March 16, 2022
Chairman, Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Dear Chairman Harrison:
The Democratic Party performs best when it succeeds in engaging new voters representing the future of our country. The selection of additional early primary states in 2006 that better represented the diversity of the nation and our party was a prudent acknowledgment of the need for this kind of engagement. In that spirit, I write today to ask you to consider making New Jersey one of the first presidential primary states as the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee considers modernizing its primary calendar.
Moving to a new, modernized presidential nominating system would send a strong message that the Democratic Party is focused not on the past, but on the future. Our party cannot cling to outdated traditions that do not help us reach new voters and motivate the diverse coalition of supporters needed to win elections and enact our pro-middle class agenda.
New Jersey has everything that our party needs to fulfill this important role. Our state is noteworthy for its compact size as the fourth-smallest state in the nation, which would save candidates valuable travel time and resources and encourage the kind of retail campaigning that has always been a hallmark of the Democratic presidential primary process.
New Jersey is as diverse as any state in the nation, with a population that is 15% Black, 10% Asian American, and 21% Latino – proportions that are significantly higher among registered Democrats voting in a primary. Our Latino community is particularly diverse, with large populations ranging from recent immigrants to first, second, and third-generation residents whose ancestry can be traced back to countries and regions such as Cuba, Central America, South America, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and
Mexico, among others. As the home of Ellis Island, New Jersey also has a long and storied tradition of welcoming immigrants throughout our history. This striking level of diversity makes New Jersey truly representative of the Democratic Party and the current and future American electorate.
New Jersey also has a unique degree of geographic diversity. We are widely considered to be one of the most suburban states in the nation, but are also home to some of the most densely populated municipalities in the country, in addition to rural communities in Northwest and South Jersey. No other state affords its residents the opportunity to wake up in a city, spend the day hiking on a rural trail or mountain, and then enjoy an oceanfront view for dinner the way that New Jersey does — making our state the ideal proving ground for political candidates across urban, suburban, and rural settings. In many ways, we are truly a microcosm of the country.
New Jersey also embodies many of our party’s core values. We are a proud union state with over 600,000 active union members representing over 16% of New Jersey’s workforce, a significantly higher percentage than the national average of 10%. Our party has been proud to partner with unions like the American Federation of Teachers; New Jersey Education Association; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Building and Construction
Trades, SEIU, and many other labor groups. We are also a proudly pro-choice and pro-LGBTQI rights state that unabashedly believes that we must protect everyone’s reproductive rights and serve as a welcoming home for all.
A longtime primary state, New Jersey has come a long way in making voting easier and more convenient. Through the leadership of Governor Phil Murphy, Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, and our Legislature, New Jersey has expanded access to vote by mail, implemented automatic voter registration, enacted online voter registration, instituted in-person early voting, restored voting rights to individuals on probation, and parole, and taken many other steps to strengthen our democracy.
Beyond New Jersey’s many unique attributes, we also hold meaningful political relevance. New Jersey lies at the center of our party’s efforts to protect our majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, with four frontline incumbent Democrats whose victories are critical to that mission. Our state is home to many suburban voters who have been driven away from the Republican Party by Trumpism and are now helping the Democratic Party achieve a governing majority, as well as many progressive grassroots advocates who have taken an active role in protecting our democracy through civic engagement. We also hold the distinction of being one of the few states that conduct off-year gubernatorial elections, making us a national bellwether that often signals coming political tides.
It is time for the Democratic Party to move boldly into the future with a presidential primary calendar that reflects the diversity of our party and nation. Let’s make New Jersey one of the first primary states, and set up future Democratic Party presidential nominees for long-term success.