Updated December 2, 2022 - 2:54 pm
South Carolina will vote first in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary, followed three days later by Nevada and New Hampshire, the Democratic National Convention’s Rules and Bylaws Committee determined Friday afternoon.
South Carolina will hold its primary on Saturday, Feb. 3, while Nevada and New Hampshire will hold theirs on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Georgia will vote next on Feb. 20, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27, the committee decided.
The committee’s vote comes a day after President Joe Biden recommended a schedule for the presidential primaries that upends the current calendar, which has had Iowa holding the first-in-the-nation caucuses since 1972, followed by New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary since 1920.
At its meeting Friday morning, members of the Rules and Bylaws Committee, for the most part, expressed agreement with Biden’s plan, calling it a “bold approach” that reflects the diversity of the U.S. and the Democratic Party.
The lineup of early voting states includes four battleground states — Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia and Michigan — as well as South Carolina, which is more economically and racially diverse than Iowa.
The plan that the Rules and Bylaws Committee approved aligns with Nevada’s law that requires both Republicans and Democrats to hold their presidential primaries on Feb. 6.
“Nevada truly appreciates the accommodation that has been made,” said Artie Blanco, Nevada’s committee member on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, who asked that the committee change Biden’s recommendation to put South Carolina on Feb. 3 and Nevada and New Hampshire on Feb. 6 so that it would comply with the state law. “While not ideal to be on the same day as another state, we accept that and accept what the will of the president is.”
Nevada’s Democratic U.S. senators, Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, who have pushed for Nevada to be first in the primary lineup, issued a statement after the vote saying they are glad to see Nevada has moved up to be an earlier and more prominent position.
“While this new calendar represents progress, we continue to believe the first presidential nominating contest should be held in a competitive, pro-labor state that supports voting rights and reflects all of America’s diversity. Nevada is accessible, it is union-strong, it has double-digit representation of Latino, Black, and AAPI voters, and it is the most consistently competitive battleground in the nation. Nevada still has the strongest argument for being the First In The Nation primary, and we will keep making our case for 2028,” the senators said in the statement.
States must provide a guarantee to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee by Jan. 5, 2023, that they will follow the DNC’s rules and the calendar it set.
If a state does not follow the DNC’s calendar, that state would automatically lose half of its delegates for the party convention, and candidates would be precluded from campaigning in that state. Candidates also would not be able to put their name on the ballot in that state, said DNC counsel Graham Wilson.
Some committee members expressed concern about having three primaries within three days of each other. Joanne Dowdell, a committee member from New Hampshire, said that the schedule could limit candidates’ abilities to campaign.
New Hampshire Democrats were disappointed with the plan, as were Iowa Democrats, who previously had the distinction of going first with its caucuses.
“I will say that New Hampshire has a statute. We do have a law. We will not be breaking our law,” Dowdell said.
Nevada Democrats worked hard to push their case as to why Nevada should go first, with its strong union presence, economic and racial diversity, and its deliverance of the 50th U.S. Senate seat for the Democrats.
But the loss by Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak in the 2022 election also was brought up at the committee’s meeting.
The DNC’s calendar could be moot, however, depending on who decides to run for president in 2024.
If Biden decides to run and is uncontested, a primary would not be necessary. Nevada’s law requires that parties hold their presidential primary on Feb. 6, unless a candidate for one party is uncontested. In that case, the secretary of state must certify the candidate to the state central committee and the national committee of the political party.
“I like the message we are sending to voters. We are saying every voice matters,” said Mo Elleithee, a committee member from Washington D.C. “We can hold this up to Republicans and say, ‘You try to play on this field.’”
Friday’s meeting was held on what would have been the 83rd birthday for former Sen. Harry Reid, who was a staunch advocate for Nevada holding the nation’s first presidential primary. His influence was noted at the meeting, with Blanco saying that Reid placed her on the board to represent the state.
“I would have loved Nevada to have gone first, but I couldn’t be prouder that Nevada is going to have a more important say in who our nominee is,” said Maria Cardona, a committee member from Washington D.C.