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Sixteen states vying for the early slots in 2024’s presidential primary calendar pitched their case to the Democratic National Committee onWednesday and Thursday, touting their history, diversity, economies, and electoral competitiveness in the general election.
State party officials, a governor, lt. governors, an attorney general, members of Congress, senior staff and party strategists touted their electorates, industries, heritage, and features that would propel presidential candidates and draw national scrutiny, which pleased the officials on the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC). But the panel’s leaders also probed whether Republicans in otherwise promising states would seek to impede a revised Democratic primary calendar.
“Is this a Republican who will respect the will of the voters, or a Republican who won’t?” James Roosevelt, RBC co-chair, asked Nevada’s presenters about their top election official, its secretary of state, as that western state sought to be 2024’s first primary, which would supplant Iowa’s caucuses and New Hampshire’s primary.
“We are in an open contest now,” replied Rebecca Lambe, one of theNevada’s foremost Democratic strategists. “We’re just in a place where we believe that we will have a Democratic secretary of state [after the general election this fall].”
“If you had told any of us five years ago that we would consider the election for secretary of state to be at the top of our list of important elections, we would have said you were nuts,” Roosevelt replied. “And now that’s true for all of us.”
But a 2020 presidential election denier last week won Nevada’s GOP primary for that office, raising a complication for the panel that plans to issue its 2024 nominating season schedule in August – months before that election’s outcome will emerge. Other GOP complications, or their prospect, shadowed the otherwise upbeat presentations.
For example, Georgia – which helped elect Joe Biden president and cemented a Democratic Senate majority – made a strong case as theSouth’s foremost battleground state. In addition to touting the Peach State's diverse communities, its presenters, led by state party chair and Rep. Nikema Williams, noted that Georgia’s statewide elections could not be won without appealing to urban, suburban, and rural voters together.
But its top election official is currently a Republican, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has the authority to set 2024’s primary’s date and may not cooperate with the DNC. Moreover, since 2020, Georgia’sGOP-run legislature has passed several laws restricting voting options and unseating Democratic election officials in blue epicenters.
“I don’t think I have to tell you about the intensity of the other side because of what you have been able to do in the past,” said YvetteLewis, RBC member and Maryland Democratic Party chair. “And that’s what concerns me about moving forward.”
New Hampshire, surprisingly, has similar complications. Bill Gardner, its longtime secretary of state, retired in 2022 after serving for more than four decades. Its legislature, which appointed a Republican successor, broke with past practice of appointing a Democratic deputy. The GOP legislature also has added paperwork requirements to Election Day voter registration, which is its latest effort to discourage college students from voting.
In the case of New Hampshire, which, like Iowa, has been criticized by some DNC leadership for being too white, rural, and out-of-step with national demographic trends, its legislature could complicate any effort by the DNC to supplant its first-in-the-nation primary, which is required under a state law. Its Democratic Party leadership also opposed losingits prized slot – and said so.
“I’ve been a very proud Democrat, but I’m a prouder Granite-stater,”said Ray Buckley, New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, when asked how the party would “handle” not being the first primary. “The state law isn’t something that the people of New Hampshire would allow to be changed.” Moments later, he added, “We don’t have the power to tell the secretary of state not to schedule the primary.”
“I think it would be very detrimental on the Senate race [where Democratic Sen.Maggie Hassan is seeking re-election this year], the congressional races, and on all of the down-ballot races because the Republican Party is already teeing up to blame Democrats,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), after a presentation emphasizing the state’s legacy and increased diversity. “We have been able to win consistently because we continue to engage with voters, and because those voters are so engaged.
”Iowa’s reaction was even blunter. RBC member Scott Brennan, who was among its presenters, told the panel that Iowa would hold a party-run contest in 2024 where participants would cast mailed-out ballots.The votes would be counted on the same day as it convened meetings to appoint delegates to the process’ next stage: county conventions.That scheme was still a “caucus” under Iowa law, he said, which led to RBC questions whether that process differed from a government-run election, and conflicted with New Hampshire’s primary.
“We intend to remain first,” Brennan said, when asked by Roosevelt what would happen if it was not allowed to hold the first caucus.
Other states, meanwhile, eagerly sought to be their region’s early contest and lacked similar complications.In the Midwest, Minnesota and Michigan gave strong presentations tor eplace Iowa. Minnesota, which, for years has had the nation’s highest voter turnout, emphasized its ethnic diversity, which was spread across urban and rural areas. Its secretary of state, Democrat Steve Simon, told the RBC that Minnesota’s Republicans – from ex-governors and senators to its Chamber of Commerce – would support legislation to authorize and earlier primary. For their part, Michigan’s presenters emphasized its racial and economic diversity, and also said that they privately had been getting assurances of cooperation from Republicans on legislation to move up the primary.
