Iowa and New Hampshire shouldn’t vote first anymore, says former DNC chair Tom Perez: ‘The status quo is clearly unacceptable.’

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), (R), greets DNC Chairman Tom Perez, (L) on stage as he gets ready to speak to a crowd of supporters at a Democratic unity rally at the Rail Event Center on April 21, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Former DNC chair Tom Perez said his party should change how it votes for a presidential nominee.
  • “The status quo is clearly unacceptable,” Perez said in an interview with The New York Times.
  • Perez said a more diverse state or set of states should vote before either Iowa or New Hampshire.
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Democrats cannot keep voting like it’s 1972, according to former party chairman Tom Perez, who said it’s time to let others go first when it comes time to select a presidential nominee.

“The status quo is clearly unacceptable,” Perez, who headed the Democratic National Committee during the 2020 nomination process, said in an interview published Sunday by The New York Times.

For nearly 50 years, Iowa has been the first state to weigh in on who should lead the Democrats into the general election, followed soon after by New Hampshire. In 1972, that was a progressive reform: Previously, party elites made the choice with little direct input from their party’s voters.

But both states are overwhelmingly white, far more so than the general public and the Democratic electorate in particular.

“A diverse state or states need to be first,” Perez said. “The difference between going first and going third is really important. We know the importance of momentum in Democratic primaries.”

In 2020, the Iowa caucuses were narrowly won by now-Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders taking New Hampshire. Sanders also won the next state, Nevada, the first with a significant population of color.

However, it wasn’t until the fourth contest, in South Carolina, that a state with a large Black population voted. That state was won by President Joe Biden.

“This is the Democratic Party of 2020,” Perez said. “It’s different from the Democratic Party in how we were in 1972. And we need to reflect that change. And so I am confident that the status quo is not going to survive.”

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