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Biden urges DNC to give prized #fitn presidential primary to SC, not NH

The president 'failed to understand the unique role' NH plays in nominating process, Dem senator said.
Biden urges DNC to give prized #fitn presidential primary to SC, not NH
Ahead of New Hampshire's 2020 presidential primary, Joe Biden campaigns in Hampton. (Steven Porter | Granite Memo) 

Democrats at the national level won't recognize New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation presidential primary in 2024, if the Democratic National Committee follows President Joe Biden's plan for the nominating calendar, according to news reports Thursday evening.

Biden's preferred nominating calendar would have South Carolina go first, followed a week later by New Hampshire and Nevada, then primaries in Georgia and Michigan after that, according to the reports.

Citing a "source in the room," Politico's Elena Schneider reported that committee members at a private dinner Thursday were being told the White House is pushing for primaries to be held in February 2024: in South Carolina on Feb. 5, in New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 12, in Georgia on Feb. 19 and in Michigan on Feb. 26.

Notably absent from Biden's list: Iowa, which had severe problems with its 2020 caucuses.

"By breaking with decades of tradition, Biden's move is meant to signal his party's commitment to elevating more variety — demographic, geographic and economic — in the early nominating process," as Michael Scherer and Tyler Pager reported for The Washington Post.

Biden wrote a letter to the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee ahead of the group's meetings on Friday and Saturday, as Scherer and Pager reported for the Post: "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.

We must ensure that voters of color have a voice in choosing our nominee much earlier in the process

Biden's proposed new lineup reflects the path taken by his own presidential campaign: "After he came in fourth in Iowa and fifth in New Hampshire in 2020, he turned his campaign around in South Carolina and won the nomination on his strength in more diverse states whose elections were later in the year," as Katie Glueck and Reid J. Epstein reported for The New York Times.

Biden's letter was written on personal stationery, without the White House seal, as Zeke Miller, Meg Kinnard and Will Weissert reported for AP.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, blasted Biden's proposal, as Adam Sexton reported for WMUR: "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," Shaheen said.

New Hampshire has a state law that requires the Secretary of State to schedule the NH presidential primary at least seven days before any similar contest in the country. That sets the stage for a showdown between Democrats at the state and national levels.

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If the nominating calendar put forward by Biden is endorsed by the Rules and Bylaws Committee this weekend and approved by the full DNC, then the big question will be how Democrats penalize candidates who choose to campaign in the Granite State anyway, as Sexton explained during a live WMUR broadcast from Washington, D.C., where the committee is meeting.

The full DNC will meet in early January, as Ethan DeWitt reported for NH Bulletin.

Earlier on Thursday, Jonathan Martin and Elena Schneider reported for Politico that Michigan was poised to replace Iowa in the Democratic roster of states voting early-on in the presidential nominating calendar.

NH Dems release outraged statements

More from Shaheen: "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. 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."

Sen. Maggie Hassan: "I strongly oppose the President's deeply misguided proposal, but make no mistake, New Hampshire's law is clear and our primary will continue to be First in the Nation. New Hampshire does democracy better than anywhere else, and makes better candidates and better presidents as a result of our First in the Nation Primary. Because of our state's small size, candidates from all walks of life – not just the ones with the largest war chests – are able to compete and engage in the unique retail politics that are a hallmark of our state. ... We will always hold the First in the Nation Primary, and this status is independent of the President's proposal or any political organization."

Rep. Annie Kuster: "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."

Rep. Chris Pappas: "As our law stipulates, New Hampshire will go first, and I will continue to work with state and party leaders to uphold our law and ensure our primary remains first on the calendar.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley: "The DNC did not give New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation primary and it is not theirs to take away. This news is obviously disappointing, but we will be holding our primary first. We have survived past attempts over the decades and we will survive this. ... We will continue to do what we in New Hampshire do well – provide a level playing field for all candidates and ensure they are stronger and ready for the fights ahead.”

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