UPDATES approved by the committee
Democrats on Friday voted to change their calendar for the 2024 presidential primary to give African Americans more leverage in choosing the party’s nominee for the White House.
The surprise move came a day after President Joe Biden, who said he plans another White House run in 2024, proposed changes to the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination calendar.
Traditionally, the eyes of the world turn to rural, mostly white Iowa and tiny New Hampshire every four years to mark the start of the months-long presidential selection process.
Biden proposed Thursday in a letter to the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that the first Democratic primary of 2024 be held in South Carolina, which has a large black population.
The committee approved the move in a vote Friday, with only Iowa and New Hampshire members opposing the change. The new calendar will be put to the full DNC vote in February 2023.
Biden’s victory in South Carolina’s 2020 Democratic presidential primary helped revitalize his waning candidacy and propelled the former vice president to the nomination and eventual White House.
In his letter, Biden said, “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 and Pacific Islanders.”
“For decades, black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but were pushed back in the early primary process,” he said.
“It’s time to stop taking these voters for granted and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in doing so.”
The new main calendar has the first competition taking place on February 3 in South Carolina, followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on February 6, Georgia on February 13 and Michigan on February 27.
Biden’s proposed changes were coldly received by Democratic leaders in Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Small rural states like Iowa need to have a voice in our presidential nomination process,” said Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ross Wilburn.
“Democrats cannot forget entire constituencies in the heart of the Midwest without causing significant damage to the party for a generation.”
In New Hampshire, Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley insisted the northeastern state “will hold our primary first.”
“We have survived past trials over the decades and we will survive this,” Buckley said.
“Our nation’s first elementary school has been an integral part of our state’s history and enshrined in state law for over 100 years.”
A revised main calendar could help Biden if he does decide to run again in 2024 and is challenged for the Democratic nomination.
Giving African-American voters greater early primary influence could also give black Vice President Kamala Harris a potential boost if Biden steps aside and she runs for the White House.
The Republican Party still plans to hold its first nominating contest in Iowa in 2024.