Family fight for Democrats in the ‘City of Brotherly Love’

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 3:08 PM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Democrats are gathering in Philadelphia this week for their annual winter meeting. While the members participate in panels and cocktail hours, the finale of this meeting will bring a massive change to the political landscape.

For 40 plus years, Iowa & New Hampshire have dominated the start of the presidential nominating process. That is all likely to change with a big vote Saturday.

“It’s a significant moment that can’t be overstated or underestimated for our state,” said South Carolina Democratic Chair Trav Robertson.

Robertson is ecstatic, because his state is set to become the first in the nation to hold a Democratic primary in 2024, knocking both Iowa and New Hampshire off their perches held for decades.

Late last year, President Biden suggested South Carolina go first, saying the state is more representative of the party. The party’s rules committee put the request in writing in early December, and this weekend the full party votes on it.

“The overarching purpose of this calendar is to create a diverse calendar that puts candidates in a position where they can talk to as many voters as possible,” said Robertson.

South Carolina turned the tide for President Biden in 2020 after subpar performances in Iowa and New Hampshire. Nevada is also benefiting from a positive 2020 result for Biden, now coming second in the calendar, the same day as New Hampshire.

“What that does for our presidential candidates is makes them better candidates because they’ve heard from the voices that are least represented,” said Matthew Fonken, executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party.

While Fonken’s state is moving up, Scott Brennan’s is on its way down. Brennan serves on the DNC rules committee for the state of Iowa. After a fiasco at the 2020 Iowa Caucuses in which the results were delayed and unclear, Brennan admits it felt like the last straw for his state.

“I think that played a big factor. A pound of flesh was being sought,” said Brennan. “We offered up a new caucus process that met all the touchstones the DNC wanted, and yet, it fell on deaf ears.”

Both Iowa and New Hampshire have state laws saying their respective contests must be first in the nation. New Hampshire Democratic Chair Raymond Buckley says Republican-controlled legislatures will not budge on the current schedule, as Republicans are set to vote the same way they have been.

There is the possibility both states continue holding their Democratic contests first regardless of what the DNC says, which could lead to the national party stripping their delegates to the national convention in 2024.

“We’re going to be first. We’re just hoping we can all work together and resolve this so we can have a successful 2024,” said Buckley.

While South Carolina members say they’re still whipping votes to ensure victory Saturday, Democrats are expecting the primary calendar vote to be a mere formality after the rules committee submitted the changes in December.