Biden’s push for South Carolina as first primary state ignites intraparty war

Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden
From left, Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., former Vice President Joe Biden, participate in a Democratic presidential primary debate, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke) (Matt Rourke/AP)

Biden’s push for South Carolina as first primary state ignites intraparty war

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President Joe Biden’s request to elevate South Carolina as the first-in-the-nation primary during the 2024 cycle has opened old wounds for some top Democrats, revealing cracks among the party as they bicker over the proposed nominating calendar.

Democrats voted last week to boot Iowa from its long-held and widely coveted spot as the first state on the party’s presidential primary calendar, replacing it with South Carolina and removing the Hawkeye State from the early lineup altogether. The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee granted South Carolina the No. 1 slot after a request from Biden, who painted the move as a way to prioritize diversity.

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The move is reigniting old tensions among some Democrats who view the move as a power grab by Biden, whose presidential victory was secured by South Carolina in 2020.

South Carolina was added to the early voting lineup 16 years ago in order to bring more demographic diversity into the mix. The Palmetto State has typically gone third but is slated to become first following Biden’s request to the DNC.

Having South Carolina as the first primary state lends Biden an advantage if he chooses to run again in 2024. The Southern state helped secure his win during the 2020 election and would likely nominate the president with big numbers over any Democratic challengers next cycle.

“It’s purely a nod to Biden, and they rejected Bernie,” Democratic strategist Michael Starr Hopkins told the Hill. “Biden clearly set the table [to] protect himself for a second run for president.”

But South Carolina is also home to a large black population, which is considered to be a crucial voting bloc for Democrats. As a result, Democrats who support elevating South Carolina to the top of the calendar have accused opponents of suppressing black voices.

“Zero tolerance — ZERO for any disrespect or dismissal of Black voters,” DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison wrote in a tweet. “These voters are always pragmatic & clear-eyed. Their knees have never buckled. Their spines have been stiffened in the perpetual fight for freedom and equality for ALL of US!”

Those accusations resulted in a back-and-forth online, with other Democratic lawmakers calling the comments “insulting.”

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“It’s a very insulting approach to suggest that somehow we don’t care about Black voters because we think South Carolina shouldn’t go first,” Faiz Shakir, former Bernie Sanders campaign manager, told Politico. “Come on. Get real.”

The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee finalized the presidential primary calendar last week, sending it to the full committee for final approval. The committee will vote on the nominating calendar sometime early next year, but the lineup is expected to be final.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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