Both Republicans and Democrats are criticizing the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after it voted Saturday to make drastic changes to its presidential nominating calendar for the 2024 election cycle.
The vote by the DNC’s nearly 500 voting members who had gathered for the party’s winter meeting was the final approval needed for President Biden‘s proposal to move South Carolina to the lead position in the Democrats’ primary calendar. Under Biden’s plan, South Carolina would hold its primary on Feb. 3, 2024, with New Hampshire and Nevada holding theirs three days later, followed by Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan two weeks later.
The move by the committee’s voting members, which faced bipartisan scrutiny from lawmakers before the vote was held, bumped Iowa and New Hampshire from their longtime leadoff positions and gave additional representation at the top of the schedule to Black and Hispanic voters.
Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement that the DNC has decided to “cause chaos” by making the calendar change.
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“The RNC unanimously passed its rules over a year ago and solidified the traditional nominating process the American people know and understand,” McDaniel said. “The DNC has decided to break a half-century precedent and cause chaos by altering their primary process, and ultimately abandoning millions of Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire.”
“Our First in the Nation Primary makes our entire country & democracy stronger,” Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan wrote in response to the news in a tweet. “Regardless of the DNC vote, New Hampshire will go first.”
“The DNC’s primary proposal asks us to violate our state law & puts Democrats’ future success in our state at risk — it is deeply misguided,” added Hassan, who was recently re-elected to another six-year term in the upper chamber.
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Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley also offered a response to move, saying the DNC “pulled the rug out” from Iowa Democrats by forcing the party to hold caucuses on a different day than the GOP in the state.
“[The] DNC officially pulled rug out [from] Iowa Democrats by revoking first in the nation status,” Grassley said on social media. “The Iowa caucuses were a decades long tradition of BIPARTISANSHIP. It’s sad Dems don’t value the voice of rural America … Fortunately Republicans will continue [to] carry [first] in the nation mantle.”
Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley, on the eve of the vote, called the move by the DNC “mind-boggling” and a “self-inflicted wound” that would hurt the chances of Democratic candidates in 2024 in the key northeastern general election battleground state.
“We remain extremely concerned about the effects this calendar will have on our purple, crucial battleground state,” Buckley said in a statement following the vote, warning that New Hampshire is a crucial battleground state in 2024. “We were proud to deliver our four Electoral College votes to President Biden in 2020. Next year, those four votes can be the difference between sending President Biden back to the White House or ceding it to Republicans,” he said.
He promised to prioritize Biden’s re-election and retaking the New Hampshire governorship in 2024 but said that those “priorities . . . will be made infinitely harder by the DNC’s likely sanctions.”
In contrast to those who were upset with the news, Michigan Democrats, including state party chair Lavora Barnes and Rep. Debbie Dingell, expressed enthusiasm over the change.
“Senator Carl Levin is smiling down on us today. This is the culmination of a journey he began over 30 years ago, and a torch that I have been proud to carry on because I have always believed that Michigan picks presidents and that all roads to the White House go through the heartland,” Dingell said in a statement. “This primary calendar, which the DNC approved today, will establish a presidential nominating process that reflects the diversity of our country and ensures that we as Democrats showcase the issues that matter most in determining who wins in November.”
Similarly, Barnes concluded that the calendar change marks a “good day for Michigan and our entire nation.”
“Throughout this process, we made the case that our state is a place that picks presidents,” Barnes said. “With the DNC’s stamp of approval, our presidential nominating process will now reflect the diversity of our country and Michiganders’ voices will be heard. It has been a privilege to play a role, alongside Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, our other Congressional Leaders, the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Michigan legislature who were all united behind Sen. Carl Levin’s dream of moving up Michigan. That dream is now set to become a reality.”
A New Hampshire DNC committee member has warned that the changes could hurt the party, and the president, as Republicans in the state have been “weaponizing” the proposed calander to go after Democratic politicians.
“We are frustrated, because as many times as we say it, no one seems to listen when we say that this will only hurt President Biden in our purple battleground state,” said Joanne Dowdell, a New Hampshire committee member on the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws panel.
The decision by the committee marks a dramatic switch from the current calendar, which has seen the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary lead off the process for five decades. But many Democrats for years have knocked both states as unrepresentative of the party as a whole, for being largely White with few major urban areas. Nevada and South Carolina, which in recent cycles have voted third and fourth in the calendar, are much more diverse than either Iowa or New Hampshire.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and state Republicans, have repeatedly slammed Biden and the DNC. Sununu has reiterated that “we’re going first, no matter what.”
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The president and supporters of the plan argue that it would empower minority voters, whom Democrats have long relied on but have at times taken for granted.
“This committee put together a calendar proposal that reflects our values and will strengthen our party. This calendar does what is long overdue. It expands the number of voices in the early window. And it elevates diverse communities that are at core of the Democratic Party,” DNC chair Jaime Harrison said.
The new calendar “puts Black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina. It keeps Nevada, where Latinos have been building power by lifting their voices,” Harrison said on Saturday.
“Folks, the Democratic Party looks like America. And so does this proposal,” he added.
Fox News Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.