Georgia is pushing back against the Democratic National Committee’s proposal to reshuffle the order of presidential primaries in 2024, as other states also grumble over the changes.
Last week, at the command of President Joe Biden, the DNC’s rules committee decreed that South Carolina would be the nation’s first Democratic presidential battleground.
Nevada and New Hampshire would vote the next week, with Georgia and Michigan coming next.
Iowa’s caucuses have been the first primary contest since 1972, but the state’s racial makeup isn’t as diverse as the DNC would like — it’s 90 percent white — and it fumbled with vote counting in the 2020 Democratic contest, leading to calls for a change. In addition, Biden finished in fourth place in the 2020 Iowa caucuses.
New Hampshire has been the first primary since 1920. A 2008 calendar change moved Nevada and South Carolina next.
The DNC’s plan is colliding with a Georgia law that gives its secretary of state the power to unilaterally set election dates for presidential primaries, and state officials are not eager to do as they are told, according to Axios.
“Our legal team has continuously stated that both parties’ primaries must be on the same day and must not cost anyone any delegates,” Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said in a statement to the outlet.
“Without a push from the Republican side, the path to moving up Georgia’s presidential preference primary appears very slim,” Fuchs said.
Scott Brennan, Iowa’s DNC representative, said it should not be a surprise that Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, will not cater to the DNC, according to the Des Moines Register.
The Republican National Committee has already set its 2024 election calendar and bans any state except Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina from voting before March 1.
“Why would you want to have attention lavished on Georgia Democrats if Georgia Republicans can’t move into the pre-window?” Brennan said.
“So if I’m [Raffensperger], I certainly wouldn’t let it happen,” Brennan said. “The reason people want to have these early contests is because they’re excellent organizing tools, in my mind. And it brings resources and attention. So to let the Democrats go and the GOP not go is crazy.”
Democrats indicate they are willing to push for the change.
“This is a bold window that reflects the values of our party, and it is a window worth fighting for,” Minyon Moore of Georgia said at the DNC rules committee meeting where the changes were approved.
Biden called for the changes as a gesture to minority voters. His Super Tuesday victory in the 2020 South Carolina primary helped to propel him to the Democratic nomination.
“We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window,” he wrote in the letter to the DNC rules panel. “As I said in February 2020, you cannot be the Democratic nominee and win a general election unless you have overwhelming support from voters of color — and that includes Black, Brown and Asian American & Pacific Islander voters.”
“For decades,” the president said in the letter, “Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process. We rely on these voters in elections but have not recognized their importance in our nominating calendar. It is time to stop taking these voters for granted, and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process.”
“Democrats cannot forget about entire groups of voters in the heart of the Midwest without doing significant damage to the party in newer generations,” he said.
“As someone who has lived through a similar version of this process, I would be remiss if I did not say we are creating a situation of continued uncertainty that will continue to drag on throughout 2023,” he said, according to the Des Moines Register. “We can vote on this calendar. We can approve this calendar. But we will leave here with nothing settled.”
Jim Roosevelt, a co-chairman of the national committee, has not been sympathetic.
“If they go earlier, they’re running some kind of beauty contest that does not impact the delegate process at all,” he said.
New Hampshire has a state law in place saying its primary must come first, and so far seems willing to fight to keep it that way.
“We will always hold the first-in-the-nation primary, and this status is independent of the president’s proposal or any political organization,” Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire said in a statement.
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