The fight to become the next first-in-the-nation slot on the Democratic presidential primary calendar is getting personal as state leaders begin jabbing each other in an effort to replace Iowa.
With the midterm cycle barely in the rearview mirror, some states are pointing to Democratic gains in their elections as evidence they should be bumped up in the calendar. Among these are Michigan and Minnesota, which are both vying to replace Iowa to represent the Midwestern region in the early-state lineup.
Ken Martin, chairman of Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, sent a two-page memo to the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday with a last-minute pitch not to select Michigan as the Midwestern state for the 2024 cycle. The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee is set to finalize its calendar proposal by Saturday, which will then be presented before the entire DNC in either January or February for a final vote.
Martin laid out a number of reasons why Michigan should not hold a slot in the early-vote lineup, arguing the state is “too large for inclusion” and risks overshadowing other early primary states. Specifically, he said Michigan’s number of delegates is too high, almost reaching the number of early-state delegates from New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina combined.
“With so many delegates being awarded to Michigan, it is easy to see future candidates skipping the rest of the early states altogether — to focus on a prize that delivers nearly as many delegates as all other early states combined,” Martin wrote in a two-page letter to the DNC obtained by Politico. “This result would negate the expressed purpose [sic] of our early state strategy.”
Additionally, Minnesota is far more diverse than Michigan, the party chairman said, making it more representative of the country’s vote.
Michigan has tried to lean on its racial and economic diversity to convince party leaders to grant it an early-voting slot, as well as its reputation as a swing state. However, Martin argued that while Michigan has a larger black population, Minnesota “leads Michigan and Iowa in every other racial and ethnic category.”
Every four years, the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee formulates the rule that sets the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating calendar, specifying which state’s primary or caucus is granted “early” status and in which order these early states vote. The previous primary calendar began with Iowa’s caucus one week before New Hampshire’s primary, followed by Nevada and South Carolina.
However, Democrats decided to scrap that calendar earlier this year, opening the process for all states to apply to be early contenders. That decision had been on the Democrats’ minds for years, but the conversation received renewed attention after the 2020 caucuses in Iowa were crippled by technological troubles, delaying the vote count for several days.
The Republican National Committee already voted to reaffirm its presidential primary calendar earlier this year, keeping its current lineup of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.