New Hampshire Democrats Defy Biden, DNC Ultimatum To Ditch “First-In-Nation Primary Status

 September 2, 2023

Upending Biden's 2024 Democratic calendar, New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, is likely to move up the date of the state's presidential primary. In fact, Friday marks the deadline for New Hampshire to come into compliance with the Democratic National Committee's new presidential nominating calendar and it pretty clear that New Hampshire won't be complying.

In early February, the DNC overwhelmingly voted to dramatically alter the top of its presidential nominating calendar for the 2024 election cycle, bumping Iowa and New Hampshire from their longtime leadoff positions. The party appears far from implementing its revamped primary schedule and seemingly there's no resolution with New Hampshire or Iowa.

New Hampshire has not responded well to the DNC upending the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary position. Reportedly, a sign outside the state capital building in Concord, New Hampshire, spotlights the state's treasured position for the past century in holding the leadoff presidential primary. It reads in part,…“The New Hampshire primary has become a critical first step in the road to the White House” …

This summer, longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said -

"Granite Staters appreciate and respect the responsibility of the over 100-year tradition of the First in the Nation New Hampshire primary. They understand New Hampshire has a special place in the history of American politics and their place in it. We look forward to continuing that tradition here next year, and in the years to come,"

-New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley

Vigorously opposed in New Hampshire, which for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House, has been the push by the DNC to upend its primary calendar, to better reflect Black and Hispanic voters in the early primary contests. Tradition does not seem to concern the DNC.  Buckley himself reportedly called the national party's move "mind-boggling" and a "self-inflicted wound" that would hurt the chances of Democratic candidates in 2024 in the key northeastern general election battleground state.

For years now however, Democrats have knocked both Iowa and New Hampshire as unrepresentative of the party as a whole, for being largely White with few major urban areas. Alternatively, Nevada and South Carolina which have voted third and fourth on the calendar, claim much more diversity, than either Iowa or New Hampshire. As such the new calendar was proposed by President Biden.

The result was that the DNC overwhelmingly approved to move South Carolina to the lead position, with a Feb. 3, 2024, primary. New Hampshire and Nevada are scheduled to hold primaries three days later, followed by Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan two weeks later. The president and supporters of the plan have

Arguing that it would empower minority voters, whom Democrats have long relied on but have at times taken for granted, the president and his supporters vied for the change. DNC chair Jaime Harrison said earlier this year-

"This committee put together a calendar proposal that reflects our values and will strengthen our party. This calendar does what is long overdue. It expands the number of voices in the early window. And it elevates diverse communities that are at core of the Democratic Party,"

-DNC chair Jaime Harrison

Implementing the calendar, however, has been anything but easy. In fact, Biden faces potential headaches in New Hampshire early next year if he stays off the primary ballot due to an unsanctioned presidential contest.

South Carolina Democrats agree, but the state’s Republicans will hold their primary later in February. Nevada Democrats are game, but their GOP, is now aiming to hold a Republican presidential caucus two days later. And totally rebuffing the DNC, Georgia's Republican secretary of state, this spring, set the state's primary date for May 12 of next year.

Reportedly, Iowa, which was left out of the DNC's early voting states calendar, is still looking for ways to remain the leadoff contest without violating party rules. Then there’s New Hampshire, which has a nearly half-century-old law that mandates that it hold the first presidential primary, a week ahead of any similar contest. What a nightmare.

Effectively, the DNC extended an earlier deadline until Sept. 1 for New Hampshire to come into compliance or face getting removed from the early state window for the 2024 cycle. This would require New Hampshire to scrap its state law protecting its first-in-the-nation primary status and must expand access to early voting. But with Republicans in control of New Hampshire’s governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature, state Democrats have repeatedly argued that’s a non-starter.

Until Sept. 14, when the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee meets, the matter remains in stasis. New Hampshire's primary status will be sure to be on the agenda. Then under DNC penalties passed last year, if New Hampshire is eventually ruled non-compliant, the state could lose half of its delegates to next summer's Democratic presidential nominating convention.

President Biden will likely stay off the ballot in New Hampshire, to avoid an unsanctioned primary, with New Hampshire nearly certain to move up the date of its contest.  And with Biden’s two primary challengers, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson taking aim at Biden and the DNC, as they repeatedly campaign in New Hampshire, this could mean trouble for the president in the Granite State’s primary.

In a statement, Buckley predicted earlier this year.-

"President Biden will not file for election in the New Hampshire primary, which will still go first,"… "This will set him up, we believe, for an embarrassing situation where the first primary in the country will be won by someone other than the president. This will only fuel chatter of about Democrats divisions."

-New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley

The 80-year-old Biden has faced plenty of concerns from Democrats over his age and physical and mental stamina, and his approval ratings among all Americans have remained in negative territory for nearly two years. But most Democrats argue that any potential setbacks in unsanctioned contests in New Hampshire or Iowa won’t sidetrack Biden’s expected overwhelming re-nomination.

“A bully is nothing more than a bunch of bull with a Y attached to its rear.”

-Lorin Morgan-Richards
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