By Jack Phillips
President Joe Biden was warned by New Hampshire Democrats not to replace the state as the first presidential primary, arguing that a recently proposed primary lineup would cause problems in the state.
A letter issued to Biden on Tuesday signed by 20 Democrats warned that Biden could see his reelection chances drop if New Hampshire is dropped. Several weeks ago, the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted for a different early voting lineup for 2024, removing New Hampshire from its first-in-the-United States slot.
“You have been coming to New Hampshire since 1980. We appreciate all of the time you have spent here, and the deep friendships you have made. We have long considered you and Jill part of our New Hampshire family,” the Democrats wrote in the letter to Biden. “While we share your desire to elevate more diverse voices in the process,” it added, “we believe that the proposed schedule could wreak havoc on Democrats up and down the ticket in New Hampshire and unnecessarily jeopardize four critical electoral votes in your re-election campaign.”
The letter comes after the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted for a new early voting lineup for the 2024 presidential primaries in December, proposing to remove New Hampshire from its No. 1 slot.
Democrats’ recently approved calendar replaces New Hampshire with South Carolina for the first presidential primary. It would then be followed up by Nevada, New Hampshire, and later, Georgia and Michigan.
But, according to the letter, the DNC’s committee has created a “no-win” situation for New Hampshire Democrats. “First, the DNC has stipulated that New Hampshire’s Republican Governor, Republican Senate Majority Leader, and Republican House Majority Leader must repeal New Hampshire’s state law requiring it to hold the presidential primary at least seven days prior to the other earliest contest,” they said, adding that GOP leaders told the DNC that it won’t happen.
They also expressed alarm that the DNC is pushing for “no-fault absentee voting” in New Hampshire, but Democrats there “cannot unilaterally change the law” due to New Hampshire Republicans’ hostility “to any changes to our voting laws … with every Republican state Senator voting against no-fault absentee voting in 2021.”
The letter then warned that if the DNC and Biden’s campaign provide fewer resources to New Hampshire or wait to build a voter outreach regime until after the primary ends, it will hamper Democrats’ efforts in the state.
“We will need every resource at our disposal to help you be successful in 2024 and cannot delay our efforts to build a world-class campaign apparatus,” the Democrats wrote to Biden. “We also fear—if you decline to file in the New Hampshire primary—that you may lose the first presidential primary of 2024, create an unnecessary distraction for your campaign, and diminish your great record over the past two years.”
They added: “Regardless of what the DNC decides, state law ensures that our primary will continue to go first, thereby giving an opportunity for another candidate to file here and capitalize on the growing anger toward national Democrats.”
Proponents of switching out New Hampshire from its No. 1 primary spot say that the state doesn’t represent the U.S. population because of its predominately white population.
James Roosevelt Jr., a co-chair of the DNC’s rules and bylaws panel, wrote that states like South Carolina, which has a higher black population, more prominence. Data shows that black voters overwhelmingly favor Democrats.
“New Hampshire has done this and done it well for a century or more, but they have always abided by the party rules,” Roosevelt said, according to WMUR. “This is the first time they’re not doing that.”
The proposal will be finalized when the Democratic National Committee votes on the final election schedule in February. Republicans already decided to keep Iowa and New Hampshire as the first caucus and primary in the GOP’s 2024 schedule.
As for Biden, he performed relatively poorly during New Hampshire’s 2020 Democratic primary in February of that year, finishing fifth. At the time, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) were neck-in-neck in the Granite State.
Biden, however, won South Carolina’s 2020 Democratic primary after snagging a key endorsement from then-House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.). Biden got about 48 percent of the vote, easily beating out Sanders and the rest.
Neither Biden nor his campaign have issued a public response to the letter.