Minnesota DFL's pitch to win early presidential primary features Prince, voter turnout pride

Minnesota Democrats appealed to their national party Thursday in hopes of winning one of the early dates in the 2024 presidential primary process.

A delegation that included DFL Chairman Ken Martin, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, and Secretary of State Steve Simon walked out to Prince's "Let's Go Crazy." Then, they took turns promoting Minnesota's growing diversity, first-in-the-nation ranking for voter turnout, and its snow removal capabilities.

"Minnesota’s not only up to the challenge, that we can deliver, and we can make sure this candidate that comes out of this early state process is battle tested, ready for prime time, and going to win in the fall," Martin told the Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws committee.

The DNC is considering how to reshape the early nominating contests - currently held in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina - in time for the next presidential race.

Thirteen states and Puerto Rico took turns making their 15-minute pitches on Thursday and Friday. A decision on the winning states is planned for early August.

Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Iowa have applied for what is likely to be a single Midwest slot. Iowa's bid seems unlikely given the state's delayed 2020 caucus results, which frustrated the campaigns that poured months of time and large amounts of money into the state.

Wisconsin has jointly endorsed Minnesota and Michigan, while South Dakota has thrown its support to Minnesota.

If Minnesota secures one of the early primary dates, it will give voters significant power to shape the 2024 race. Early states have months in the national spotlight as candidates make repeated trips to diners and county fairs.

But the Minnesota DFL faces a significant hurdle: state law requires both party chairs to agree to move the primary date. Thursday, Minnesota GOP Chairman David Hann declined to comment through a spokesman.

Former Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty endorsed the date change this week along with other former GOP elected officials. Nonetheless, the lack of final agreement led to questions from DNC members at Thursday's meeting.

"I’m convinced that we’ll be able to get them there," Martin said. "This is not just good for the Democratic party in Minnesota, it’s good for the Republican party, and frankly, it’s good for all Minnesota voters regardless of their political persuasion."

Minnesota law requires early voting to start 46 days before an election, meaning that voting could begin in late December 2023 for a presidential primary in February 2024.

A DNC member from Nevada raised concerns about the amount of snow that falls during a Minnesota winter. The DFL delegation promoted the state's snow removal capabilities while dismissing the concern, saying weather hasn't stopped voters or candidates in the past.