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Midwestern Democrat voices concern over Iowa possibly losing front-runner status on 2024 calendar

By Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos of Illinois voiced concerns Sunday with Iowa potentially losing its status as the first state to vote in the presidential nominating process following a proposal by President Joe Biden to reshape the 2024 calendar.

The rule-making arm of the Democratic National Committee voted Friday voted to approve a plan that would make South Carolina the first state to hold a primary, followed by other early-voting states of Nevada, New Hampshire, Georgia and Michigan. The proposal needs to be approved at a full DNC meeting, and states will still need to set their own primary dates.

Such a shake-up would strip Iowa of the first-in-the-nation status it has held since 1972.

Bustos, who is from the Quad Cities area that includes both Iowa and Illinois and represents a district that borders the Hawkeye State, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that the “bad” part of the proposal starts with the economic impact it would have on Iowa.

“The other thing is, do you think a presidential candidate is going to care about ethanol? Or care about farm country as deeply as they do now because Iowa was always that first state for the caucuses?” said Bustos, who is retiring next month after five terms in the House.

“So that’s the kind of thing that concerns me. I’ve got close to 10,000 family farms in the congressional district I represent. So it’s more about: What issues are going to take a back seat because of this? That is a concern I have,” she added.

Asked by Tapper if Biden was “stabbing the Midwest in the back” with the proposed change to Iowa’s status, Bustos said he wasn’t, pointing to the inclusion of Michigan, a Midwestern state that she said “better exemplifies the make-up of our country.”

Iowa’s first-in-the-nation status came under scrutiny after the chaos of the 2020 Iowa caucuses received widespread backlash. Additionally, there has been pressure on the Democratic side to oust Iowa from its top slot because it is largely White and no longer considered a battleground state.

But enacting the new dates on the 2024 Democratic nominating calendar could prove a steep challenge, as primary dates are set at the state level and each state has a different process.

Lawmakers in Iowa have also made their displeasure with the proposal clear. The state’s junior senator, Republican Joni Ernst, told Fox News on Sunday that “Democrats have really given middle America the middle finger.”

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