What’s Next for the NH Democratic Presidential Primary?
The Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee followed the recommendation of President Joe Biden by voting Friday to end New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status, and would require the state party's help to make it happen.
The rules committee will be waiting a long time for that to happen.
The committee's schedule would have South Carolina hold the first primary on February 3, 2024, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada three days later. Georgia would hold the third primary the following week and then Michigan two weeks later, according to the vote.
The committee also came up with a way to get around the state law cited by Granite State Democrats on Thursday, which requires that New Hampshire hold the first presidential primary, according to reporter Ben Jacobs on his Twitter account.
The DNC wants 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.
The DNC will also require the state to expand early voting options.
But since states set primary dates, New Hampshire will likely remain first in 2024, maintaining a 100+ year tradition for the Granite State.
State Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley told WMUR's Adam Sexton he was surprised at the vote, but said they would continue to stand by the state law.
"This looks like a plan that was put together by some DC power brokers that brings back politics of smoke-filled rooms and takes it away from the actual voters. That's why we're going to stand by our law. New Hampshire's going to have the first in the nation primary," Buckley said. "The voter's voice is too important to just cast away."
Buckley said the state party committee will be prepared to deal with any "punishment" that comes from the national committee. Holding the first primary is more important than delegates at the national convention, according to Buckley.
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan told WMUR the state's primary has been challenged in the past, and he expects it survive this challenge no matter the sanctions.
GOP Not Likely to Go Along with Dem Demands
NH State Rep. Joe Sweeney (R-Rockingham 8) was blunt on his Twitter account about Republicans not likely to capitulate to the rules committee.
“I would say it’s likelier President Biden comes back to NH to campaign again after all this than any NH Republican caving to DNC bullying regarding our FITN law ... NH won’t be bullied by DC and certainly not by the DNC Rules Committee or the president," Sweeney tweeted.
The NH Republican Party in a tweet welcomed "any Dems feeling disenfranchised" to join their party.
Gov. Chris Sununu joined Democrats in criticizing Biden's recommendation, and laid blame at the president's feet.
"This was Joe Biden’s decision, and once again, he blew it," Sununu said in a statement. "For over 100 years, we have set the model for the rest of the country with consistently high voter turnout and accurate election results. It’s a terrible disservice by Democrats to try and strip Granite Staters of the First in the Nation status that they have worked hard and earned time and time again."
Prior to the vote, Sununu predicted to The Washington Post that New Hampshire would lose its first in the nation status because of what he called a "terrible pitch" made to the rules committee by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.
Biden recommended the new schedule in an effort to bring more diversity to the primaries.
"Our early states must reflect the overall diversity of our party and our nation – economically, geographically, demographically. This means more diverse states earlier in the process and more diversity in the overall mix of early states," Biden wrote in a letter to the rules committee. "Working class families are the backbone of our economy. Union households must be represented in greater numbers than before. We need to include voters from many backgrounds, not to ratify the choice of the earliest states, but as full stakeholders in making the choice."
Biden also recommended a review of the schedule every four years.