Democrats could strip Iowa of opening spot in 2024 campaign

2022-08-06T07:00:00.0000000Z

2022-08-06T07:00:00.0000000Z

WEHCO Media

https://newstribune.pressreader.com/article/281775632925305

NATIONAL

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Democrats are poised to strip Iowa of its traditional lead-off spot in the presidential nominating calendar in 2024, part of a broader effort to better reflect the party’s deeply diverse electorate by allowing less overwhelmingly white states to vote first. The Democratic National Committee’s rule-making arm had planned to recommend Friday which states should be the first four to vote, while considering adding a fifth before Super Tuesday, when a large number of states hold primary elections. But it delayed the decision until after November’s election, lest it become a distraction affecting Democrats in key congressional races. Still, the position of Iowa’s caucus remains precarious after technical glitches sparked a 2020 meltdown. More than a decade of complaints that caucus rules requiring in-person attendance serve to limit participation are reaching crescendo. That’s ignited a furious push for the No. 1 position between New Hampshire, which now goes second but traditionally kicks off primary voting, and Nevada, a heavily Hispanic state looking to jump from third to first. “I fully expect that Iowa will be replaced,” said Julián Castro, a former San Antonio mayor and federal housing chief. “And that the primary calendar will be reordered to better reflect the diversity of the Democratic Party and of the country.” Castro isn’t on the rules committee but has criticized Iowa being first since his 2019 presidential run. A Democratic National Committee spokesperson said the rules committee “is conducting a thorough process” and will continue to “let it play out.” Iowa has survived previous challenges and may do so again, especially given that the final decision won’t come for months. It argues that, aside from 2020, voters here have a strong track record launching the nomination process — and its caucuses keep Democrats relevant amid the state’s recent shift to the right. Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn said he’d fight to ensure that nearly 50 years of tradition hold. “When I became chair and we started this process, the word was ‘Iowa’s done,’” Wilburn told reporters Thursday. “But no decision has been made. No calendar has been presented to the committee. We are still in this fight.” But many rules committee members privately said that the party is leaning toward either New Hampshire or Nevada going first, or perhaps on the same day. They all requested anonymity to more freely detail discussions that remain ongoing. South Carolina, with its large bloc of Black Democrats, may move from fourth to third, freeing up a large Midwestern state to go next. Michigan and Minnesota are making strong cases, but both can’t move their primary dates without legislative approval, requiring support from Republicans. If the committee adds a fifth early slot, that could go to Iowa to soften the blow. Iowa has kicked off voting since 1976, when Jimmy Carter scored a caucus upset and grabbed enough momentum to eventually win the presidency. Since then, it’s been followed by New Hampshire, which has held the nation’s first primary since 1920. Nevada and South Carolina have gone next since the 2008 presidential election, when Democrats last did a major primary calendar overhaul. Nevada has now scrapped its caucus in favor of a primary. During a recent presentation before rules committee members, its delegation showed a video arguing “tradition is not a good enough reason to preserve the status quo.” “If a diverse and inclusive state isn’t at the front of the primary calendar, I’m really concerned that what we’re gonna keep seeing is the same criticisms that we’ve been seeing about the Democratic Party primary process,” Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen said. Representatives from Iowa and New Hampshire argue small states let all candidates — not just well-funded ones — connect personally with voters, and that losing their slots could advantage Republicans in congressional races. The GOP has already decided to keep Iowa starting its 2024 presidential nominating cycle. “Just like when two more states were added to the early window, Nevada and South Carolina,” there is a sense that, just like America isn’t stagnant, “that the Democratic Party changes and grows with the times as well,” said rules committee member Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. New Hampshire Democratic National Committeeman Bill Shaheen said he didn’t know what would’ve happened if the rules committee vote wasn’t postponed, but cheered it as “one more chance to show what kind of state we are.”

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