Welcome to the Wednesday, February 15, Brew.
Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:
- An update on the 2024 presidential primary calendar
- St. Louis holds first primaries for downsized Board of Aldermen on March 7
- Two state lawmakers have changed parties this year
An update on the 2024 presidential primary calendar
The 2024 presidential candidate field continues to grow, with more candidates announcing their campaigns for the White House. Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is in the process of putting its presidential primary calendar together. The Republican National Committee (RNC) approved its presidential primary calendar in April 2022, re-establishing the early line-up of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada, in that order.
The DNC approved a new set of early presidential primary states on Feb. 4. Uncertainties about the final schedule remain, however, since state political parties, state law, and state election regulators ultimately govern presidential primary dates. Neither the DNC nor the RNC directly control the exact date of nominating primaries.
The DNC plan makes South Carolina the first primary state on Feb. 3, 2024, with New Hampshire and Nevada following on Feb. 6. Georgia comes next, on Feb. 13, and Michigan on Feb. 27. In 2020, the early primary states were:
- Iowa: Feb. 3
- New Hampshire: Feb. 11
- Nevada: Feb. 22
- South Carolina: Feb. 29
Both parties penalize noncompliance with early primary line-ups by reducing the number of delegates a state has at the national convention, which limits that state’s influence on the presidential nominating process.
States could respond to these differing calendars in a few ways. For example, states could decide to hold nominating events on different dates, observing DNC and RNC schedules. States could hold both parties’ nominating events on the same date, violating either DNC or RNC rules. Or states could hold both parties’ nominating events on the same date, violating both DNC and RNC rules.
Here’s the rundown on the status of the early primary states.
- Iowa: State law requires presidential nominating caucuses to be held at least eight days before any other state’s primary. However, the law does not outline consequences for violation, and Iowa has previously held caucuses fewer than eight days before another primary. State parties select caucus dates in Iowa, and the state Democratic Party opposes moving their caucus out of the early window.
- South Carolina: The state runs and funds presidential primaries, but state parties select the date their primaries take place. This means that Democrats don’t need approval from the Republican trifecta state government to move the presidential primary earlier in the calendar, and a date change on the Democratic side would not affect the Republican primary date.
- New Hampshire: Officials oppose the states new place in the Democratic primary line-up. Citing state law, which requires New Hampshire to hold the first presidential primary (excluding caucuses), New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (R) said he would ensure the state holds its primary first. This would violate DNC rules and result in fewer delegates at the national convention. However, consequences for violating New Hampshire’s primary law are unclear, so it may be possible for state parties to run and fund their own primary contests on a separate date.
- Nevada: The state passed a bill in 2021 changing its nominating process from a convention to a primary. The bill also requires the primary to take place on the first Tuesday in February, bringing it in line with the DNC’s proposed calendar. Depending on when Iowa and New Hampshire schedule their primaries, this calendar can work with the RNC’s schedule. It is also possible that the Nevada Republican Party could opt out of the state-funded primary and hold a caucus on a date of their choosing instead.
- Georgia: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who sets primary dates in the state, said he will not change Georgia’s primary date to comply with the DNC calendar. Raffensperger said, “This type of move would need to be equitable, take place on the same day, and ensure that no one loses delegates,” and said he might support an early Georgia primary in 2028.
- Michigan: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) recently signed a bill moving the state’s presidential primary to the date set by the DNC. But, newly passed state laws don’t take effect until 90 days after a legislative session ends. For the law to take effect in time for the 2024 primaries, the state legislature would have to adjourn early. Republicans would not be permitted to hold a primary on a separate date, though they could hold a party-sponsored caucus or convention on a separate date.
Georgia and New Hampshire, the only two states in the DNC’s new early primary line-up that haven’t yet demonstrated they can move their primaries, have until June 2023 to show the DNC they can change their primary dates and receive an early primary waiver.
Learn more about the 2024 presidential calendar at the link below.
St. Louis will hold first primaries for downsized Board of Aldermen on March 7
The city of St. Louis, Missouri, is holding Board of Aldermen primary elections for all 14 seats and the president’s seat on March 7. The general election is April 4.
The 2023 election will be the first to take place under a new voter-approved system that reduced the number of seats on the board from 28 to 14. Separately, voters also approved another set of changes that made elections open and nonpartisan for mayor, comptroller, president of the Board of Aldermen, and the Board of Aldermen. The primary election system also changed from plurality voting to approval voting, a voting system in which voters may vote for any number of candidates they choose. In St. Louis, the top two candidates in the primary will advance to the general election.
The Board of Aldermen is the city’s primary legislative body (aka, city council) It is responsible for adopting the city budget, levies taxes, and makes city laws, policies, and ordinances. The President of the Board presides over board meetings.
As a result of the reduction in the size of the board, four wards—the 4th, 9th, 13th, and 14th—have multiple incumbents running against each other this year. Two wards—Ward 6 and Ward 7— are open, meaning no incumbents are running.
Ten current members of the board are not seeking re-election.
The city of St. Louis is also holding a general election for a seat on the community college board on April 4.
Learn more about Board of Aldermen elections, including the candidates, at the link below.
Two state lawmakers have changed parties this year
On Feb. 12, New Jersey state Sen. Sam Thompson, a Republican, announced he would seek re-election as a Democrat, becoming the second state legislator this year to change party affiliation. On Jan. 10, South Carolina state Sen. Mia McLeod (I) announced she was leaving the Democratic Party and becoming an independent.
Thompson, who previously served as a Republican in the New Jersey General Assembly, won election to the state Senate in 2011. His party affiliation change means that Democrats will increase their majority in the state Senate from 24-16 to 25-15.
State legislators rarely change parties—Ballotpedia has tracked 166 party changes since 1994. There are 7,386 state legislative districts throughout the country, meaning that, in any given year, less than one percent of lawmakers change parties. The most common change has been Democrats switching to become Republicans. Of the 166 changes, 78 fall into that category. Twenty-three Republican state lawmakers switched to become Democrats.
The largest number of changes since 1994 came in 2010, when 27 legislators changed their party affiliations. During that year, 25 Democrats switched to become Republicans and one Democrat and one Republican switched to become independents. No incumbents switched to become Democrats.
The charts below show the number of changes over time since 2005. The first has the number of legislators who changed to the party shown. The second has the number of legislators who changed from the party shown.
To learn more about incumbent legislators who changed their party affiliations, click the link below.