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Politics and Government

Democrats want Colorado to be one of the nation’s first presidential primary states in 2024

The move comes as the Democratic National Committee looks to move the spotlight away from Iowa and New Hampshire

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren reacts to audience members during a campaign rally Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The Colorado Democratic Party wants to make Colorado one of the national standard-bearers when it comes to the 2024 presidential primary.

The state party last week notified the Democratic National Committee that it intends to apply for early presidential primary status in two years, which would likely guarantee more and earlier candidate visits to Colorado.

Colorado Democratic Party Chairwoman Morgan Carroll wrote in a May 5 letter to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee that “presidential candidates would be better equipped to campaign in the rest of the states by listening to and learning from the different regions, people and needs in” Colorado.

“We are the new model for American optimism and engagement in the political process,” the letter said, also touting that Colorado has “some of the most progressive election and voting laws in the nation.”

The DNC is soliciting applications from states to become an early nomination or primary state in 2024 in an effort to move the spotlight away from Iowa and New Hampshire. Iowa’s caucus process has been riddled with controversy and some Democrats question whether either state is truly representative of the national Democratic electorate.

President Joe Biden fared poorly in both states in 2020, for instance, before going on to secure the Democratic nomination. Biden has said he plans to run for reelection in 2024, though pundits aren’t so sure.

The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted last month to launch an application process to help it determine which states should go first in selecting Democrats’ 2024 presidential nominee.

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The Colorado Democratic Party thinks Colorado deserves a chance to be one of the national standard-bearers in 2024.

“Our state represents the hope of America and is unique for its diversity,” said Megan Burns, a Colorado Democratic Party spokeswoman. 

Burns said the decision to apply for early-primary status “was unanimous from all of our Colorado members of the DNC because we showcase who we are as Democrats and our commitment to connecting with voters and lifting up the grassroots.”

Bernie Sanders rally Feb. 16, 2020
Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks to an enthusiastic crowd of thousands at the Colorado Convention Center on Feb. 16, 2020. (Moe Clark, The Colorado Sun)

Carroll’s letter said that Colorado “is a state that is quite independent and prominent amongst its … neighbors,” citing the large number of unaffiliated voters in the state and how Colorado has trended more Democratic in the past decade.

It’s not exactly clear how holding the Democratic presidential primary in Colorado early may affect the Republican presidential primary in the state. It’s possible, if not likely, that the GOP primary would have to be moved earlier, too, since unaffiliated voters have the option to cast a ballot in either.

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said the national GOP’s position on the timing of Colorado’s presidential primary would likely factor into the decision. Colorado’s governor is ultimately responsible for setting the presidential primary date.

Colorado was a Super Tuesday state in 2020, which put it roughly in the middle of the pack in terms of presidential primary timing. As a result, candidate visits were relatively scant. In fact, Biden didn’t even make a public campaign stop in Colorado before the primary.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg speaks to 9-year-old Zachary Ro, center, of Lone Tree, as Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold looks on at a campaign rally late Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Aurora. The boy questioned Buttigieg on how to tell people that he is gay. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

If Colorado were to have one of the nation’s first presidential primaries, candidates would almost certainly pay more attention to the state. 

Colorado will have a lot of competition in seeking early-primary status, according to The New York Times. The newspaper reports that the list of other states that have applied to have one of the nation’s first primaries or nominating processes include:

  • Maryland
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Puerto Rico
  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Nebraska
  • Oklahoma
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Nevada
  • Washington

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