100 days out: SC Dems aim to boost voter engagement before 1st in nation primary
The South Carolina Democratic presidential primary will be held Feb. 3, 2024.
There are 100 days to go until the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary.
And while the South Carolina GOP primary is catching all the buzz — presidential hopefuls include former Gov. Nikki Haley and Sen. Tim Scott — the state's Democratic Party chairwoman doesn't want voters to forget that the state will host not one but two elections in February.
"This (Democratic) primary is historic," Chairwoman Christale Spain told SC Public Radio. "It is the first time ever that Black voters, southern voters, rural voters get to all go first and have their voice heard."
The Democratic National Committee, chaired by South Carolinian Jaime Harrison, voted earlier this year to put South Carolina first on the Democrats' 2024 calendar, followed by Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia and Michigan.
President Joe Biden supported the plan replacing Iowa's caucus with South Carolina, where Black voters make up two-thirds of the party's voting bloc. South Carolina is also credited with giving Biden a boost to the White House in 2020 after struggles in other early-voting states.
Now, South Carolina will go first on Feb. 3, 2024. (South Carolina's Republican presidential primary will be held Feb. 24.)
Though New Hampshire has not set a January primary date, Democratic leaders there have vowed to go first, saying state law mandates it.
Earlier this week, Biden's campaign wrote a letter to the state's party chair indicating that the president would not file to be on the New Hampshire ballot. In the letter, the campaign's manager wrote, "while the president wishes to participate in the primary, he is obligated to comply" with the DNC's rules.
Until Feb. 3, Spain said Democrats will work to get South Carolinians registered to vote and get voters excited about the primary and the Biden administration's work.
"What we've been trying to do is make sure that Democrats know what the Biden-Harris administration has accomplished. They've done a lot. They've made a lot of historic accomplishments in a very short period of time," said Spain, noting, for example, the millions of dollars that have flowed through South Carolina, in part due to the federal infrastructure law.
Spain said the party also plans to hold various events across the state, attended by notable Democrats and Biden surrogates, to engage voters and build awareness.
On Saturday, Congressman Ro Khanna of California and U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will speak in Charleston at the party's Spratt Issues Conference, what will be the first of a three-part series, Spain said.
And on Nov. 18, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey will headline a Spartanburg panel on health care and abortion rights. Spain said House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries is also expected to visit the state.
Filing to get on South Carolina's Democratic presidential primary ballot opens Nov. 1 and closes Nov. 10.
Spain said anyone is welcome to file, but said the party is sticking with Biden.
In addition to Marianne Williamson, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination in 2020 but dropped out before the S.C. primary, Biden now has one other longshot challenger.
On Friday, Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips announced his 2024 bid, saying he'll file to be on New Hampshire's ballot. In remarks, Phillips complimented Biden's political tenure, but said the election was about "the future," a nod to concerns about Biden's age.
Biden is 80, and Phillips is 54.
POLITICO reported Friday that Phillips had not yet reached out to S.C. Democrats, with Spain calling that a sign "he's not serious."
Spain, speaking to SC Public Radio, also brushed aside concerns about Biden's age, and its particular impact on younger voters, saying Democrats are energized more than ever to help Biden win a second term.
"It's a complete circus on the other side, ... and we need leadership," Spain said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.