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Connecticut left out of Democrats’ 2024 early presidential primary lineup

ROCHESTER, NH - February 10, Senator Elizabeth Warren held a town hall meeting at the Rochester Opera House in Rochester, NH on February 10, 2020 in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Joe Amon/Connecticut Public)
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren held a town hall meeting at the Rochester Opera House on Feb. 10, 2020, in Rochester, New Hampshire, ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary.

Connecticut was left out of the mix to become an early primary state for Democrats in the 2024 presidential election as President Joe Biden and others in the party gravitated toward elevating South Carolina and granting early status to two states in the South and Midwest.

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee convened in Washington, D.C., on Friday to start the high-profile consideration of how to reshuffle the presidential primary calendar, which was poised to get a vote on Saturday. The issue will go to another vote at a later date by the full DNC.

Early reports indicated that Connecticut was no longer in contention, which was confirmed by the time the meeting began on Friday morning.

Minyon Moore, a co-chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, read Biden’s letter about the primary lineup that “early states must reflect the overall diversity of our party and our nation – economically, geographically, demographically.”

Moore also read the proposed new calendar of the first five primary states for 2024 that kicks out Iowa – which previously held its caucuses first – and adds Georgia and Michigan. The proposal recommends holding South Carolina’s primary on Feb. 6, both New Hampshire and Nevada primaries on Feb. 13, Georgia’s on Feb. 20 and Michigan’s on Feb. 27.

“We feel strongly that this window that reflects our values, paints a vibrant picture of our nation and creates a strong process that will result in the best Democratic nominee,” Minyon said, adding that there needs to be “a system that works and provides stability for future presidential campaigns.”

“The logistics of this window will be something we need to navigate as a committee, but I agree with the president that this is a bold window that reflects the values of our party,” she added.

While the changes are not final, most members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee appeared supportive of Biden and the recommendations – even some from states, like Connecticut, that vied for an earlier primary date but did not make the cut.

But committee members from New Hampshire – which was Connecticut’s biggest competition – and Iowa expressed frustration. A member from Iowa said he would not support the proposal, while another from New Hampshire indicated that the state will still go first regardless of the decision. New Hampshire law stipulates that the state hold the first-in-the-nation primary.

States, however, will likely be able to apply for waivers to allow them to move up their primaries before Super Tuesday – the first Tuesday in March when the largest number of states hold their nominating contests.

The decision to potentially reshuffle Democrats’ primary calendar stemmed from criticisms that some of the early states did not reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the party’s voters in addition to the chaos that ensued during Iowa’s caucuses in 2020.

Connecticut was one of 16 states and one territory that competed for an earlier slot in the primary calendar. State officials and lawmakers delivered a presentation in June, arguing that Connecticut’s compact size and a demographic makeup more closely resembling the U.S. provided an advantage for Democrats as they select their next presidential nominee in 2024.

Nancy DiNardo, chairwoman of the Connecticut Democratic Party, argued early-state status would generate more excitement among voters and would also be an economic boon since presidential candidates, voters and reporters would be traveling and staying in the state. DiNardo delivered the presentation before the committee over the summer along with Secretary of the State candidate Stephanie Thomas and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District.

DiNardo issued a statement Friday expressing disappointment about the expected outcome.

“We’re disappointed that Connecticut is not among those recommended by President Biden for an early primary. As we said in our application, we believe our state offers great opportunities for candidates to campaign in easily accessible, diverse communities and would have given Connecticut a far greater voice in the choice of a Presidential candidate,” DiNardo said. “We also understand that in any process like this one, some states will be chosen, and others will not. We’ll respect the DNC’s final decision, while holding out hope for a different outcome than has been reported.”

During Connecticut’s presentation, officials argued that the state has racial representation as well as its geographic diversity with cities, suburbs and rural areas. They also touted advertising and fundraising as other advantages since the state has an affordable media market and is close to New York City and other major metropolitan areas.

“Connecticut is a small state geographically, but we are truly a microcosm of the country,” Thomas said during the presentation. “One of our biggest assets is having all of that diversity within a two- to three-hour drive, making it a win-win for the electorate and candidates alike.”

But Connecticut faced tough regional competition from New Hampshire since the party wants to ensure there’s a balance of regional representation. Plus, as a Democratic stronghold in presidential races, Connecticut is not a swing state in general elections in the same way as New Hampshire.

Lisa Hagen is CT Public and CT Mirror’s shared Federal Policy Reporter. Based in Washington, D.C., she focuses on the impact of federal policy in Connecticut and covers the state’s congressional delegation. Lisa previously covered national politics and campaigns for U.S. News & World Report, The Hill and National Journal’s Hotline.

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