Michigan Democrats to apply to secure earlier presidential primary spot in 2024

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — The Michigan Democratic Party said Thursday it sent a letter to the Democratic National Committee indicating its intention to apply for Michigan to be among the first voting states in the presidential primary calendar.

It's the first formal step in the state party's effort to snag a coveted top spot at or near the front of the 2024 Democratic presidential primary season. The DNC is expected to make a decision later this summer.

Leaders of the effort argue that Michigan is more diverse and reflective of the country at large than Iowa and New Hampshire, which have led off the presidential nominating calendar for decades. 

"The states that go early in the Democratic presidential primary process should reflect the broad diversity of our party and our nation," Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes said in a statement.

"Michigan's diversity of race, ethnicity and religion; rural and urban communities; strong labor movement; and the range of jobs from manufacturing to agriculture to tourism tell the story of our nation. We represent America, and Michigan's voice should be heard early in the process of choosing the President of the United States."

Lavora Barnes

A party spokeswoman, Abby Rubley, said the letter was sent to the party affairs division of the DNC indicating an intention to put in a full application early next month. Letters of intent from state parties were due Friday. Other states including Nevada are also making a pitch, according to reports.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, is helping to organize Michigan's effort with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing. The aim is for Michigan to be one of the first five early-voting states, Dingell said. 

"I'm working it hard with all interested stakeholders," said Dingell, who worked on similar efforts with the late U.S. Sen. Carl Levin of Detroit.

Michigan's 2020 primary took place March 10, about five weeks after Iowa's caucuses and four weeks after New Hampshire's primary. 

Michigan's going earlier in the primary calendar would ensure more early attention and ad spending from candidates and possibly greater influence in who is picked as the eventual nominee. 

Democrats like Dingell have acknowledged they need to collaborate with the Republican-led Legislature to set a new primary date. 

It's also unclear if national Democrats would be concerned that Michigan voters don't register by party affiliation, which means voters may decide which primary to participate in, giving Republicans an opportunity to affect a close Democratic race. 

The Republican National Committee, chaired by Michigan's Ronna Romney McDaniel, voted last month to retain its 2024 nominating calendar, with the first four states staying as Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

mburke@detroitnews.com

Staff writer Craig Mauger contributed.