WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden Democrats on Thursday said they should abandon “controlled” caucuses and make diversity a priority at the start of their presidential primary calendar.
In a letter to the Democratic National Committee’s rulemaking division, Biden did not specify which states he would like to visit first. But he has told Democrats he wants to move South Carolina to first, according to three people familiar with his nomination who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
The president’s directive comes as the DNC Rules Committee meets Friday in Washington to vote on shaking up the presidential primary calendar beginning in 2024. Members now expect South Carolina to ratify the new rules first, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day a week later.
Georgia and Michigan will move into the top five as new primary states, and each will hold primaries in successive weeks, panelists say. Both battlegrounds are critical to Biden’s 2020 victory over then-President Donald Trump, who won both states in his 2016 White House campaign.
Most of the rest of the country will soon vote for Super Tuesday.
The changes come after calls by several top Democrats for a voting calendar that better reflects the party’s deeply diverse base than in mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire, which has its first primary in the nation, and the state’s first caucus. The new calendar still needs to be approved by the full DNC in a vote that could come early next year, but the DNC is sure to heed the rulemaking committee’s recommendations.
The proposed order of early states was first reported by The Washington Post.
“For decades, black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party, but have been left behind in the early primary process,” Biden wrote in a letter on personal stationery that did not bear the White House seal. “We count on these voters at the polls but don’t recognize their importance in our nomination calendar. It’s time to stop taking these voters for granted and give them a loud voice in the process.”
He said the caucuses were “restrictive and anti-labor” because voters had to “spend a significant amount of time” choosing candidates in person on a night, “disadvantaging hourly workers and anyone who doesn’t have the flexibility to go to a set. location at a specific time.”
The changes could be implemented in 2024, but would become meaningless until 2028 if Biden seeks a second term.. The president has said for months that he wants to run again, and White House aides and Biden allies have begun personnel and structural discussions for his 2024 bid, while the president has avoided overt steps as he weighs a final decision.
Such a shakeup would be seismic, as Iowa’s caucuses have led from the Democratic voting calendar since 1976. However, a series of technical glitches that marred the party’s results would come two years later. They blocked The Associated Press from announcing the winner of the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus.
On the current Democratic calendar, New Hampshire, following Iowa, is holding the nation’s first primary since 1920. Nevada and South Carolina are next in line since the 2008 presidential election, the last time Democrats overhauled the calendar in a major primary.
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has already decided to put Iowa’s caucuses as the first race on its 2024 presidential calendar, ensuring that GOP White House hopefuls — including Trump — will campaign there more often.
South Carolina has special relevance for Biden. His success He began his presidential campaign after poor results in Iowa and New Hampshire en route to winning the Democratic nomination in the state’s first-southern primary in 2020.
Longtime Biden ally, fundraiser and former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Dick Harboudlian said Thursday that he and Biden discussed South Carolina’s potential advance on the night of Biden’s 2020 primary victory. Harboudlian said he was very impressed with Biden, saying the state was a better place to hold an early presidential primary than Iowa — something Harboudlian said Biden would accept.
“I think he agreed that it was a very dynamic process,” Harboudlian said. “Iowa was a dream.”
The DNC rules committee has been debating reordering the primary calendar for months, sparking a bitter battle between several states. In a joint statement Thursday night, Michigan Democratic Party Chairwoman Lavora Barnes and US Rep. Debbie Dingell, “We’ve always said that any road to the White House goes through the heartland, and President Biden understands that.”
But Biden’s choice sparked anger in New Hampshire, where state law calls for holding the nation’s first primary and for months officials have threatened to hold their elections regardless of what new rules the DNC approves. Other states have previously tried to defy party rules and move closer to the front, threatening their delegates without considering the party’s nominee to take over.
New Hampshire Democratic Senate. Gene Shaheen issued a statement calling for a “short-sighted decision by the White House,” while fellow New Hampshire Democrat Sen. Maggie Hassan said, “I strongly oppose the president’s deeply flawed plan.
“But make no mistake,” Hasan said in a statement. “New Hampshire’s law is clear and our priority will continue to be the first in the nation.”
Kinnard reported from Columbia, SC Associated Press writer Steve Peoples in New York contributed to this report.