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Move Aside, Iowa: Bill Seeks To Make Tennessee The First Presidential Contest In 2024

Sergio Martinez-Beltran

A new bill by two Democrats would make Tennesseans to be the first in the nation to cast a ballot in a presidential contest in 2024.

The sponsors of the bill (HB2511/SB2815) claim that Tennessee is better qualified to be a so-called early state.

Currently, the state has its presidential primaries during Super Tuesday. That’s typically a month after the caucus in Iowa, a state that is predominantly white. That lack of diversity is one of the reasons why Sen. Raumesh Akbari, D-Memphis, wants Tennesseans to vote first.

“The presidential primary is too important, and it is something that should have diverse input,” Akbari told reporters Tuesday. “Tennessee is certainly more diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire.”

The proposal aims to set a primary in Tennessee on the first Tuesday of January. In 2024, that would be on Jan. 2.

Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, said that the technology issues in this year’s Iowa Caucus has made the case that other states should try to go first.

“I firmly believe that no state should have a monopoly on this very important process,” Powell said.

Powell said this move would have a positive economic impact in Tennessee. It would also give the state more influence in choosing the next presidential nominee.

It’s unclear how many Republicans support the bill.

Other states have also talked about moving up their primaries, including New Mexico. But the national parties would need to weigh in before a change is made.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.
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