New Hampshire lawmakers have decried the Democratic National Committee's (DNC) move to adjust its primary schedule, stripping the Granite State of its First-in-the-Nation primary status.
The Democratic Party on Saturday approved reordering its 2024 presidential primary, placing South Carolina in the leadoff spot on Feb. 3, followed three days later by New Hampshire and Nevada, which is swapping the caucus it used to hold in favor of a primary. Georgia would vote fourth on Feb. 13, followed by Michigan on Feb. 27, with much of the rest of the nation set to vote on Super Tuesday in early March.
The move remakes the current calendar, which saw Iowa start with its caucus, followed by New Hampshire and then Nevada and South Carolina.
The new order follows technical glitches that caused Iowa’s 2020 caucus to meltdown. It also gives President Joe Biden the chance to repay South Carolina, where he scored a decisive 2020 primary win that revived his presidential campaign after losses in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
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Political leaders in New Hampshire have expressed their opposition to the change, which is being championed by the president as a move meant to empower Black and other minority voters critical to its base of support.
A defiant Gov. Chris Sununu said in response to the DNC's vote on Saturday that New Hampshire will be going first in 2024 regardless of what Biden and others say.
"Joe Biden and the power brokers at the DNC in Washington think New Hampshire’s time is up, but it’s not in our DNA to take orders from Washington," Sununu wrote in a tweet.
Sen. Maggie Hassan was also adamant that the Granite State will not allow the DNC to dictate the order in which it votes.
"Our First in the Nation Primary makes our entire country & democracy stronger. Regardless of the DNC vote, New Hampshire will go first," Hassan said in a tweet. "The DNC's primary proposal asks us to violate our state law & puts Democrats' future success in our state at risk -- it is deeply misguided."
The New Hampshire Democratic Party's congressional delegation released a statement saying that the DNC's vote will not be the "last word" on the 2024 presidential primary calendar.
"No party committee gave New Hampshire the first-in-the-nation primary. Granite Staters created this process to put the power in voters' hands and give every candidate a fair shot, no matter their cash-on-hand or status within the party," the statement read. "New Hampshire adds value to the nominating process, and while President Biden and the DNC continue to push a plan of political convenience, they will not be successful in the end."
The strongly-worded statement, signed by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Hassan, as well as Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas, said the delegation will continue to work together and with state leaders to "protect the primary" and to make sure New Hampshire's law is followed.
"No matter what party powerbrokers or those in Washington think, New Hampshire will once again host our first-in-the-nation contest as we have done for more than a century," the statement concluded.
New Hampshire has a state law mandating that it hold the nation’s first presidential primary, which Iowa circumvented since 1972 by holding a caucus. New Hampshire Democrats have joined with top state Republicans in pledging to go forward with the nation’s first presidential primary next year regardless of the DNC calendar.
The Republican Party has voted not to change its 2024 primary order, meaning the campaign has already began in Iowa.
“The DNC has decided to break a half-century precedent and cause chaos by altering their primary process, and ultimately abandoning millions of Americans in Iowa and New Hampshire,” Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said in a statement Saturday.
“Respecting our state law and lifting up diverse voices need not be mutually exclusive,” said Joanne Dowdell, a DNC rules committee member from New Hampshire.
Although more changes are possible later this year, the formal endorsement by the Democratic National Committee during its meeting in Philadelphia is an acknowledgement that the start of the 2024 primary will look very different from the one in 2020. States with early contests play a major role in determining the nominee because White House hopefuls struggling to raise money or gain political traction often drop out before visiting states outside the first five. Media attention and policy debates concentrate in those areas, too.