Democrats pass on Minnesota as early presidential primary state

Under a plan approved by a key panel of the Democratic National Committee Friday, Dec. 2, South Carolina will hold the first primary on Feb. 3. Of the states vying for the early primary spots, Michigan, another diverse Upper Midwest state, was seen as Minnesota’s strongest competitor. Michigan's primary will be on Feb. 27,

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Sam Eberhart, right, signs the voter roll as his daughter, Bridey, 3, leans against him at during the 2018 Minnesota primary election at Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church in St. Paul on Tuesday, Aug.14, 2018. Helping Eberhart is election volunteer Simon Carvalho.
(John Autey / Pioneer Press
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ST. PAUL — National Democratic Party leadership passed on Minnesota as an early presidential primary state for 2024, despite appeals from top state party officials.

Early presidential primaries can end up shaping the major party nominees for the nation’s highest office. Under a plan approved by a key panel of the Democratic National Committee on Friday, South Carolina will hold the first 2024 presidential primary on Feb. 3, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 6. Georgia would hold its primary on Feb. 20, and Michigan’s primary would be on Feb. 27.

Of the states vying for the early primary spots, Michigan, another diverse Upper Midwest state, was seen as Minnesota’s strongest competitor. In a news release, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chairman Ken Martin congratulated Michigan and other early states.

“While I am disappointed that Minnesota was not selected to be an early presidential primary state, I recognize how difficult this decision was and I appreciate all the work that the Democratic National Committee put into making it,” Martin said.

The “Driver’s Licenses For All” bill would remove the requirement for license applicants to provide proof of citizenship or lawful presence.

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws committee gathered Thursday in Washington, D.C., to set the 2024 primary schedule. Minnesota and 16 other states were finalists.


President Joe Biden sent a letter to the panel Thursday asking party leadership to ensure voters of color have a voice much earlier in the nomination process. South Carolina’s Democratic primary would give Black voters more of a voice in the process, backers of giving the state the first primary argued. The new schedule approved Friday afternoon reflects the president’s requests to the DNC.

"For decades, Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process," the president wrote to party leadership. "It is time to stop taking these voters for granted, and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process."

Iowa lost its spot as the opening contest in the race for the White House, a position it has held since 1972. Critics say Iowa is too homogeneous to continue serving as a presidential launching pad in a country that’s growing more diverse.

Biden in his letter also urged the Democratic Party to no longer allow states to hold caucuses in the nominating process, calling the process too time-consuming and unfair to anyone who does not have the flexibility to participate due to a job or other obligations. Iowa still holds caucuses, while Minnesota held its last presidential caucuses in 2016 before switching to a primary in 2020.

In their pitch to the national party for an early primary, the DFL presented Minnesota as “Democracy’s North Star,” highlighting the state’s high voter participation, civic engagement, a concentration of rural Democratic voters, growing ethnic diversity and strong LGBTQ community.

“To be successful in Minnesota, candidates need to win over voters in urban, suburban and rural communities, and they will need to appeal to an electorate that is rapidly diversifying,” Martin said.

Gov. Tim Walz, House Speaker Melissa Hortman and incoming Senate Majority Leader Kari Dziedzic sent a letter to the DNC pledging to pass legislation to move Minnesota’s primary to an earlier date if national leadership picks the state.

Minnesota’s 2020 presidential primary was March 3, a date shared with 14 other states.


Iowa historically started the process with its caucuses in late January or early February, and was followed by primaries in New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.

Minnesota’s next presidential primary is currently scheduled to take place March 5, 2024.

Alex Derosier covers Minnesota breaking news and state government for Forum News Service.
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