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President Biden has asked Democratic National Committee leaders to make South Carolina the nation’s first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, and to hold subsequent weekly primaries in Georgia and Michigan, according to Democrats briefed on the plans.

The tectonic decision to redo his party’s presidential nomination calendar for 2024 came as a shock to party officials and heads of state who had lobbied in recent weeks to earn a spot on the first calendar, which historically attracts millions of dollars in candidate spending and attention. . While many party members had long anticipated changes, the specific order Biden proposed had generated little to no chatter in Democratic circles. Much of the talk among Democrats hadn’t focused much on South Carolina going first or Georgia joining the early mix.

The proposal is likely to win the approval of Democratic officials, given the party leader’s backing. Breaking with decades of tradition, Biden’s move aims to signal his party’s commitment to elevating more variety — demographic, geographic and economic — in the early nominating process. Iowa, a majority-white state that historically held the nation’s first Democratic caucus and had embarrassing problems tabulating results in 2020, would have no early role in the Biden plan.

“We need to make sure voters of color have a say in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the first window,” Biden wrote in a letter to members of the rules committee and regulations which was handed over on Thursday evening, as expected by the members. meet for dinner. “As I said in February 2020, you can’t be the Democratic nominee and win a general election unless you have the overwhelming support of voters of color — and that includes Black, Brown, and Asian American and Islander voters. of the Pacific.”

The new timeline would cross states that played a central role in Biden’s victory in the nomination fight and the 2020 general election, suggesting he is serious about following up on his public statements about his intention to get re-elected. In Thursday’s letter, Biden told fellow Democrats he didn’t want to tie the party to the same timeline in 2028.

“The Rules and Regulations Committee should review the calendar every four years, to ensure it continues to reflect the values ​​and diversity of our party and our country,” he wrote.

The plan is expected to meet resistance from some of the states involved. New Hampshire Democrats said Thursday night they would not respect Biden’s wishes. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, also said he would follow state law and hold his state’s primary a week ahead of any other.

“The DNC did not give New Hampshire the nation’s first primary and it is not theirs to win,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said in a statement. “This news is obviously disappointing, but we will hold our first primary. We have survived past attempts over the decades and we will survive this.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) called the Biden recommendation “extremely disappointing.” Sen. Maggie Hassan (DN.H.) said in a statement that it was “profoundly wrong.”

Iowa Democrats also signaled resistance to the plan. “It’s just a recommendation,” said Scott Brennan, Iowa’s representative on the rules and regulations committee. “We will defend Iowa’s place in the process.”

Democrats will need Republican support in Georgia to move that state’s primary earlier in the schedule. In Nevada, a Republican governor will be sworn in next month, which could complicate efforts to move the date there. The Republican Party has already committed to the traditional order for 2024, allowing four states to come before all others: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

In rules passed this summer, Democrats gave their president the power to strip delegates, debate access and access to data for candidates campaigning in unauthorized states. The president also has the power to overthrow state delegations from the nominating convention if they defy party rules.

“It’s a principled decision. Basically, he felt it was an opportunity,” said a Biden adviser, who spoke on condition of anonymity to more openly describe the president’s decision to give the priority to states with more diverse electorates.”He did it with the Supreme Court. He did it with his cabinet and his administration. He just felt it was very important.”

The Michigan delegation welcomed the news as a success.

“This president knows that any road to the White House has to go through the heart of America,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), who had helped lead her state’s bid. “For me, it’s been a 30-year quest,” she said, referring to her work with the late Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to put the state on the first calendar.

South Carolina Democrats also welcomed the news.

“It looks like President Biden isn’t just transforming our country,” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson wrote in a text message. “It transforms the way we appoint presidents. It’s going to have a lasting impact on America.

The plan must be ratified by the Rules and Regulations Committee, which meets Friday and Saturday at a Washington hotel, and then approved by the full Democratic National Committee in February, Democratic officials said.

In recent weeks, Biden has personally spoken with officials in Nevada, New Hampshire and Michigan about his plans. He spoke with committee co-chairs James Roosevelt Jr. and Minyon Moore on Wednesday about his thinking, Democratic officials said.

Senior Democrats began meeting in public in March to discuss overhauling the nominations calendar, after senior officials close to Biden made clear their displeasure with the caucuses in Iowa, a state that has shunned Biden’s campaign and struggled to count results in 2020. Democrats said they were concerned about how much money and effort Democrats were spending in a state that had become less competitive in the general election and which does not reflect the diversity of the party and the country. The caucuses, held on weekday evenings, also ensure a more limited participation than a primary.

In recent cycles, Iowa has come first for Democrats, followed by New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. Iowa is required to hold the nation’s first nominating caucus under current state law. In his letter to the committee, Biden said he doesn’t think caucuses should be allowed in Democratic nominating efforts.

Iowa Democrats have not said whether they will go ahead with the nation’s first caucus with Republicans if they are thrown out of the nominating order by their party. They could also hold a nominating caucus, which they currently plan to conduct by mail, after the rest of the country joins the nominating process.

Earlier this year, 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. They also set a goal of including at least one state from New England, Southern, Midwestern and Western parts of the country. But they also acknowledged that Biden’s perspective would figure prominently in their final decision. Sixteen states and Puerto Rico ultimately made submissions to Democratic officials on why they should go early in the process.

Michigan Democrats say they will be able to move the date of the primaries, given their total control of the state government. Nevada Democrats are also optimistic about their ability to control their primary date, despite electing a new Republican governor who takes office next year. The decision marked a disappointment for Minnesota Democrats who had campaigned aggressively to be chosen over Michigan as Iowa’s replacement in the Midwest.

“I entered politics because of civil rights and the possibility of transforming our flawed union into something better,” Biden wrote to the committee on Thursday. “For fifty years, the first month of our presidential nomination process has been a valuable part of our democratic process, but it’s time to update the process for the 21st century.”

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