New Hampshire Democrats are warning changes to the party’s presidential primary schedule for 2024 “could wreak havoc on Democrats up and down the ticket in New Hampshire and unnecessarily jeopardize four critical electoral votes” in President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign.
In December, the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws committee approved a plan recommended by Biden, who has yet to declare his intention to run for reelection, to make South Carolina the party’s first presidential primary Feb. 3 to increase diversity in the party’s presidential nominating system. South Carolina’s primary also was key in jump-starting Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign.
New Hampshire law requires it to be the nation’s first presidential primary, which it has been since 1920. Without changing the law and New Hampshire still holds the first primary, Biden and other leading Democrat candidates could skip it and the DNC could strip the state of delegates to the national convention.
A letter dated Tuesday to Biden from several New Hampshire Democrats said the changes puts the state party in a “no-win situation.”
“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,” the letter said. “All three of these Republican leaders have told the DNC that this is a nonstarter, calling it ‘outrageous’ and likening it to ‘blackmail.'”
The Rules and Bylaws Committee also requires New Hampshire adopt a law of no-fault absentee voting, where an excuse is not needed to request an absentee ballot. Although the New Hampshire Democrats wrote they are in favor of such a proposal, they added “New Hampshire Democrats cannot unilaterally change the law.”
“New Hampshire Republicans have been reliably hostile to any changes to our voting laws — with every Republican state senator voting against no-fault absentee voting in 2021 and Gov. Chris Sununu vetoing a no-fault absentee bill Democrats passed in 2019.”
The letter said if the DNC and Biden’s campaign withhold resources from New Hampshire or wait to begin building an organization until after the primary, it will hinder its efforts to help build a general election campaign in the state and allow the Republicans to “outorganize us up and down the ballot.”
“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 letter said. “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.
“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.”
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