Maryland’s top Democrat has urged party officials to give her state a leading role in selecting the next president, telling a Democratic National Committee meeting in Washington, DC, on Thursday that if it’s diversity they are looking for, they need look no further.
Playing off Maryland’s status as “America in Miniature” and its robust racial and ethnic diversity, Democratic state chairwoman Yvette Lewis delivered a forceful speech to the DNC Rules and Regulations Committee, which held an all-day meeting downtown.
“Maryland is the most diverse state on the east coast,” Lewis said. “In a party that touts its inclusivity as a big tent party, our state is the most symbolic of that.”
Less than half of all Marylanders identify as white, according to the latest census.
The national party is seeking to revamp its presidential primary and caucus roster, which currently includes longtime lead states Iowa and New Hampshire, as well as relative newcomers Nevada and South Carolina. that were added to add Latino and black voters to the mix. Iowa and New Hampshire are among the least diverse states in the country. Their place at the top of the White House selection process has long drawn criticism.
Iowa could be replaced by another Midwestern state due to the computer incident that delayed the release of the 2020 Iowa presidential caucus results by days, a huge embarrassment for the traditional kingmaker.
More than a dozen states are vying with Maryland to become the “fifth state” in the often decisive initial phase of the campaign.
Lewis noted that Maryland’s congressional delegation and General Assembly are dominated by Democrats and she touted her party’s aggressive reach toward blacks, Latinos and LGBTQ people., Asian-American residents, veterans, women, disabled, and workers.
She said if any of the Democratic gubernatorial tickets running in the primary win in November, it will make gender and/or race and ethnicity history. “We’re going to raise our national profile with this upcoming election and that’s exactly the look the Democratic Party should have going into a national election.”
Lewis also said Maryland has been an “export state” in recent cycles, sending volunteers to purple states to help elect Democrats.
DNC officials thoroughly probed Maryland’s bid to become an early primary state, asking questions about the cost of advertising on local television and whether the state party would make its voter records available to campaigns. at a reasonable price.
Lewis described state broadcasters based in Baltimore and DC as politically tuned. “Earned media is in abundance,” she said. “You can get earned media for just about anything. So any contestant in financial difficulty can still have the opportunity to get earned media.
She said any White House hopeful looking to do well in Maryland must be comfortable campaigning in rural, suburban and urban areas — skills that would be invaluable as the contest progresses.
“The very skills and messages you are honing in different parts of my state will serve you well in other parts of the country,” she said. “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere.”
Lewis suggested that if Donald Trump had been forced to campaign in Maryland in 2016, the state’s strong presence of politically savvy federal workers would have belied many of his claims, such as the idea that Mexico would pay for an American-made wall on its border.
In a not-so-subtle dig in Iowa, former Maryland secretary of state John McDonough said state election officials have a history of reporting election results quickly.
Although Maryland made its presentation to the DNC late in the afternoon, after more than a dozen other states had already spoken, several panel members praised Lewis for his forceful sales pitch.
The DNC is expected to set its 2024 primaries and caucuses schedule later this summer.