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Democrats make South Carolina the first presidential primary voting state


Feb 4, 2023

PHILADELPHIA — The Democratic National Committee on Saturday officially dethroned Iowa and New Hampshire from the status they have enjoyed for decades ahead of the presidential primary, upholding President Joe Biden’s recommendation for the 2024 calendar.

South Carolina will now kick things off for the Democrats, with Michigan, and possibly Georgia, joining the top states in the biggest presidential primary shakeup in years, while Nevada will come in second.

New Hampshire could go the same day as Nevada if its Republican lawmakers and governor change a state law. Georgia will also need the cooperation of Republican officials to take advantage of the new position now available to them.

People vote in the presidential primary election in Charleston, South Carolina on February 29, 2020.File Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Republicans are keeping the traditional roles of Iowa and New Hampshire for their 2024 presidential primaries, but Democrats have sought for years to promote more diverse states.

“This calendar does what it’s been long overdue to do,” said DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison. «It puts black voters at the forefront of the process in South Carolina. It keeps Nevada, where Latinos have been building power… And it adds Michigan, the heartland, where unions built this nation’s middle class. And Georgia, the Vanguard of the New South».

“The Democratic Party looks like America,” Harrison added, “and so does this proposal.”

The new schedule puts South Carolina first on February 3, 2024, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, then Georgia on February 13, and Michigan on February 27. After that, any state is free to schedule its primary elections. when they want

The party finally exerted the political will to shake up the status quo after Iowa botched its 2020 caucuses, delaying results for days, and as the state leaned more to the Republican column.

However, the schedule is not yet final as it is now up to states to change their main dates to comply. South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan have already codified their position, while the others have not.

Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire opposed the new calendar, warning that opening the calendar to change could create chaos by inviting other states to try to intervene and damage the electoral prospects of Democrats in their states.

Iowa Democratic Party Chair Rita Hart said Iowa’s recall will expose the party to charges that they «have turned their backs on Iowa and rural America.»

The thorniest issue, however, is New Hampshire, where state law requires the first primary to be held a week earlier than any other state in the country.

New Hampshire Democrats have called for more time to try to come up with a solution, but most Democrats say the writing is on the wall and hope there is no solution to the impasse.

Instead, it seems likely that New Hampshire will go ahead with a first unauthorized Democratic primary in the nation, even though that means the party will lose delegates to the Democratic National Convention next year and any candidate who puts their name on the ballot will face severe sanctions by the DNC, such as being excluded from the debate stages or losing access to the voter file.

“The DNC is willing to punish us even though we don’t have the ability to unilaterally change state law,” said Joanne Dowdell, a member of the New Hampshire DNC. “This will only hurt President Biden in our purple battleground state.”

Democrats may end up with someone like Marianne Williamson, the spiritual author who ran a long-shot presidential campaign in 2020, as the most prominent Democrat on the ballot in an unauthorized New Hampshire primary.

“If President Biden does not run for New Hampshire, it could provide an opportunity for an insurgent candidate to run and win the first primary of 2024, something no one in this room wants to see,” Dowdell added.

But in a party united behind Biden, there was little sympathy for his plight.

“No state should be assured of being first,” said Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell, a member of the newly promoted state’s DNC.

Those who spoke in favor of the new calendar received far more applause than their colleagues from Iowa or New Hampshire.

“All of you, for far too long, our party’s nominating schedule has not reflected what this country looks like,” said Georgia Rep. Nikema Williams, who is also the chair of the state Democratic Party. «After today, we can proudly say that he raised up voices that have been silenced for far too long.»