If Colorado joins the rarefied ranks of states whose primaries play an outsized role in choosing the Democratic Party’s next presidential candidate, it won’t be because Howard Chou dazzled national party officials with anything other than the strength of his arguments.
Unlike most of the state and territory Democratic delegations that showed up in Washington, D.C., last week with various combinations of senators, soundtracks and local specialties, the first vice president of the Colorado Democratic Party appeared alone, armed only with data. and a belief that Colorado belongs in the spotlight.
Chou was among party officials and political luminaries from 16 states and one territory who told the Democratic National Committee’s rules committee why they deserved to be among the first to vote in the 2024 presidential nomination process. left.
The committee voted in April to consider shuffling the states that get the top crack to pick the presidential nominee, spurred in part by concerns that the two states that have held the top spots for decades — Iowa with its caucuses and New Hampshire with its primary – aren’t diverse enough to reflect either the party as a whole or the nation’s electorate.
Difficulties and delays in tabulating results under Iowa’s complex caucus rules have helped give the impression that it might be time to mix up the contests. There also appears to be a sentiment to remove states that hold caucuses instead of primaries from early contests, as the method excludes many voters from participating.
“Presidential candidates would be better equipped to campaign in the rest of the states by listening to and learning from the different regions, people and needs of our state,” Colorado Democratic President Morgan Carroll wrote in a letter dated 5 may inform the DNC that the state intended to apply. “In many ways, we are the new model for American optimism and engagement in the political process.”
Under the current schedule, Iowa and New Hampshire are followed in February by caucuses in Nevada and a primary in South Carolina before most states begin voting in March, including Super Tuesday, which included the Colorado’s last elementary school.
States on the first existing list, which has only been in place since the 2008 presidential election, must apply and obtain approval to retain their status, along with the dozen other states and territories still in the running. Following the Rules Committee’s decision earlier this month not to advance nominations from New York, Nebraska and Democrats Abroad, the finalists are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.
The Rules Committee plans to discuss last week’s submissions on July 8, then meet again on August 5-6 to select the top four or five state slate, with the full DNC to vote on the final recommended slate early. september.
It’s part of the normal four-year process that sets the rules for delegate selection and convention, though it’s the first time in a long time that the first states are up for grabs.
Colorado hits the mark on all three criteria set forth by the DNC for “first window” status, Chou told Colorado Politics — its broad diversity, the state’s competitiveness and the feasibility of running a presidential campaign there.
“I was a strong advocate for Colorado’s diversity,” he said after the presentation. “We are a shining example of many different things.”
The state has three of the 100 most diverse cities in the nation, Chou told the committee, pointing to Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs. Aurora in particular, he noted, is one of the top cities populated by immigrants, with 20% of its residents born outside the United States and 160 languages spoken within its borders.
“I broke it down into every possible diversity I could think of, not just ethnic and cultural diversity,” he added, including economic and industrial diversity covering agriculture, manufacturing, mining mining, tourism and technology, and geographic diversity from the Eastern Plains to the Rocky Mountains. Mountains and western slope.
Additionally, Chou noted that the range of Coloradans’ training is similar to that of the country as a whole, and that the state has 20 military bases, which is roughly the national average.
While the state has had a blue streak in recent years, Chou told the committee it remains competitive because Democrats don’t outnumber Republicans much — 28% of active registered voters, down from 25% — with elections determined by the great part of the State. unaffiliated voters, or 45% of the electorate.
With one large and two small TV markets – Denver, Colorado Springs and Grand Junction – and most of the state’s population spread out in what Chou characterizes as an easily traversable T-shape, which runs up and down the Front Range and across the state on Interstate 70 from the plains to the mountains — candidates can campaign in Colorado as easily as anywhere, easily hitting the feasibility threshold, Chou said.
Importantly, the state’s prevailing political winds are more aligned with national Democratic Party leanings than many other states, Chou argued, calling Colorado an “epicenter” and “inflection point.” on key issues important to party voters, including environmental and climate concerns. , electoral integrity, and approaches to armed violence and social justice.
Chou suggested that Colorado’s recent status as a flagship state — five of the last six winning presidential candidates wore Colorado — means candidates who do well in the state have a better chance of doing well in the state. national scale.
Chou had his own turn in the spotlight two years ago when he announced the vote for Colorado delegates during the virtual roll call at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Surrounded by family members dressed in t- campaign shirts and holding signs, Chou delivered the vote in a video segment recorded at the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater in the foothills west of Denver. The Colorado delegation, he said, cast 42 votes for Joe Biden and 36 votes for Bernie Sanders, who won the state’s presidential primary on March 3, with one abstention.
While nearly every major presidential candidate has stopped in Colorado ahead of the state’s 2020 presidential primary — its first in 20 years after leaving caucus — few have spent more than a day or two in the state, and by the time mail-in votes were due, the sprawling field had narrowed to just a handful of candidates besides Biden and Sanders.
“When you bring the excitement here, you get all the applicants before people start dropping out,” Chou said.
“The people of Colorado think we’re an afterthought,” he added, comparing last cycle’s campaign season in Colorado to the strong year more than a dozen candidates spent criss-crossing the country. ‘Iowa and New Hampshire.
Chou acknowledged that some members of the rules committee might get swept up in the “romance” surrounding New Hampshire, whose snowy tableaus have featured in presidential nominations for generations, despite its lack of diversity and a sense that other states might deserve a ride.
“It’s kind of funny how quickly the whole political landscape is changing, so people using tradition as a reason for an early state is kind of questionable because those timelines have changed a lot over the years,” did he declare.
He also acknowledged that some other finalist states have as much claim to early statehood as Colorado, including Minnesota, Michigan and Georgia, various states that have become critical presidential battlegrounds in recent cycles.
“I think Colorado has a chance — and if they open it up to five states, there’s a possibility,” Chou said.
“Even though I gave them a lot of interesting data, I don’t know if they will vote on that basis. I think I made a good impression by giving them the facts. Whether the decision is based on that, it will be a any other questions.”