Democratic Party of Illinois bids to make Illinois early presidential primary state

The Democratic Party of Illinois asked the Democratic National Committee to make Illinois one of the first presidential primary states in 2024.

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This combination of pictures created on Nov. 3, 2020, shows polling places across the United States on Election Day.

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WASHINGTON – The Democratic Party of Illinois, looking to make the state a power player in choosing presidential nominees, formally asked the Democratic National Committee on Thursday to make Illinois one of the first primary states in 2024.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee passed a resolution at its April meeting calling for a 2024 nominating calendar that reflects diversity; helps Democrats win the White House; and “contributes to a fair and sound electoral process.”

Democrats are heading to ending Iowa’s status as the state with the kick-off vote, fearing little fallout from a state that votes GOP in presidential elections; is not diverse; and has a much criticized caucus voting system instead of a more straightforward primary. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Illinois likely seeking early vote status last month.

The DPI chair, U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, made the formal bid to be an early state in a letter to DNC chair Jamie Harrison. She wrote, “Illinois represents a true test of what presidential candidates will face across the nation and as an early primary state, Illinois can help strengthen the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates in the primary and the general election.”

Kelly also wrote, “No state matches America’s demographics like Illinois. Our borders stretch from the country’s third largest city and regional hub of Chicago to the suburbs of St. Louis, through the farming and rural communities that sit at the heart of our state in central and southern Illinois, and to the industrial hubs that run along the Mighty Mississippi. In each part of our state, you’ll find diversity in our people.”

And while Illinois has voted for Democrats running for the White House since 1992, Kelly said in her letter being a blue state should not disqualify Illinois. “With a growing population of Republican voters downstate and a partisan battle still present in the Chicago suburbs, Democrats take Illinois for granted at their own peril,” she wrote.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement, “In more ways than one, Illinois perfectly encapsulates the shared values of the Democratic party.

“Our state has led the Midwest and the nation in protecting a woman’s right to choose, raising the minimum wage, fighting climate change, expanding access to affordable health care, and protecting voting rights. Our strength is in our diversity. Whether measured by race, age, income, industry, or education — Illinois looks like America. We are uniquely suited to take on the challenge of hosting an early primary and look forward to working together to show everyone all that our great state has to offer.”

The DNC seems inclined to move up New Hampshire to the first spot, with Nevada and South Carolina following — as they do now. Illinois is competing for the Midwest slot — or, if the DNC decides to hold five early votes, then the wildcard fifth spot.

In order to do this, Illinois has to all but guarantee to DNC officials that the state legislature will vote for a February primary date — not the anticipated, for now, March 2024 primary. In 2022, the Illinois primary is June 28 — much later than usual because of late results from the 2020 census.

Kelly noted in her letter that Pritzker, Illinois House speaker Chris Welch and Senate President Don Harmon can deliver on a switched date.

Wrote Kelly, “With unified and supportive Democratic state leadership in Governor JB Pritzker, Senate President Don Harmon, and Speaker of the House Emanuel ‘Chris’ Welch, Illinois is well positioned to partner with the DNC to manage the kind of change that comes with an early primary date.”

The DNC asked interested states to submit a letter of intent by May 6 and a formal application by June 3. States that end up in the running will be asked to make a presentation to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee at a meeting tentatively set for June 22-25 in Washington, D.C. A decision is expected after the DNC meets on Aug. 5 and 6.

Besides Illinois, a DNC official on Saturday said the following states, Puerto Rico and Democrats Abroad filed a letter of intent to hold an early primary: Connecticut; Delaware; Maryland; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; Iowa; Michigan; Minnesota; Nebraska; Oklahoma; Georgia; South Carolina; Texas; Colorado; Nevada and Washington.

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