DemDaily: Download on the DNC Fall Meeting

October 10, 2023

An energized Democratic National Committee (DNC) met in St. Louis, Missouri last week in its last meeting before the Democratic nominating convention next August in Chicago, Illinois.

The Fall DNC meeting of roughly 1,000 national committee members, state party leaders, donors, press and guests at the Marriott St. Louis Grand was headlined by Vice President Kamala Harris, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, among others.

See DemDaily: Your Guide to the Democratic National Committee 10/3/23

Four days of state party, caucus and council meetings culminated in Saturday's general session, where delegates from each state, DC and the territories met to vote on official party business.

Chief among those were the recommendations by the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) regarding the status of the revamped 2024 presidential primary calendar, which was adopted earlier this year.

Under DNC rules, no state can hold a presidential primary or caucus before the first Tuesday in March. Those previously exempted were Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which were granted "waivers" and allowed to hold their contests in early primaries as representative states of each region of the country.

Under the new review process, which gives preference to battleground states, electoral diversity and union representation, that order was reshuffled -- kicking Iowa to March 5 and upending its coveted "first in the nation" caucus status, mandated by state law and held for five decades.

The proposed Democratic presidential primary calendar for 2024, as adopted at the February Winter DNC meeting in Philadelphia, begins in South Carolina on February 3, and was to be followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, Georgia on February 13 and then Michigan on February 27.

Any state party defying the sanctioned new order risks penalties from the DNC, such as limiting the state's number of delegates to the national convention.

While South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan have met party requirements to join the new early lineup, Georgia, Iowa and New Hampshire, which are under state Republican control, have faced legal obstacles to moving their primary dates.

In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State and chief election official Brad Raffensperger balked at changing the state's Democratic presidential primary in 2024, mandating it be held the same day as the GOP -- March 14.

Iowa Democrats managed to appease both state law and the DNC with a proposal to hold their in-person state caucus on January 15, (the same day as the Republican caucus) strictly to conduct party business, but vote for president separately by mail. Ballots would be sent out January 12, but results would not be released until March 5, known as "Super Tuesday," when thirteen other states hold their Democratic primary. Iowa's plan was conditionally approved by the RBC in St. Louis.

Presidential primary elections are run by state and local governments, while caucuses are private, in-person events that are run directly by the political parties themselves. All states run primaries with the exception of Iowa, Wyoming and three territories that hold some form of caucus.

Similar to Iowa, New Hampshire's state constitution mandates that they hold the country's first primary and state Republican leaders, including Secretary of State David Scanlan, have made it clear that the 103-year old tradition is not going to change.

The RBC on Friday gave Granite State Democrats, who also oppose their placement in the DNC's reshuffled calendar, an additional 30 days to produce a plan that complies with the new schedule or face potential penalties. If they still hold their primary ahead of South Carolina, then party rules would prohibit presumptive nominee President Joe Biden from being on the ballot in New Hampshire as it would be an unsanctioned state. In that case, Democratic party leaders have said they would mount a write-in effort on the president’s behalf.

Scanlon, who has not yet set a date for New Hampshire's presidential primary, has already said it will not be in compliance with the DNC calendar.

In another state party dispute, the RBC agreed with a September hearing assessment that the Alabama Democratic Party (ADP) discriminated against key party constituencies by eliminating non-Black minority caucuses under new bylaws adopted in May. ADP leadership also improperly and without notice imposed a $50 qualifying fee to enter the May meeting, creating barriers to voting. ADP Chair Randy Kelley was given until November 28 to develop new bylaws for approval by the DNC.

Other Party Business
In addition to the presidential primary calendar vote, DNC officers reported on various "housekeeping matters" regarding finances, operations and resolutions.

DNC Treasurer Virginia McGregor reported record-breaking early investments into the state parties and the 2023 elections, including $1.5 million for the Virginia legislative races, six-figure funding in key 2023 gubernatorial races this Fall, and support for the Wisconsin state party leading up to the critical victory in the state supreme court race last April. She elaborated on the expanded staff in communications, messaging and field, saying, "wherever the Republicans are gathering, we are going to be there too."

DNC Finance Chair Chris Korge, who is also the Finance Chair for the Biden Victory Fund, reported that they have launched the largest ever joint fundraising committee in the history of either party. In the second quarter, after just six weeks of fundraising, they raised $72 million -- more than double what Donald Trump raised and three and a half times what Ron DeSantis raised. The successful results of the 3rd quarter, said Korge, will be reported in the next week.

Be It Resolved
Nearly two dozen resolutions were passed by DNC members. Although not officially enforceable, they are a reflection of the party's overall agenda, positions and priorities.

They included praise for President Biden’s “historic first term," citing his lowering of prescription drug costs as well as his climate and economic agenda.

Others championed reproductive rights, gun violence prevention, the right to vote, and First Amendment rights at stake under the assault on public libraries, while celebrating the American Worker and Labor, and Hispanic Heritage Month.

Resolutions were also passed honoring the Life and Career of Jerry Apodaca, Jennie Lou Blackton, Bill Bradbury, Ada Deer, Thomas Reilly Donahue Jr., Brian J. Donnelly, Daniel Ellsberg, Joe Garcia, Roy Herron, Aleita Huguenin, Joseph Eugene Kernan III, Mel Herbert King, Gloria Molina, John W. Olver, Isabel “Belle” Ortiz, Daniel Payne, John L. Reed, Bill Richardson, Randall Robinson, Patricia Schroeder, Randy Seiler, Charlie Stenholm, Jesse Tafalla Jr., Sandra Sue Tenorio, David Van Os, Eugene “Buzzy” Peltola Jr., Peg Yorkin

DemDaily: Meet Me in St. Louis 10/6/23
DemDaily: DemDaily: Your Guide to The Democratic National Committee 10/3/23

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Kimberly Scott

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