WASHINGTON — Minnesota Democrats pitched national party leaders Thursday in a bid to become one of the first U.S. states to hold a 2024 presidential primary, pointing to the state's strong voter turnout, growing diversity and election laws.
Kicking off their presentation by playing Prince's "Let's Go Crazy," DFL Party Chair Ken Martin and prominent state politicians outlined to a Democratic National Committee panel why Minnesota should be chosen for a coveted slot, which would hand the state's voters greater influence over national politics.
"Minnesotans show up for their democracy," DFL Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said during the meeting. "We tend to it, we care for it. We vote, we volunteer, we produce results in the face of fierce competition."
Sixteen states and Puerto Rico are touting themselves to a DNC panel this week, as the party considers shuffling the early voting calendar. Iowa's longstanding first-in-the-nation contest is under threat after the tumultuous 2020 caucuses.
Michigan and Illinois are among those vying, and Iowa is actively seeking to retain its spot. A resolution approved earlier this year said up to five states could hold their primaries before the first Tuesday in March, with at least one state each coming from the east, west, south and Midwest.
Matt Bennett, co-founder of a moderate Democratic think tank in Washington called Third Way who is not involved in the selection process, said that Minnesota "checks a lot of boxes."
"I think Minnesota is in as good a shape as any state," Bennett said. "The fact that it's seen, perhaps unwisely, as a reliable state as opposed to an iffy blue-wall state might matter, and I don't know which way that cuts. That could help the bid or hurt it."
Members of the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee questioned Minnesota party leaders about how far in advance early voting would start if the primary is moved up, whether Minnesota can get the Republican buy-in needed to move the primary, and the variable of the state's weather.
For Minnesota to change its primary from its current early March slot, the state's DFL and GOP party chairs have to submit a joint letter to the Secretary of State's office agreeing on a single date. No deal has been reached between the two sides so far, and the Minnesota GOP did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former U.S. Rep. Vin Weber, both Republicans, have publicly supported the shift.
Other state DFL leaders — Attorney General Keith Ellison, swing district U.S. Rep. Angie Craig and Secretary of State Steve Simon — were on hand with Martin and Flanagan to make Thursday's pitch in Washington.
"Minnesota can serve as a rallying point for building back the Democratic base in the middle of the country and provide a blueprint to rebuild the blue wall, reignite the prairie progressive spirit and bring forth a new generation of Democratic leadership for the nation," Ellison told the panel.