Georgia Democrats ramp up effort seeking early slot on 2024 primary schedule

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, in her role as chair of Georgia's Democratic Party, is seeking an earlier slot on the primary calendar in the 2024 presidential campaign. “With our great diversity, political competitiveness and proven model for battleground states everywhere, Georgia is the ideal state for any candidate to build a strong, inclusive campaign,” Williams said.  (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

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U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, in her role as chair of Georgia's Democratic Party, is seeking an earlier slot on the primary calendar in the 2024 presidential campaign. “With our great diversity, political competitiveness and proven model for battleground states everywhere, Georgia is the ideal state for any candidate to build a strong, inclusive campaign,” Williams said. (Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com)

Credit: robert.andres@ajc.com

‘The true north of the Democratic Party is in the deep South.’

Georgia Democrats are stepping up their campaign to land a coveted spot among the earliest states to vote in the 2024 presidential primary with a video highlighting the state’s diversity, history and emergence as one of the nation’s most important political battlegrounds.

The video unveiled Wednesday by the Democratic Party of Georgia featured clips of former President Jimmy Carter and civil rights heroes Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lewis before giving way to modern-day political figures.

Narrated by U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, the video also touts the party’s creation of a first-ever “voter protection” unit and Democratic victories in Georgia’s 2020 presidential race and the sweep by Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the 2021 U.S. Senate runoffs.

“Our racial, geographic and economic diversity isn’t just a stat,” said Williams, the party’s chair. “It’s our strength. A strength that’s reflected in our Democratic leaders who are committed to making sure our state’s diversity is represented at the ballot box. A strength that knows how to win.”

It’s Georgia’s latest volley in a competition to land an earlier slot on the presidential nominating calendar, which would give the state greater influence in picking the nominee — and focus more attention on the state’s most pressing issues.

The Democratic National Committee is allowing states to bid for earlier dates after Iowa’s disastrous caucus in 2020 led to sharp questions about whether the majority-white, rural state best represents the party’s diverse electorate.

Georgia is among 17 states and territories vying for the early slots as DNC officials prepare a final recommendation in August. A final DNC vote on the early-voting schedule is expected in September.

Leaders in Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina are trying to preserve their places at the head of the line, while Georgia is competing either to usurp South Carolina or, potentially, win a spot if a fifth state is added to the early-voting schedule.

Also still in the running are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, Texas and Washington.

The plan would need to be approved by Republican officials, who would have to sign off on a calendar change. Aides to Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger have yet to comment on the proposal.

State Democratic officials, who recently presented the proposal in Washington, say an earlier date will be an economic boon for Georgia, drawing millions of dollars in spending from the campaigns, media outlets and others. It would also bring new focus to the state’s battleground status.

Separately, Atlanta is also competing to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention.

The new attention would contrast with past presidential primary campaign cycles. Presidential candidates have only sparingly visited Georgia during recent primary contests, devoting much of their attention to generating a sense of momentum earlier.

Georgia set its 2020 primary for March 24 — weeks after Iowa’s vote — but it was pushed back twice as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. Joe Biden trounced Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders to win the state’s June 9 vote.

“With our great diversity, political competitiveness and proven model for battleground states everywhere, Georgia is the ideal state for any candidate to build a strong, inclusive campaign,” Williams said.

The ad closed with the party’s tag line for the pitch: “Georgia. The true north of the Democratic Party is in the deep South.”