Democrats are pushing for Illinois to have an early primary in 2024

A group Illinois’ top Democrats threw at the state one of the first five in the nation to hold the party’s 2024 presidential election.

The elected officials stressed to a Democratic National Committee panel that Illinois’ racial, ethnic and geographic diversity, as well as strong support for unions and progressive causes, make it an attractive state for an early primary.

But they also had to defend Illinois’ reliable Democratic presidential vote against National Democrats’ desire to demonstrate a competitive battlefield state. They were also put on the defensive by party leaders who were concerned about Chicago’s expensive media market and that constant battles between the Chicago Teachers Union and City Hall could become sideshows for party presidential candidates to deal with.

Illinois is one of 16 states, as well as Puerto Rico, seeking early-state pre-Super Tuesday status as Democrats redo their presidential calendar. Initial primary states would benefit from media coverage and campaign and media spending.

Home to the traditional first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses, Iowa looks likely to lose its leadership position because of Democrats’ desire to prefer primary elections over caucuses. Other early states — New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — are expected to maintain their early positions, keeping a Midwestern state a priority with DNC officials seeking regional balance.

Michigan and Minnesota are also regional contenders but, unlike Illinois, are considered truer presidential battlefield states. In addition, Democratic voters are more spread out across Michigan than they are in Minnesota and Illinois.

But Illinois currently has Democratic supermajorities in the General Assembly, while Michigan and Minnesota need approval from the GOP-controlled legislature to move the primary date.

Illinois senior U.S. Senator Dick Durbin told the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that the state’s geographic makeup is a real substantive test for presidential candidates.

“Are you good at urban politics? We’ll find out in Chicago. How are things going in the suburbs where the women make the big difference? We’ll prove that to you in Illinois too. What about the middle ground? There isn’t much of it, but there is some of it. We have plenty in Illinois. And when it comes to the conservative and rural town of America, we have plenty to offer,” Durbin said.

“At the end of the Illinois primaries, you’ll know the winners and the losers, but you’ll also be able to separate the sections of the state and influence these candidates and their posts in those areas,” he said. . “That’s as good as you can get in the earliest primaries.”

U.S. Representative Robin Kelly of Matteson, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, noted that the state’s Democratic voters are not an established monolith, citing Hillary Clinton’s narrow 2 percentage point victory over U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. in the 2016 Illinois presidential primaries.

And Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, the first Latina elected to statewide office, said Illinois has twice the minority population of Michigan and is “blowing every other state out of the water because of our diversity.”

“We are an almost exact mirror image of the nation as a whole, an exact match by race and an incredibly close match by every other category measured,” she said, referring to education, age, income and religion. “We look like America. We talk like America. Southern Illinois is the south.”

Jake Lewis, deputy director of the state party, said Chicago’s media market is not prohibitive compared to other major cities, but it would present candidates with a challenge they should face.

“We have to test Democratic candidates early and so let’s test them in a state like Illinois. Let’s make sure they can gather the resources, they can deploy the resources, they can build coalitions to win,” he said.

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and member of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, told the Illinois delegation that “Chicago is a very interesting place” where there are “local issues that are then played out in the national campaign.” .”

Citing labor disputes between the CTU and the mayors of Chicago, she added, “I had hoped it was just limited to Rahm (Emanuel) and the CTU, but it seems to be an ongoing inaugural address in Chicago” under Lori Lightfoot.

“How do you make sure this is about the presidential election, as opposed to all this stuff,” Weingarten asked.

Lewis did not directly answer the question. Instead, he called the state “absolutely proud of the union” and said support for the early primaries, as well as for a bid to get the party’s 2024 presidential nomination convention for Chicago, was backed by the state’s AFL-CIO and the Chicago Federation of Labour.

“Illinois is not a state where unions are on the defensive to halt the Republican advance or join the race to the bottom. We are proud. We’re aggressive,” he said. “Nobody in this room knows better than you the power unions in Illinois and Chicago and we feel like Chicago is the capital of the Midwest and what’s happening in Chicago, what’s happening in Illinois, radiates to other Midwestern states.”

In addition to Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, Iowa, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington are other states making pitches for the DNC panel.

The Rules and Bylaws Committee is expected to make its recommendations for early-voting states in late July or early August, with a full vote by the DNC expected in late summer or early fall.

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