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Democrats are preparing to strip Iowa of power to lead its presidential nomination process starting in 2024, part of a broader effort to allow early voting in white-minority states and better reflect the party’s highly diverse voter.

The Democratic National Committee’s rulemaking arm plans to recommend on Friday which states should be the first four to vote, while considering adding a fifth ahead of Super Tuesday, when a slew of states will hold primaries. But it delayed the decision until after the November election to avoid distracting Democrats in a key congressional race.

Still, the Iowa caucus remains shaky after a technical glitch sparked the 2020 debacle. More than a decade of complaints about caucus rules requiring in-person attendance limiting participation are reaching a crescendo. That has sparked a tight race between New Hampshire, which is now No. 2 but has traditionally started primary voting, and Nevada, a state with a large Hispanic population, looking to jump from No. 3 to the first.

“I fully expect Iowa to be replaced,” said former San Antonio mayor and Federal Housing Administrator Julian Castro, “and that the primary calendar will be rearranged to better reflect the diversity of the Democratic Party and the state. .”

Castro was not on the rules committee but criticized Iowa for being the first since the 2019 presidential campaign. A DNC spokesman said the rules committee is “undergoing a thorough process” and will continue to “make it work.”

Iowa has survived previous challenges and will likely do so again, especially considering the final decision is months away. It argues that voters here have a solid track record of kicking off the nomination process beyond 2020 — and that its caucuses have kept Democrats relevant amid the state’s recent right turn.

Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Ros Welburn said he would work to ensure that the nearly 50-year tradition lives on.

“When I became chairman and started the process, the word was ‘Iowa is done,'” Will told reporters on Thursday. “But nothing has been decided yet. No calendar has been submitted to the committee. We are still in this fight.”

But many rules committee members have said privately that the party favors New Hampshire or Nevada first, or possibly the same day. They both requested anonymity in order to be more free to discuss the ongoing discussions in detail.

South Carolina, which has a large black Democratic bloc, could move from fourth to third, freeing up a big Midwestern state for the next step. Michigan and Minnesota are making strong cases, but neither can change the primary date without legislative approval, requiring support from Republicans.

If the committee adds a fifth advance slot, that could go to Iowa to soften the blow.

Iowa has been voting since 1976, when Jimmy Carter had a dismal caucus result and seized enough momentum to eventually win the presidency. Since then, it has been followed by New Hampshire, which held the nation’s first primary since 1920. Nevada and South Carolina have followed suit since the 2008 presidential election, when Democrats last made major changes to the primary calendar.

Nevada has now eliminated its caucus in favor of the primary. In a recent speech by members of the rules committee, its delegation showed a video arguing that “tradition is not a sufficient reason to maintain the status quo”.

“If a diverse and inclusive state isn’t high on the primary agenda, I’m really concerned that we’re going to continue to see the same criticism of the Democratic primary process that we’ve been seeing,” said Sen. Jay, D-Nevada. Kee Rosen.

Representatives from Iowa and New Hampshire argue that small states allow all candidates — not just well-funded candidates — to connect personally with voters, and losing seats could be good for Republicans in the congressional race. Republicans have decided to let Iowa begin its 2024 presidential nomination cycle.

“Like adding two states in the early window, Nevada and South Carolina,” there’s a sense that, as if the U.S. isn’t standing still, “Democrats also change and grow with the times,” says Rules Committee member Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

New Hampshire Democratic National Committee member Bill Shaheen said he didn’t know what would have happened if the rules committee vote wasn’t delayed, but he hailed it as “an opportunity to show what kind of state we are.”

When the Democratic National Committee approved an adjustment to the primary calendar through 2008, it called for a caucus meeting in Nevada before Iowa and New Hampshire, only to see New Hampshire hold an early primary. Regardless of the party’s decision, Shaheen said his state may do something similar this time around.

“Whether the DNC admits it or not, we’re going to have our first primary,” said Shaheen’s wife, Jenny, a senator. “It’s very likely.”

Those pushing for a more diverse state lead say Democrats could impose sanctions to prevent such bickering.

Nonwhite voters make up 26 percent of all voters and support Joe Biden over Donald Trump by a nearly 3-1 margin in the 2020 presidential election, according to AP VoteCast, a national survey of voters (Donald Trump). Nonwhite voters made up 38 percent of Democratic voters at the time.

By comparison, 91 percent of participants in the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucus are white, and 94 percent of New Hampshire primary voters are white, according to VoteCast.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who is helping lead her state’s push for early voting, said Michigan reflects diversity, “which is what we’re missing in these early primaries.”

“We’re not going to test what a candidate’s general election will look like,” Dingle said, adding that Michigan “hosts more county fairs than anyone could ever want.” It’s reminiscent of love The state fair in Iowa, where generations of presidential candidates have gorged on grilled pork chops and gobbled up every fried food imaginable.

“We’re very good at junk food,” Dingle said with a smile.

If the Rules Committee approves the revamped framework, it still has to be approved by the entire Democratic National Committee, although it typically supports such a decision.

That may be moot if Biden chooses to seek re-election. In that case, the party may not be interested in crafting a robust primary schedule that could allow another Democrat to challenge him for the nomination.

Some rules committee members said the White House had recently taken a keen interest in the primaries calendar process, but others expressed disappointment that the Biden administration has not given clearer guidance on where its preferences lie.

Beyond diversity, Democrats are considering electoral competitiveness and states’ efforts to ease voting restrictions. They’re examining states’ racial makeup, union membership and demographic and geographic size — which could affect the likelihood of direct voter participation as well as travel and advertising costs.

After a result glitch prevented the Associated Press from declaring a winner, the Iowa Democrats proposed changing the presidential preference section of the caucus, requiring all participants to mail their picks. But for more than a decade, top Democrats have also called for moving the starting line elsewhere, highlighting the party’s growth and potential among young voters and voters of color.

Advocacy groups cheer on Nevada’s first bid, Latino Victory, Board of Directors of Asian American Action Fund, Bold PAC of Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Somos Votantes and ASPIRE PAC representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Congress support it.

Castro said his position, once an outlier that bored party leaders, was increasingly embraced by top Democrats.

“This time it feels different,” he said, “after the Iowa experience in 2020 — and after the push for equity and racial justice over the past two years, the realization that the Democrats are the only big tent party, the only inclusive party Political parties – it’s fitting that our main calendar reflects that.”


Weissert reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire, and Hannah Fingerhut in Washington contributed.

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