The Democratic National Committee’s decision to postpone New Hampshire’s first primary prompted a swift response from Granite State officials vowing to hold the state’s primary first, regardless of the committee’s nominating schedule.
In the latest sign of disagreement after the ruling, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, DN.H., announced she would boycott the White House Congressional Ball on Monday night.
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The ball, a formal black-tie gathering for Washington lawmakers, is part of the wider reopening of the White House, serving as a sign of the country’s return to normalcy after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Biden White House recently hosted its first state dinner with French President Emmanuel Macron, who was joined by other high-profile guests such as musician Jon Batiste.
“As Senator Shaheen said, the President’s proposal unnecessarily makes New Hampshire Democrats, up and down the ticket, vulnerable in 2024,” Shaheen spokeswoman Sarah Weinstein said. “Tonight, Senator Shaheen is focused on helping make New Hampshire’s case heard.“
For New Hampshire to stay in the calendar’s early voting window in February — although this is no longer the nation’s first Democratic presidential primary — the New Hampshire Democratic Party must submit a letter signed by the Republican governor. and the majority leaders of the Republican-controlled state legislature. Otherwise, the main state date will be relegated to March along with other states.
The DNC’s schedule has five voting states in its first window: South Carolina on Feb. 3, New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 20, and Michigan on Feb. 27. Early voting window states wield significant influence. on the prospective candidate.
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The letter asks for a statement of intent from the governor and leaders on two items: repeal of the state law that requires New Hampshire to hold its presidential primary first and also expand early voting. Both of these changes are expected to be made by February 1. The state Democratic Party has until Jan. 5 to submit the letter.
“New Hampshire will not be blackmailed by Joe Biden and his political hacks within the Democratic Party,” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s office said in a statement to USA TODAY. The Granite State’s first-in-the-nation status became central to the state’s identity in the nation.
New Hampshire State Senate Majority Leader, Republican Jeb Bradley, also told USA TODAY that he has no plans to sign the letter the DNC wants.
“For them to tell us we have to change our law, we have to change our voting guidelines, my response is sorry, but no way,” Bradley said.
State law requires New Hampshire’s secretary of state to schedule the presidential primary for the second Tuesday in March or 7 days before “any other state holds a similar election,” whichever comes first. Secretary of State David Scanlan has already indicated he will set the date before any other primary.
New Hampshire House Majority Leader Jason Osborne did not respond to request for comment.
Shaheen in an interview after the panel’s decision was adamant that the DNC could have increased voter diversity in its first window without forcing New Hampshire into violating its state law.
“They didn’t need to pit states against each other, and they didn’t need to put New Hampshire Democrats in the position that they have, where we’re already under attack from Republicans in state,” Shaheen said.
This state law has warded off challenges to New Hampshire’s leadership position in the past, and Shaheen said the state will continue to uphold it.
If New Hampshire defied the DNC and held its first primary regardless of the schedule, the DNC could punish the state by stripping it of any delegates to the nominating convention, meaning the state would lose its right to vote.
But the tiny state only sent 33 delegates to the 2020 Democratic National Convention, compared to a total of 3,979 delegates who voted. The architect of the law mandating New Hampshire’s leader, former state legislator Jim Splaine, said the state has little to lose with its delegates.
“It’s not going to happen,” Splaine said of the prospect of New Hampshire being anywhere else on the schedule but first. “(The DNC) just doesn’t get it.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Democrats’ plan to fend off NH primary sparks increases backlash