Iowa, New Hampshire Democratic presidential contests remain in flux after DNC panel meets

By JENNIFER SHUTT

States Newsroom

Published: 06-19-2023 10:36 AM

New Hampshire Democrats will have at least 90 more days to change when and how the state plans to hold its 2024 Democratic presidential primary after the national party approved an extension in a committee meeting Friday.

Iowa, which proposed both a mail-in and an in-person caucus process, was found not compliant. But the state will be able to work with DNC staff on issues and come back to the committee later for approval, though an earlier decision to strip Iowa of its first-in-the-nation status stands.

Georgia Democrats didn’t receive more time to meet requirements for an early primary after its secretary of state set a presidential primary date that doesn’t align with Democrats’ plans.

Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Co-Chair Minyon Moore said while there’s some disagreement between the national party and New Hampshire Democrats on when the state should hold its Democratic primary election, President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election, wants them to be one of the first states to vote.

In Georgia, she said, the panel’s efforts to make the state one of the first in the country to vote for a Democratic nominee for president, haven’t played out as hoped.

“After we passed our historic proposal to add Georgia to the early window, Democrats in Georgia – with considerable support from the DNC – launched a multi-front campaign that lasted over six months,” Moore said at the meeting in Minneapolis.

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The Georgia secretary of state, she said, “expressed the willingness to move their primary to our desired date if both parties could agree to it.”

But Republicans in the Peach State didn’t agree and the secretary of state set the presidential primary election date for mid-March, she said.

Because of that decision, Moore said, the Rules and Bylaws Committee didn’t need to extend the waiver that would have given Georgia more time to meet the panel’s requirements for an early Democratic presidential primary election. The early window is typically in February, with states allowed to hold their primaries when they wish starting in March.

“Regardless, I think the foundation has been laid for 2028, and it is a discussion we need to continue,” Moore said.

Georgia’s delegate selection plan for 2024 wasn’t on the Rules and Bylaws Committee’s agenda for Friday, so the panel will take that up later this year.

Primary lineup

The Rules and Bylaws Committee approved changing the structure of early Democratic presidential primary states in December, when members approved starting off voting in South Carolina, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire, then Georgia, and finally Michigan.

The Democratic presidential nominating process previously started with the Iowa caucuses followed by New Hampshire, then Nevada before South Carolina.

South Carolina, Nevada, and Michigan have met the requirements laid out, though New Hampshire and Georgia had not as of the Friday meeting.

New Hampshire Democrats are furious with the change and maintain that Republicans, who control the state government, are not willing to implement the changes the DNC has called for.

DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said at the beginning of Friday’s meeting that he understood the change is difficult for some, but encouraged the panel to press ahead.

“This party has to continue to evolve like this country continues to evolve,” he said.

Delegate selection plans

Rules and Bylaws Co-Chair James Roosevelt, Jr., said that the process for approving each state’s delegate selection plans for the 2024 Democratic presidential primary could take a while.

In the past, he said, the panel did its best to finalize all the plans before the end of the year before the election, though they often end up working on some of the plans in the new year.

Rules and Bylaws member Scott Brennan of Iowa read a letter from Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart, who wrote the changes would “transform our caucuses into the most inclusive process in Iowa history.”

“For the first time a police officer or firefighter working in a third shift, a single parent who may not have access to childcare, or those in the disability community who may be unable to leave their homes will be able to participate in the Iowa Democratic caucuses and make their voices heard in the presidential selection process,” she wrote.

The in-person caucus, Hart wrote, would be “on the same date as the Iowa Republicans and eight days prior to any other state’s presidential nominating contest.”

During those meetings, she wrote, the attendees would “elect unbound delegates to county conventions, elect precinct committee persons to county conventions and discuss platform resolutions.”

The mail-in ballots could be sent through the mail or filled out online, under the proposal.

Hart also acknowledged the state Democratic Party needs to add more details to its plan before it could receive approval.

“We know there are still some missing pieces in this draft delegate selection plan that is designed to provide enough flexibility for the Iowa Democratic Party to respond to the continued uncertainty surrounding the presidential nominating calendar,” Hart said. “We look forward to providing more details to the committee once the calendar challenges are resolved.”

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