“Michigan Democrats and Republicans have a proven track record of working together when it matters,” said Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) “And in Michigan, everybody knows that this matters.”
New Jersey, in a presentation led by Gov. Phil Murphy, a former top DNC officer, made much the same pitch. His state is not only ethnically and economically diverse, with liberal voting laws that have boosted participation, but as governor, he emphasized that he appoints the secretary of state and attorney general.
“We will not let you down,” Murphy said. “If you chose us to go early, you will look back on that decision and say, ‘You know what, we made the right decision. These folks are in it for the right reasons. They view the party the right way. They’ve got a reliable electoral system. There will be no noise around secretaries of state or attorneys general.”
Steven Rosenfeld is the editor and chief correspondent of Voting Booth. He has reported for National Public Radio, Marketplace, and Christian Science Monitor Radio, as well as a wide range of progressive publications including Salon, AlterNet, The American Prospect, and many others.
When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was confronted over his support for the bipartisan bill addressing elements of gun violence, he defended his Second Amendment record, telling reporters: “I spent my career supporting, defending and expanding” gun rights, and stressing that he had “spent years” confirming conservative judges. McConnell made that statement in full confidence that the Supreme Court he packed with three illegitimate justices would do precisely what it did: ensure that sensible gun regulations anywhere would be eliminated.
The court decided the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen case Thursday in 6-3 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas, striking down that state’s 108-year-old provision requiring anyone who wants to get a license to carry a concealed handgun outside the home to show “proper cause” before being granted a permit. The Court’s extremists, Thomas writes, find that New York's strict limits on the concealed carry of firearms in public violates the Second Amendment. It essentially throws out the previous restrictions the Court upheld in its last big gun control case, the 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller.
Clarence Thomas' opinion for the court dramatically expands the scope of the Second Amendment, blasting past ostensible restrictions laid out in Heller to establish a new test that will render many, many more gun control laws unconstitutional. https://t.co/QtXnGlobBG
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 23, 2022
In his concurrence, Alito essentially rubbed salt in the wound, snidely asking “And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously did not stop that perpetrator.”
It's difficult to overstate how devastating Thomas' opinion is for gun control laws. This goes so, so far beyond concealed carry. The Supreme Court has effectively rendered gun restrictions presumptively unconstitutional. This is a revolution in Second Amendment law.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 23, 2022
Justice Stephen Breyer provides a lengthy dissent, including a comprehensive retelling of the mass deaths in an age when weapons of war are widely available to all citizens. “The primary difference between the Court's view and mine is that I believe the [Second] Amendment allows States to take account of the serious problems posed by gun violence that I have just described,” he writes. “I fear that the Court's interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leaves States without the ability to address them.”
The decision could mean as many as 20,000 more guns on the streets in New York City. The city is working to determine how to craft new rules to meet this outcome, and how to designate certain areas, including public transportation, as “sensitive places” to try to bar firearms.
“It’s gonna be a complete disaster and shows how anti-urban the Supreme Court is at foundation,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member Norman Brown predicted. “This is both a practical fear and a marketing fear. How do you market the train if you are assuming the guy with the heavy coat has a gun under his?” Brown said.
That’s exactly the scenario Justice Samuel Alito raised in oral arguments on the case. But he was imagining a subway system teeming with armed criminals against whom the rest of the population was defenseless. “All these people with illegal guns: They’re on the subway, walking around the streets, but ordinary, hard-working, law-abiding people, no,” Alito told New York State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood. “They can’t be armed.” The reality will be closer to Brown’s supposition: Those ordinary, law-abiding people are going to be worried about being surrounded by guns.
The decision also sets up challenges to regulations in every state that has them, including immediate those in six other states: California, New Jersey, Maryland, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. In fact, the decision is so broad that the concealed carry restrictions that protect some 83 million people are going to be wiped out.
“How the court interprets the Second Amendment is far from an abstract exercise,” Eric Tirschwell of Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group, told The Washington Post. “If the court forces New York to allow more people to carry guns in public, the result will be more people shot and more people killed, and that’s what the evidence and social science tells you.”
A belligerent gun rights community is there to make sure that other blue states are forced to buckle and loosen permit rules. “If they don’t do that,” said Matthew Larosiere, with the Firearms Policy Coalition, “we’ll certainly be suing them.” He foresees the states trying to preempt those suits. “Perhaps there will be a state or two on the West Coast that doesn’t want to do this and we will insist that they be dragged to court,” he said. “That’s something we’d rather avoid as it’s better to have people’s rights respected.”
Which sounds an awful lot like a threat, one that has the potential to rile up a lot of gun owners in these states who are feeling increasingly emboldened.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.