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Democrats fight over 2024 nomination schedule as Biden weighs options

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New Hampshire’s Republican governor calls Nevada’s bid to become the nation’s first presidential primary state a joke. Nevada’s top Democratic agent warns of a big state like Michigan going to the front of the queue. And South Carolina kingmaker James E. Clyburn (D) signaled his support for the Iowa replacement.

But with Democrats meeting days away on December 1 to decide their presidential nomination order, it’s unclear exactly how the schedule will be sorted. The most important voice in Democratic politics, that of President Biden, has yet to weigh in, and many members of the rules and regulations committee responsible for deciding the outcome continue to await news from the White House.

It has left an increasingly unruly vacuum, with competing states shooting at each other in public and private, as they struggle to position themselves ahead of a decision that could ultimately reshape the petri dish from which presidents emerge. democrats. The fight, which is expected to be resolved at a three-day meeting in Washington, now revolves around three major issues, according to several people involved in the process, who stress that the outcome remains completely uncertain.

Will Nevada or New Hampshire be blessed with the first major spot? Michigan or Minnesota, fresh off huge Democratic election victories, will they be selected to replace the Midwest of Iowa’s underprivileged caucuses? And will a fifth state be added to the pre-Super Tuesday window?

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is almost certain Democrats are coming for his state’s first primary, and he says there’s no chance they’ll succeed. New Hampshire state law requires its secretary of state to set a primary date seven days ahead of any other, and Sununu says that’s what will happen no matter what Biden wants, potentially forcing the Democratic candidates to choose between ignoring the state and facing punishment from their party.

“Nevada wants to go first?” Can we all have a good laugh at this? They still count fucking votes,” Sununu said in an interview a week after the midterm elections. “It’s not something – ‘I get it because I want it’, like an irritable child. You have to win it with high turnout, transparency, results, quick access to winners and when you have to do a recount – we did four recounts yesterday – boom, done.

He warned that if Democrats block the state’s primary, New Hampshire voters would remember it in the general election, potentially jeopardizing the state’s four electoral votes, which Biden won in 2020.” I think the Democrats are doing themselves a horrible disservice by even trying to, you know, insinuate that we’re not doing it right.“, he said.

Rebecca Lambe, the former chief political strategist of the late Democratic Sen. Harry M. Reid of Nevada, countered that Democrats shouldn’t listen to Republican views as they seek to diversify the early primary process. She argued that Nevada should come first and cautioned against large, expensive states taking the lead.

“I don’t think the DNC should take advice from a Republican governor who wants to run for president against Joe Biden,” Lambe said, before returning his words to New Hampshire’s attempt to go first. “They have some of the worst and most restrictive election laws in the country. They don’t have early voting, no mail-in voting, and they’ve made it much harder for students to vote. »

Michigan and Minnesota, meanwhile, are locked in their own backroom battle over which Midwestern state is best positioned to replace Iowa, a move top Democratic advisers have signaled they want to make.

Democrats in both states won triple control of the governor and state legislatures in the midterm elections – even as Nevada lost its Democratic governor. This will allow Democratic state leaders to set dates for their states if the party chooses to move them – either setting separate dates for Democrats and Republicans, or forcing Republicans to violate their party’s master calendar, which which leaves Iowa’s 2016 order unchanged. , New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

“Both states clearly have a path to get there,” Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labour Party Chairman Ken Martin said. “We are going to have a lively discussion over the next two weeks.”

Michigan Democrats, who were seen by some committee members as a frontrunner for Midwestern Iowa’s replacement before the midterms, remain optimistic about their own prospects.

“Michigan is a purple state for Republicans and Democrats alike and we need states in this first window that reflect the diversity of our country and that will begin to build the infrastructure for our general elections,” Rep. Debbie said. Dingell (D-Mich.) .

Some South Carolina Democrats are concerned about Michigan – which received 125 pledged delegates in 2020, more than New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina combined – entering the first window, fearing that the large number of delegates will not forces candidates to spend most of their time campaigning there.

“We’ve always put in the pre-window schedule of smaller states and we’ve done that for good reason,” said South Carolina rules and regulations committee member Carol Fowler. “If Michigan had been in an early state, I’m not sure President Carter would ever have been president. I think Barack Obama benefited from having small states in the foreground. I think it’s so helpful for a good solid candidate who is not yet well funded.

Fowler said his animosity wasn’t aimed specifically at Michigan, but rather at broader concerns about any major state looking to move the order forward.

“I will give full consideration to every state that has applied, but I haven’t seen a reason to support a large state yet,” she said.

But Clyburn, the oldest Democrat in South Carolina and a close Biden ally, said he wouldn’t oppose Michigan’s bid to enter the pre-window as long as it doesn’t eclipse Carolina. South and other Southern states that vote on Super Tuesday.

“If it’s Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan, that’s almost ideal for me,” he said, while warning that New Hampshire law could hamper efforts to put it behind Nevada. He said it was also open in New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day, which Sununu ruled out.

Clyburn said he hasn’t discussed the timing with Biden, but when asked if he plans to, he replied, “I reserve a comment.”

Iowa, pushed into a defensive position, continues to demand a role in the start of the process. Scott Brennan, a member of the Iowa Rules and Bylaws Committee, said the timeline review process has so far been “inartistic and a bit surprising” given the success of Democratic presidential candidates winning the popular vote in every election since 2008. using the current system.

“At least as far as Iowa is concerned, there is no other candidate in the Midwest pool that meets what has always been the requirement, which is an accessible state for candidates who do not start the process with 1 billion dollars,” he said. “The other Midwestern candidates are too big, too heavy and way too expensive, and the committee members know it.”

Senior Democrats began meeting in public in March to discuss overhauling the nominations calendar, after top Biden advisers made clear their displeasure with the caucuses in Iowa, a largely white state that shunned Biden’s campaign and struggled to count results in 2020. Democrats said they were concerned about the amount of money and effort Democrats were spending in a state that had become less competitive in the election general.

Party officials passed guidelines for the calendar overhaul that would prioritize states that commit to holding primaries, demonstrate competitiveness in general elections and are demographically diverse.

The full DNC also passed rules this year that authorize the party chairman to “take appropriate action” against candidates and parties in states that do not meet the official primary schedule. That could include removing state delegates from the Democratic convention and barring candidates whose names appear on state ballots from accessing nominating debates or party data.

Whether these sanctions will come into play will largely depend on the timing. A White House spokesperson declined to comment for this article. But some comments, whether delivered publicly or privately, are expected to come from Biden’s inner circle soon.

“Everyone is still waiting for the smoke signal from the White House,” said a member of the rules and regulations committee, who, like others for this story, spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about the deliberations.

washingtonpost

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