DemDaily: Download on the DNC Winter Meeting

February 6, 2023 

An energized Democratic National Committee (DNC) met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania last week to celebrate one historic election and change the history of the next.

The Winter DNC meeting of over 1,000 national committee members, state party leaders, donors, press and guests at the Sheraton Downtown Philadelphia was headlined by visits from an exuberant President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

See DemDaily: Your Guide to the Democratic National Committee 2/1/23
DemDaily: An Emboldened DNC Descends On Philly 2/2/23

2024 Presidential Primary Calendar
After three days of state party, caucus and council meetings, the delegates from each state, DC and the territories met to vote on official party business, including the 2024 presidential primary calendar.

At the close of Saturday's three-and-a-half-hour General Session, delegates approved the recommendation of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) to reshuffle the early primary window for the first time since 2008, upending Iowa's coveted "first in the nation" caucus status, held for five decades.

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, the nominating order gives preference to battleground states and those with diverse electorates, including ethnic, geographic and union representation.

While not eliminating caucuses -- private, in-person events run by the political parties themselves -- the process also favors states that conduct a primary, which are elections run by state and local governments and exercised by 92% of the states.

Last year, the RBC met with 20 states over 11 meetings, with "the goal of yielding the best calendar possible for our party and to produce the best nominee...we wanted a calendar that would reflect who our party is now and not what our party was then," said DNC RBC member Bishop Leah Daughtry. "This was about acknowledging ...that Black and Latino voters are the committed base of our Party and deserve to have a say in the crafting of who our nominee is."

The new presidential primary calendar for 2024 begins in South Carolina on February 3, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on February 6, Georgia on February 13 and then Michigan on February 27.

The plan, however, is not without challenges. While South Carolina, Nevada and Michigan have met party requirements to join the new early lineup, Georgia and New Hampshire, where the legislatures are controlled by Republicans, must overcome legal obstacles to moving their primary dates.

In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State and chief election official Brad Raffensperger has endorsed an early primary in 2028 but has balked at changing the state's Democratic presidential primary in 2024 without the GOP agreeing to move its primary.

New Hampshire's state constitution mandates that they hold the country's first primary, and "state Republican leaders have made clear that will not change," said State Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley. "We hope the DNC will join us in understanding this reality, and work with us to elect - not punish - Democrats in our state."

Both states have been granted an extension until June 3 to confirm that they can hold a primary on their assigned date. If any state chooses to jump ahead of the new order, it could face penalties imposed by the DNC, such as limiting the number of delegates the state sends to the national convention.

Similarly, candidates who chose to campaign in unsanctioned states can incur party penalties, including limited access to debates, statistical data, and financial resources.

Candidates who are victorious in the early primary states have a major advantage in momentum and money, often forcing other contenders to drop out before they can advance to the remaining primary calendar. In 2020, South Carolina propelled Biden to victory, and its new status as the nation's first contest is likely to deter primary challengers to Biden in 2024.

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

Breaking Records
DNC Finance Chair Chris Korge reported that the DNC raised twice as much money as any other midterm cycle in history. That includes over $100 million from major donors and $170 million from more than 900,000 grassroots donors, with an average contribution of $29.

DNC Treasurer Virginia McGregor reported a historic investment of over $90 million "in the field" in 2022, driven by "the largest, biggest, and best team ever" of 300 staff.

A total cash transfer of $37 million was made to the DSCC and DCCC, the largest ever during a midterm, and over half a million Democratic volunteers and staffers from 12,000 campaigns utilized the DNC's national voter file.

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 of President Biden’s “historic agenda” and accomplishments, and recognized Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Leader Steny Hoyer and Whip Clyburn, Black History Month, labor, the young vote, the COP27 environment team and the efforts of DNC Caucuses and Councils in the midterms.

Others supported Ukraine, Statehood for DC, and protecting Americans’ voting rights, while condemning “all forms of white nationalism and the rise of extremist religious ideologies,” impropriety by elected officials and “Republicans’ extreme, anti-choice agenda.”

Among those that did not make it out of committee was a resolution calling for the Party's commitment to eliminating outside “Dark Money” during Democratic primary elections.

Resolutions were also passed honoring the Life and Career of Jim Bowen, Reverend Calvin O. Butts III, Ashton B. Carter, Dr. Geoffrey E. Clark, Mayor Terrence Culbreath, Governor James “Jim” Florio, Delegate Sheila Hixon, Senator Gary LaPaille, Secretary Betty McCain, Representative Donald McEachin, Judy Reardon, Connecticut State Representative Quentin “Q” Williams, Rosalind “Roz” Wyman and Geraldine Boykin.

DemDaily: Your Guide to the Democratic National Committee 2/1/23
DemDaily: An Emboldened DNC Descends On Philly 2/2/23

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Kimberly Scott

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