Shaheen, Hassan Sit Out White House Ball Over NH Primary Decision
Political reaction to the Democratic National Committee's decision to strip New Hampshire of the first presidential primary continued Monday night by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan and Rep. Chris Pappas when they skipped a major Washington social event.
The three declined to attend the White House Congressional Ball to boycott approval of the 2024 presidential primary schedule suggested by President Joe Biden, which makes New Hampshire second behind South Carolina.
Shaheen's office said that Biden's primary schedule makes Democrats in New Hampshire, from the top to the bottom of the ticket, vulnerable in 2024.
“This did not have to be a mutually exclusive decision. He could have advanced a more diverse state to an earlier date, while maintaining New Hampshire as the first primary election. Instead, New Hampshire Republicans were gifted the political fodder they’ve been waiting for to target Democrats and dissuade Independents from backing Democrats in pivotal local, state, and federal elections," Shaheen spokeswoman Sarah Weinstein said in a statement.
Hassan spokeswoman Laura Epstein confirmed for Seacoast Current that the Senator did not attend. Pappas also was not present, according to spokeswoman Kristen Morris.
"Senator Hassan did not attend the ball given the President’s decision on the primary. She will continue to fight for New Hampshire’s First in the Nation Primary," Epstein said.
Pappas, Kuster Also Invited to the Ball
New Hampshire Democratic Reps. Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster were on an official list of expected attendees released by the White House Monday night. On Tuesday morning, Pappas' office did not respond to Seacoast Current's inquiry about whether or not he went to the gala.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the primary schedule Monday afternoon at a press briefing.
"Joe Biden was very clear that, to him, respecting our diversity as a nation and breaking down barriers for our people is a fundamental principle," Jean-Pierre said. "You've seen him do that throughout his almost two years in administration, making sure that we see the diversity within his administration that is represented clearly across the country. And he wants to honor those values."
The DNC also demanded the state party to submit signed letters by January 5, 2023, from Gov. Chris Sununu and the House and Senate majority leaders, promising they will eliminate the state law requiring New Hampshire's primary to be first.
Gov. Chris Sununu told WMUR on Monday that won't be happening.
"If it weren't so serious, it would be an absolute joke," Sununu said.
The state party will likely continue to schedule its primary as first, but could face political fallout from their decision to buck the national party.
NOTE: This story was updated to include that Rep. Chris Pappas did not attend the event.