Feb 9, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden's 2024 headaches

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Chicago Democrats are pushing President Biden to choose their city for the 2024 Democratic National Convention, warning that hosting the event in a right-to-work state like Georgia would be a major insult to the labor movement.

Why it matters: President Biden's call for a “blue-collar blueprint to rebuild America” at the State of the Union acknowledged a persistent challenge for Democrats — keeping white, working-class voters in their column.

  • Atlanta, Chicago and New York are the leading cities being considered to host.
  • Unlike the other two, Atlanta is in a right-to-work state. Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia have said such initiatives should be banned nationwide.

Be smart: The last time labor felt rebuffed by a Democratic president's convention site selection, it boycotted and redirected money and time to a different event.

  • "It was a slap in the face" when Democrats selected right-to-work state North Carolina in 2012, said Lonnie Stephenson, former president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
  • "Normally, we give financial support and we didn't that year," he added.
  • Democrats then hosted their 2020 convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at the IBEW's urging.

Driving the news: When Biden visited Wisconsin on Wednesday to rally workers at a training facility center run by the Laborers’ International Union of North America, he was greeted by a full-page ad urging him to "CHOOSE CHICAGO" for 2024.

  • Separately, a group of eight union leaders has been pushing Biden to choose New York City — "the heart of America's labor movement," it wrote in a letter.
  • New York, the labor leaders argued, gives Biden's re-election campaign a chance to "stand proud of progress made while showing working-class voters that you will continue to fight for their interests.”

Zoom out: At the start of this week, Democrats in New Hampshire blasted what they called a “politically convenient” choice to make South Carolina the first-in-the-nation primary state — upending decades of tradition to reward racial and geographic diversity earlier in the calendar.

  • The DNC has approved Biden's preferred primary order: South Carolina on Feb. 3, New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27.

What to watch: If Atlanta hosts the convention over Chicago, Biden's tension with labor unions and working-class voters will be exposed just two months before the general.

  • The DNC vote was "not the last word" on 2024, New Hampshire Democrats said, insisting that they won't change state law to comply with the new calendar — even if they're punished.

The backdrop: The DNC has given New Hampshire and Georgia until June to comply with the new calendar dates, but Democrats will punish New Hampshire if they jump ahead, likely by revoking delegates at the national party convention.

  • Republicans in Georgia oversee these changes and they've maintained they're not interested in helping Democrats.
  • New Hampshire's state Constitution dictates that it host the first presidential primary one week before any other state, and Democrats say they can't unilaterally change that.
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