Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks to reporters at the Georgia State Capitol on December 14, 2020. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

ATLANTA – Georgia’s 2024 presidential primaries will place next March 12, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Thursday.

“Georgia is a bellwether state,” Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol, acknowledging the Peach State’s relatively new status as one of a handful of swing states in national politics. “If you can win in Georgia, you will win nationally.”

In announcing the mid-March date, Raffensperger – a Republican – rejected a recommendation by the Democratic National Committee late last year that Georgia’s presidential primaries be moved up to February, which would have made Georgia the fourth state to vote.

Democrats argued an early primary date in Georgia would have added to the diversity of the electorate during the early primaries. Iowa and New Hampshire, currently the first states to hold party caucuses or primaries, are majority white.

Emory University finance professor Thomas More Smith released a study in February that showed early primaries in Georgia could generate nearly $220 million in economic impact.

But Raffensperger said holding the Georgia primaries in mid-March, a week after multiple states vote on Super Tuesday – would work to Georgia’s advantage both politically and economically.

“We believe a March 12 date maximizes Georgia’s influence and has the greatest economic impact,” he said.

Two weeks of early voting will take place prior to the primaries.

Democrat Joe Biden easily won the party’s Georgia primary in 2020 with 75% of the vote, building on momentum from his first primary win in South Carolina. Biden then went on to become the first Democrat to carry Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992 when he narrowly defeated Republican President Donald Trump to win the state’s 16 electoral votes.

As an incumbent, Trump was unopposed in the 2020 Georgia GOP primary.