a group of Illinois’ top Democrats on Thursday made a proposal for the state to become one of the the first five in the country to hold the party’s presidential primary elections in 2024.
Elected officials stressed to a Democratic National Committee panel that Illinois’ racial, ethnic and geographic diversity, as well as strong support for unions and progressive causes, make it an attractive state for an early primary.
But they also had to defend Illinois’ credible Democratic vote for president against national Democrats’ desire to show a competitive state on the battlefield. They were also put on the defensive by party leaders concerned about Chicago’s expensive media market and that the constant battles between the Chicago Teachers Union and City Hall could become side issues that the party’s presidential candidates would be forced to resolve.
Illinois is one of 16 states, along with Puerto Rico, seeking early, pre-Super Tuesday state status as Democrats rework their presidential calendar. Early primary states would benefit from media exposure as well as campaign and media spending.
Iowa, home to the country’s traditional first presidential caucuses, looks likely to lose its leadership position due to Democrats’ desires to favor primaries over caucuses. Other early states – New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada – are expected to retain their starting positions, leaving a Midwestern state as a priority with DNC officials seeking regional balance.
Michigan and Minnesota are also regional candidates, but unlike Illinois, they are considered truer states on the presidential battleground. Additionally, Democratic voters are more dispersed across Michigan compared to Minnesota and Illinois.
But Illinois currently holds Democratic supermajorities in the General Assembly, while Michigan and Minnesota would need approval from their GOP-controlled legislatures to change the date of the primaries.
Illinois US Senator Dick Durbin told the DNC Rules and Statute Committee that the state’s geographic makeup offers a true substantive test for presidential candidates.
“Are you good at urban politics? We’ll find out in Chicago. How are you in suburban areas where women are making a big difference? We’ll prove this point to you in Illinois too. How about the middle ground? There’s not a lot of it, but there’s a little bit of it. We have a lot of that in Illinois. And when it comes to America’s conservative, rural small towns, we have a lot to offer,” Durbin said.
“At the end of the Illinois primary, you will know the winners and losers, but you will also be able to separate sections of the state and the impact that these candidates and their messages have in those areas,” he said. “That’s the best you can get in the first primaries.”
Representative Robin Kelly of Matteson, chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, noted that the state’s Democratic voters are not an establishment monolith, citing Hillary Clinton’s 2-percentage-point victory over Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the Illinois presidential primaries in 2016.
And Illinois parent Susana Mendoza, the first Latina elected to state office, said Illinois has twice the minority population of Michigan and “explodes every other water state in our diversity.”
“We are an almost exact mirror image of the nation as a whole, an exact match on race and an incredibly close match on every other measured category,” she said, referring to education, age, income and religion. “We look like America. We speak like America. Southern Illinois is the south.”
Jake Lewis, deputy director of the state party, said that Chicago’s media market is not cost prohibitive compared to other major cities, but that it would present candidates with a challenge they should be forced to face.
“We need to test Democratic candidates as soon as possible, so we’re going to test them in a state like Illinois. Let’s make sure they can raise the resources, they can deploy the resources, they can build the coalitions to win,” he said.
Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers and a member of the party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, told the Illinois delegation that “Chicago is a very interesting place” where there are “local issues that then play out in the national campaign. ”
She cited labor disputes between the CTU and Chicago mayors, adding that “I was hoping it would simply be restricted to Rahm (Emanuel) and the CTU, but it seems to be an ongoing speech in Chicago” under Lori Lightfoot.
“How do you guarantee that this is the presidential election as opposed to all these other issues?” asked Weingarten.
Lewis did not directly address the issue. Instead, he called the state “absolutely proud of the union” and said support for the early primaries date, as well as a bid to get the party’s presidential nominating convention for Chicago in 2024, was supported by the state. AFL-CIO and the Chicago Federation. Job.
“Illinois is not a state where unions are on the defensive trying to stop the Republican invasion or join the race from below. We are proud. We are aggressive,” she said. “Nobody knows better than you in this room that the unions of power have in Illinois and Chicago and we feel that Chicago is the capital of the Midwest and that what happens in Chicago, what happens in Illinois, radiates to other states in the Midwest. -West.”
In addition to Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, other states making proposals to the DNC panel are Iowa, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.
The Rules and Bylaws Committee is expected to make its recommendations for early voting states in late July or early August, with a full vote by the DNC expected in late summer or early fall.