New Hampshire’s two Democratic senators slammed President Biden’s proposal to put South Carolina ahead of the Granite State on the party’s presidential primary calendar, insisting the radical shake up was “misguided” and a “short-sighted decision.”
The drastic proposed reset would see South Carolina kick off the 2024 Democratic nominating contests on Feb. 6 of that year, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later — ending the Granite State’s 104-year status as the state that leads off the process.
News of the potential shakeup sparked fury in New Hampshire as the rule-making arm of the Democratic National Committee was set to meet in Washington Friday to vote on the shakeup.
“It’s tremendously disappointing that the president failed to understand the unique role that New Hampshire plays in our candidate selection process as the first primary state,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said in a statement.
“It’s a shame the White House’s short-sighted decision risks splintering attention from candidates, denying voters crucial opportunities to connect with candidates and hear their visions and policy priorities.”
Still, Shaheen vowed the DNC vote would have no bearing on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status.
“As frustrating as this decision is, it holds no bearing over when we choose our primary date: New Hampshire’s State law stipulates that we will hold the ‘First-in-the-Nation’ primary. That status remains unchanged as we are bound by State statute,” she said.
Shaheen’s colleague, Maggie Hassan echoed those concerns, saying: “I strongly oppose the President’s deeply misguided proposal.”
“But make no mistake,” Hassan continued. “New Hampshire’s law is clear and our primary will continue to be first in the nation.”
Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) also doubled down, insisting the Granite State will enforce its first-in-the-nation state law.
“Regardless of today’s events, New Hampshire will still host the first in the nation primary in accordance with our state law,” Kuster said in a statement.
“The first in the nation primary cannot be granted or revoked by the DNC, and I look forward to New Hampshire continuing to host robust presidential primaries into the future.”
Under state law, New Hampshire’s presidential primary must be held at least seven days before any “similar election” in any other state. The Iowa caucuses, which have been the first contest since 1972, are not considered a “similar election” for these purposes.
Other states have previously tried to violate party rules and jump closer to the front, only to be threatened with having their delegates not count toward their chosen candidate clinching the party’s nomination.
The DNC had no immediate response to the statements by Shaheen, Hassan and Kuster.
In a letter to Democrats on Thursday, Biden, 80, cited the need for more diversity in the nominating process as the impetus for the calendar change.
“We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process and throughout the entire early window,” Biden wrote in letter to members of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee.
“Black voters in particular have been the backbone of the Democratic Party but have been pushed to the back of the early primary process. We rely on these voters in elections but have not recognized their importance in our nominating calendar. It is time to stop taking these voters for granted, and time to give them a louder and earlier voice in the process.”
Following the first three contests, the Democrats’ tentative plan would be to hold Georgia’s presidential primary on Feb. 20, 2024, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27.
The Republican National Committee has already said that its first four nominating contests would be held in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, following the traditional order.
With Post wires
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