Biden shows little urgency as Dems mull 2024 primary shakeup
Minnesota among states vying to hold top slot
WASHINGTON — Democrats considering shaking up the order of their 2024 presidential primary are waiting on President Joe Biden, anxious to see if he’ll endorse stripping Iowa of its traditional leadoff spot or discourage major changes while mulling his own potential reelection bid.
But Biden seems to be showing little urgency in addressing the primary calendar, allies say. The president previously avoided moves that could upset any state ahead of November’s critical midterm elections. And he continues to do much of the same even now, as his team quietly moves to lay the groundwork for a 2024 run.
The clock is nonetheless ticking because the Democratic National Committee’s rulemaking arm is meeting Friday to begin deciding which states should be the first four to vote, while considering adding a fifth slot. The lack of a clear signal from the White House has left rules committee members in a holding pattern.
“We do have a leader of our party, and that is President Biden. So we know that there will be a way in from the White House,” said Artie Blanco of Nevada, a member of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee. She added, “Our goal is to have the best calendar that gives our president — when he’s running again — what it looks like for us and for future candidates.”
Still, the primary calendar showdown may be coming before the 80-year-old Biden is ready to fully discuss reelection. The president says he “intends” to run again but plans to talk it over with his family over the holidays before revealing his decision early next year.
White House aides and Biden allies have begun staffing and structural discussions for his likely 2024 run to ensure the campaign would have all that it needs to be successful, but they have avoided taking any overt steps while the president weighs a final decision.
Then-President Barack Obama didn’t officially launch his reelection effort until April 2011, some six months after the 2010 midterms, and Biden allies are eyeing a similar time frame should he decide to go forward.
Still, Biden’s predecessor, former President Donald Trump, has already announced his third campaign for the White House.
The Democratic rules committee had been expected to decide the primary order in August but put off doing so until after the midterm elections. No matter what the group ultimately does, its decision will still have to be approved by the full DNC, which will likely come next year — though that vote will likely follow the committee’s recommendation.
If Biden runs again, the DNC’s decision will be largely moot for 2024 since the party will have little appetite for encouraging a major challenge to a sitting Democratic president. Still, its move could have implications for the presidential race in 2028 and beyond.
Iowa’s caucus has kicked off presidential primary voting since 1976, but technical glitches sparked a meltdown in Democratic 2020 results that kept The Associated Press from declaring a winner. Many party leaders have also long called for beginning the presidential nominating process in a state that is less white, reflecting Democrats’ deeply diverse electorate.
Vying to replace Iowa are New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first primary but follows Iowa’s caucuses, and Nevada, a heavily Hispanic state that had held a caucus but now plans to stage a primary and is looking to jump ahead from third place.
South Carolina, with its large bloc of Black Democrats, could move from fourth to third, freeing up a large Midwestern state to go next. Michigan and Minnesota are making major cases that were only strengthened by Democrats winning full control of both states’ legislatures in the midterms. The Michigan Senate on Tuesday passed a bill moving the state’s primary to the second Tuesday of February, and the proposal should soon clear the state House with bipartisan support.
If the DNC committee adds a fifth early slot, that could go to Iowa to soften the blow of no longer going first.
Ken Martin, chairman of the Minnesota Democrats and a rules committee member, said his state sports strong union membership and the country’s highest voter turnout, including amo