CHICAGO — Politicians fanned out across the state on the final weekend of the 2022 general election campaign, led by President Joe Biden who spoke in Joliet on Saturday amid concerns that a Republican surge on Election Day could cost Democrats control of both Illinois’ political agenda and Congress. Biden’s decision to visit what has been a reliably blue state, along with a scheduled trip to Chicago by Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday, underscored the belief that races across the ballot have tightened ahead of Tuesday’s election. On Saturday, Biden campaigned for two-term Rep. Lauren Und...
Stories Chosen For You
Biden proposed this overhaul of the DNC’s nominating process, which will now see South Carolina Democrats—including many Black voters credited with breathing new life into then-candidate Biden’s ailing 2020 campaign— take the lead in picking the party’s standard bearer every four years. Three days later, both New Hampshire and Nevada Democrats take their turns. The following week now goes to Georgia voters who have proven all-important in general elections, even as their presidential preferences haven’t mattered as much. Then Michigan voters will cast their ballots the following week.
The reshuffling of the DNC’s primary map is already causing identity crises in these storied early-voting states, while it also promises an interparty battle yet to come because New Hampshire state law requires its residents vote first in presidential primaries.
Still, the changes have been a long time coming.
“It's been a 30-year odyssey,” Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) told Raw Story at the Capitol. “I think that what the president did shows that he knows that any road to the White House goes through the heartland of America. We’ve fought for years that no one state should have a lock on going first.”
Dingell and other Michiganders, including the tenacious late Sen. Carl Levin, have been tirelessly calling to upend the traditional primary map since the nineties. In 2016, these midwestern critics—along with their coastal allies who have never felt represented by Iowa or New Hampshire voters—started to be taken more seriously after Hillary Clinton lost Michigan to Donald Trump by a mere 10,704 votes.
The calls became a resounding chorus after Iowa bungled its 2020 caucuses. Unable to announce a winner on election night, the state—and the Democratic Party—became a national punchline. It didn’t help their cause when Republicans swept all four of Iowa’s House seats, along with its four key statewide races, in this year’s midterms.
The new strategy isn’t about punishing the old guard, Dingell argues, but about making the primary process more representative, diverse, and impactful by bringing the voters who matter most in the general election into the process early. It’s also about changing the conversation.
“You saw what happened in Nevada, where it was a competitive state. We’re watching Georgia play out. And Michigan’s a purple state that has the diversity of the country,” Dingell said. “We need presidential primary candidates to have to campaign and talk about issues that are the issues that decide the election in November.”
Over in Nevada, Democrats are (somewhat quietly) smarting from what many see as a snub from the party bosses, because if they want diversity, welcome to Nevada. The state witnessed a 6.2% spike on the Census Bureau’s Diversity Index from 2010-2020. Who can argue with that data?
“I’m for a more diverse reflection of the primary calendar. That's why I believe Nevada should be first in the nation,” Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV) told Raw Story at the Capitol on Thursday, “based on the diversity and the importance of having our voices heard early in the process.”
At this point, it doesn’t seem like there’s much more Nevada—or the other states and territories who lobbied for more prominent spots—can do.
Biden’s overhaul has been approved by the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, and it still needs the approval of the entire DNC. But, after a decades-long fight, these voices of change in the DNC feel they’ve already overcome their biggest obstacles. Now they’re eager to watch their blueprint for a more in-tune and responsive Democratic Party be erected.
As for opponents and protesters? Democratic party leaders are, once again, promising to strip convention delegates from any state that jumps ahead of their party-mandated calendar slot.
Even so, New Hampshire Democrats say they’re constrained by their own state law—and a lot of nostalgic state pride. That means the politically-trodden northeastern state—whose general elections are always hotly contested by both parties—is now set on a collision course with Biden and his DNC.
“We have a law that we will abide by that sets us first, so we're going to stick to what our constituents want,” Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH) told reporters just off the House floor on Friday. “We will abide by New Hampshire law.”
On Friday, Newsweek analyzed how Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) could be on the brink of losing their status as the Senate's most powerful members.
"Both notably denied Democrats' efforts to overturn Republicans' blockade of their party's sweeping reforms to the country's election laws, drawing scorn from their president and their party," wrote Nick Reynolds. "Manchin used his vote to strong-arm both into concessions for a natural gas pipeline in his home state in a massive domestic spending bill earlier this year (he later pulled that bill under bipartisan pressure) and has had a prolonged flirtation with the Republican Party, going as far as attending events with Republican donors in red states like Texas. And Sinema, labeled by Time magazine in one article as 'Republicans' Favorite Democrat,' has used her position in the middle to cut deals across the aisle as well as within her own party, which regularly found itself at the negotiating table with her to broker legislation that could get to 50 votes."
All of this was possible because Democrats controlled the Senate with exactly 50 seats, requiring unanimous cooperation from the party and Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote to pass anything on a purely partisan basis — leaving the two most conservative Democrats as gatekeepers.
However, on Tuesday, if voters re-elect Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), as polls suggest is more likely than not, Democrats will be bumped up to a 51-seat majority — and that means they will only need one of the two to pass legislation, not both.
"Manchin, one of Congress' most conservative Democrats, still votes with President Joe Biden's position 89 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight; Sinema votes the party line 95 percent of the time," said the report. "And beyond the recent spending packages, both senators have unique priorities and their own agendas, rarely voting as a bloc. If the pair do find themselves in a situation where they can throw their weight around, it will be a challenge. Especially with one more vote to contend with."
There is also a chance that this will be the last session of Congress with either senator. Both face re-election in 2024. Manchin represents West Virginia, a state former President Donald Trump carried by over 40 points; Sinema, meanwhile, has high disapproval from Democratic voters in Arizona, and Rep. Ruben Gallego has put out strong hints of mounting a primary challenge against her.
According to the letter, Ingram's assistant emailed a Trump Interior Department official on May 25, 2018, attaching two articles arguing for the Hammonds to be pardoned. On July 1, a Republican lawmaker who supported the Hammonds tweeted that Trump was "seriously considering" pardoning them.
One day later, Ingram made his donation, and just over a week after that Trump announced he was pardoning the Hammonds.
"Mr. Ingram made only one other $10,000 donation during the 2017-2018 nonpresidential election cycle," wrote Grijalva and Porter. "That donation was the subject of the committee's criminal referral regarding the Villages at Vigneto development [in Arizona]. In that case, Ingram and 12 other individuals, many of whom maintained personal or professional relationships with Ingram, donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the Trump Victory Fund and the Republican National Committee on the same day or within just a few days that a major federal action regarding Vigneto was made in Ingram's favor."
"The parallels between the Vigneto case and the Hammonds' pardons raise significant concerns about another potential case of bribery under the Trump administration and warrant further investigation," they added.
On social media, Porter noted that she and Grijalva uncovered the evidence of Ingram's alleged bribe "while investigating a possible $240,000 quid pro quo scheme between the Trump administration and a developer."
"We're requesting documents to help us get to the bottom of [the Ingram case]," Porter said. "I have zero tolerance for corruption."