Washington could end up being one of the first states in the nation to hold a Democratic presidential primary in the upcoming 2024 cycle if the Democratic National Committee decides to award it a coveted spot on the nominating calendar, the Washington State Democratic Party announced today.
The party — on whose governing body I sit as a state central committeemember — will get a chance to make a formal pitch supporting its bid for an early spot on the calendar to the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee later this month. Two other states are also in the running for the western region’s spot: Colorado and Nevada, which have voted Democratic for President for several consecutive cycles.
If Washington is chosen, Democratic voters here would get a chance to influence the 2024 nomination at a very early stage for the first time in U.S. history.
Until 2020, Washington used an all-caucus system to allocate and select its national convention delegates. But last cycle, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee voted to adopt a hybrid primary + caucus delegate selection plan after the Legislature agreed to change state law to provide for a primary that fully respected the party’s First Amendment right of free assembly.
(Adoption of that legislation was one of NPI’s 2019 legislative priorities, and I was one of the state committeemembers who championed the hybrid plan.)
That hybrid plan called for the use of primary to allocate all of the convention delegates and caucuses to decide who would represent the party at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, which ended up being held mostly remotely.
The plan worked extremely well, and Washington saw record-breaking presidential primary turnout just as SARS-CoV‑2 was becoming a global public health emergency. Instead of having to spend hours in a gym or cafeteria to vote in a caucus (which would not have been feasible to stage in any case due to the coronavirus), voters were able to express a preference for who the nominee should be simply by casting a ballot sent to them by county elections officials.
A decision by the DNC to give Washington a more prominent role in the quadrennial nominating process which would be a big deal. In the event of a competitive primary, Washington would likely see more visits from presidential candidates and could host one of the debates, too. Even if President Biden runs again and faces little opposition for the nomination, Washington would still wind up getting more national attention than it has in the past.
“It is an honor to advocate for Washington on the national stage and highlight the many reasons why our state continues to be on the forefront of progressive politics not only in the West, but the entire nation,” State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said in a statement sent to media outlets.
“Washington is one of the best positioned states to run the kind of high-profile and voter-accessible nominating contest that a pre-window state requires,” Podlodowski noted last month when the party first applied. “Our state has everything a balanced nominating contest should look for: broad diversity – racially, economically, geographically, and politically – a dedicated and effective party organization and democratically-controlled government, and a shining vote-by-mail system to encourage stability and faith in the nominating process itself.”
The state’s Democratic leaders all support the bid, from Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of State Steve Hobbs to Speaker Laurie Jinkins, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, and the Democratic members of state’s congressional delegation.
The DNC will make a final decision between Washington, Colorado, and Nevada in early August, around the same time Washington holds its 2022 Top Two election.