meeting, Brennan said he was offended by some members’ suggestions that Iowa shouldn’t bother applying for the first window.

“It was incredibly offensive,” he said. “And you saw he had no support from the committee (as a whole). So I didn’t appreciate that. I thought it was just patently offensive.”

Once the resolution is approved, there will be a sprint for interested states to apply to enter the first window. More than a dozen states have applied to enter the first window ahead of the 2008 primary, when Democrats last changed their anticipated schedule.

States Parties will soon be advised to submit Letters of Intent if they wish to enter the first window. Once states send those letters, applications will be due June 3 and they will make their submissions to RBC later that month. A decision on which states will enter the first window is expected to come at meetings scheduled for July 8 and 9.

During the review process, there will be four virtual listening sessions to discuss potential schedule changes.

New Jersey Democrats have expressed interest in moving forward, arguing that the state has a diverse population, is small enough to navigate during a campaign, and has changed its election laws to expand ballot access.

“After 50 years of doing the same dance, now is the time to reshuffle the cards,” New Jersey Democratic President LeRoy Jones Jr. told CBS News in an interview.

Mr Biden won New Jersey by 16 points in 2020, but Democratic Governor Phil Murphy beat his opponent by just three points in 2021. Jones said the election was a “wake-up call” and expects Garden State to be more competitive in 2024. He also dismissed concerns that its advertising market is too expensive for lesser-known candidates to gain traction. , saying campaigns need to run sophisticated digital operations, not just run ads.

“If you are not in a position to run for president in terms of funding and know what it takes to do so in terms of media markets, campaign structures, staffing and digital programs you will have to pitch, then you shouldn’t be in the game,” Jones said. He also dismissed concerns that his ad market is too expensive for lesser-known candidates to gain traction, saying campaigns need to run digital sophisticated, not just showing ads.

Jones said there was support from the governor and the legislature to move the New Jersey primary if the DNC was on board. Other states that want to enter the first window, including Michigan, may struggle to convince Republicans in the legislature to approve such a plan.

Some RBC members said that when the committee assesses nominations, it must consider the candidates’ ability to engage in retail politics rather than run their media campaigns.

“These early states have often provided opportunities for candidates who are not nationally known to come forward nationally and I think we want to think about keeping that here,” Kamarck said. “We don’t want to tilt the field to just people who already have a national name and already have millions and millions of dollars in the bank.”

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