Nov 28, 2022 - Politics

DNC panel to vote on Minnesota's early presidential primary state bid

States that applied and presented to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws committee
Data: Axios Research; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Minnesota will likely learn this week whether its voters jump to the front of the line for presidential primary voting.

Driving the news: The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws committee is set to vote on an overhaul of the nominating contest calendar ahead of the 2024 election.

  • Minnesota and Michigan are seen as two of the top contenders to replace Iowa in the Midwest.

Why it matters: Moving up the vote would give Minnesotans more sway in picking the presidential nominees and provide an infusion of cash, staff and high-profile candidate visits.

State of play: DFL Party chair Ken Martin told Axios it's a "50-50" toss-up between the two rivals in the upper Midwest.

  • "There's lots of folks in our camp and the same with Michigan," he said. "There are only three states in the country that flipped their Legislature into a trifecta [in 2022] and Minnesota and Michigan are two of the three."

The case for Minnesota: The state is known for nation-leading turnout and civic engagement. Top Democrats touted demographics, including a mix of rural and urban areas, high union membership and a large LGBTQ community, in a June pitch.

  • MSP's hub status and a relatively inexpensive media market could also be a draw, NBC News notes.

The case against: Save the closer-than-expected 2016 race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Minnesota has been a reliably blue state in presidential contests since the 1960s.

  • Some have argued the early status should instead go toward building momentum for Democrats in a battleground state.

Yes, and: Democratic leaders say diversity is a priority after years of New Hampshire and Iowa β€” two predominantly white states β€” voting first.

  • While diversity is growing, especially among younger people, Michigan has Minnesota beat on that front.

The intrigue: An existing state law requiring approval from both major party chairs to shift the presidential primary date was a potential barrier to Minnesota's bid. Minnesota Republican Party chair David Hann hasn't committed to a shift.

  • But the incoming DFL trifecta at the State Capitol means legislators and Gov. Tim Walz could change the date without the GOP's approval. A Walz spokesperson told Axios the governor would sign such a proposal.

Of note: It's unclear how the RNC's vote to stick with its 2020 schedule for early states would impact Minnesota's calendar if the state's DNC bid succeeds. Lawmakers could opt to move up the Democratic presidential primary and schedule the GOP's vote for a later date.

Flashback: The push to change the primary calendar picked up momentum after Iowa's 2020 caucuses devolved into disarray due to tech and communication issues.

  • Twenty states and territories applied for an early primary spot. Seventeen were invited to present their pitch to DNC officials over the summer.
  • The current early states β€” Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina β€” had to reapply under the process.

What to watch: President Biden has not yet weighed in on the early state jockeying, The Washington Post notes. A strong signal from the White House could tip the scales.

What's next: The DNC meeting starts Thursday. A vote is expected by Saturday, Martin says.


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