Could Tennessee’s presidential primary be first in 2024?


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) —Could Tennessee one day be first in the country for presidential primaries?

A state Democratic lawmaker plans to introduce a bill Wednesday morning that would do just that, but there are plenty of hurdles to make it happen.

Rep. Jason Powell hopes to make January 2nd, 2024 the next time that Tennesseans would vote in a presidential primary.

“If we became the first state in the country to vote first, we would get a lot more attention from these candidates showing a lot more interest in Tennessee,” said Rep. Powell Wednesday a few hours before he and Senate sponsor Raumesh Akbari held a news conference on their proposed bill.

Both think its time Tennessee moves its presidential primary to first after more talk this year that Iowa and New Hampshire do not reflect the voter makeup of the country, but the lawmakers know its ultimately up to committees of the national parties–the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC).

“I think that states like Tennessee, if we go first and set this date, then the RNC and the DNC are going to revisit and you already know that they are going to have to revisit because of the complete disaster the Iowa caucuses were this year,” added Rep. Powell.

New Hampshire has a law that says the state goes a week before any other presidential primary, but the Tennessee date of January 2nd would make the New Hampshire primary around Christmas.

The state’s Republican Party chair Scott Golden calls the presidential primary bill an “interesting concept.”

“I think there are going to be a lot of states that are exploring how to break–let’s just call it the franchise–that Iowa and New Hampshire had had for 75 years,” says Golden.”

The national parties have threatened to cut the all-important delegates a state has if there are unapproved changes to the date for a presidential primary.

Tennessee’s Democratic Party tells News 2 that they do not support the bill:

The TNDP does not support this bill. The DNC sets the rules and schedule for presidential primary dates. In previous years, when other states have violated the rules by leapfrogging the set schedule, they have been penalized by losing all their delegates, leaving their voters with no voice at the national level. The TNDP will continue to partner with the DNC and discuss any problems, and potential changes to address these problems, directly with their office.

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