New Hampshire Democrats are vowing to fight their party’s plan to rearrange the order of voting in the primaries, describing the decision as ‘deeply misguided’ and unworkable.
New Hampshire has held the first-in-the-nation primary since 1920, and Iowa has held its caucus on the same day since 1972.
But on Saturday, the Democratic National Committee voted to alter the schedule, making South Carolina first and putting New Hampshire and Nevada three days later. Iowa’s new date has not been announced.
The decision was made, DNC officials said, to better reflect the demographic of the nation, and end a process whereby two overwhelmingly white states held such sway. South Carolina, with a large African American population, and strongly Hispanic Nevada were more representative of modern America, the DNC argued.
But New Hampshire Democrats have reacted with fury to their demotion – and argued it violates state law.
Maggie Hassan, a Democrat senator for New Hampshire, is among those voicing anger at the plan, approved on Saturday, to end the state’s ‘first in the nation’ primary voting position
‘Our First in the Nation Primary makes our entire country & democracy stronger,’ tweeted Maggie Hassan, senator for the state.
She pointed out that New Hampshire’s state law guarantees its position as first in the nation, so said that New Hampshire would simply ignore the DNC schedule. The DNC could then impose penalties.
In the past, states attempting to jump ahead have risked losing delegates to the national party convention, discouraging presidential candidates from spending time campaigning in them.
Hassan continued: ‘Regardless of the DNC vote, New Hampshire will go first.
‘The DNC’s primary proposal asks us to violate our state law & puts Democrats’ future success in our state at risk—it is deeply misguided.’
Ray Buckley, the chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, issued a statement vowing to contest Saturday’s decision.
‘Despite today’s vote, the fight is not over,’ he said.
‘As we have repeatedly pointed out, New Hampshire law requires us to hold the first-in-the-nation primary, and state Republican leaders have made clear that will not change.’
Buckley said that his state – which has two Democrat senators at present, but a Republican governor and Republicans having a slim majority in the state legislature – could swing Republican, amid anger at the demotion.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris stand on stage with DNC chair Jaime Harrison at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting on Friday
On Saturday, members of the Democratic National Committee will vote on a new primary calendar that moves South Carolina’s contest ahead of New Hampshire, a move that has New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley (right) worried
‘We remain extremely concerned about the effects this calendar will have on our purple, crucial battleground state,’ he said.
‘We were proud to deliver our four Electoral College votes to President Biden in 2020.
‘Next year, those four votes can be the difference between sending President Biden back to the White House or ceding it to Republicans.’
The group of Democratic politicians who comprise the New Hampshire delegation at the meeting took a swipe at Biden, accusing him and the DNC of pushing ‘a plan of political convenience’ – a likely reference to the 2020 primary, when his massive win in South Carolina boosted his campaign ahead of important races in other states, despite a weak showing in New Hampshire.
‘No matter what party powerbrokers or those in Washington think, New Hampshire will once again host our first-in-the-nation contest as we have done for more than a century,’ they wrote.
Joanne Dowdell, a DNC member speaking on behalf of New Hampshire, told the convention on Saturday that it was being presented as a false decision.
‘Respecting our state law and lifting up diverse voices need not be mutually exclusive,’ she said.
And Chris Sununu, the centrist Republican governor of New Hampshire, echoed his Democratic colleagues’ concern.
Chirs Sununu, the Republican governor of New Hampshire, said he too opposes the DNC move
‘Joe Biden and the power brokers at the @DNC in Washington think New Hampshire’s time is up, but it’s not in our DNA to take orders from Washington,’ he said.
‘New Hampshire will be going first in 2024.’
Iowans were also angered – although their dismay was perhaps less troubling for Democrat leaders, given the state’s resoundingly red status.
Rita Hart, the newly-elected chairwoman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said Iowa had been put in an ‘impossible’ position of choosing between the DNC rules and its state laws.
She also said the changes ‘feed the narrative that Democrats have turned their backs on Iowa and on rural America.’
‘Iowans value common sense, and it just doesn’t make sense to entirely remove representation from rural Midwestern states in the pre-window,’ Hart said.
Scott Brennan, a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, said he opposed the new calendar ‘from a genuine concern that the proposed calendar and the vast uncertainty surrounding it cannot be resolved in a timely manner.’
At its annual meeting in Philadelphia, the Democratic National Committee approved a new primary calendar – backed by Biden – that will see South Carolina hold its 2024 presidential primary first on February 3.
That will be followed by Nevada and New Hampshire on February 6; Georgia on February 13 and then Michigan on February 27.
‘The Democratic Party looks like America and so does this proposal,’ said Jaime Harrison, Democratic Party Chairman, ahead of the vote – adding it ‘elevates the backbone of our party.’
Republicans will keep their New Hampshire primary calendar date; Donald Trump campaigned in Salem, N.H., on Saturday
But it also benefits Biden, who, in the 2020 primary, came in fifth in New Hampshire.
His victory in South Carolina – thanks to black voters who flocked to his side after he was endorsed by influential black Rep. Jim Clyburn – saved his presidential bid and put him on the path to winning the nomination.
Biden has not formally announced his re-election but is expected to do so in the new few months. He has given signals he intends to seek a second term.
The new calendar faces challenges, however, and is not guaranted to be ultimately enacted as designed.
Republicans have no intention of changing their order – meaning Iowa and New Hampshire will still hold the first contests on the GOP side.
States with early contests have a major influence in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out within the first five contests.
Donald Trump has already started campaigning in New Hampshire, appearing at an event there on Saturday. Nikki Haley will launch her own campaign to be the Republican nominee this week, and then travel to New Hampshire and Iowa.
Republicans have no intention of demoting Iowa and New Hampshire from their ‘first in the nation’ status.