After months of hints, warnings, and committee votes, the Democratic National Committee delivered a new presidential primary calendar for 2024 that pushes New Hampshire from the front of the line as the state’s Democratic leaders helplessly looked on.
The new schedule was approved by a voice vote, with only a handful of “nays” from the packed crowd.
“While we all know the outcome of today’s vote, please hear me out,” pleaded New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Ray Buckley, acknowledging defeat before he began. It was a very different message from Buckley’s claim in December that “we expect the DNC will endorse New Hampshire’s First-in-the-Nation primary.” Buckley made that statement just hours before the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted to strip the Granite State of its place in line.
On Saturday, the full committee gathered in Philadelphia to endorse the new calendar, which was proposed in part by President Joe Biden. It moves South Carolina to the top spot with a primary on Saturday, February 3, then puts both Nevada and New Hampshire on the following Tuesday.
“We are deeply proud of the committee for executing on the vision of the president,” said Jim Roosevelt, co-chair of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. “We are deeply proud of the committee for executing on the vision of the president and I can tell you he remains a strong supporter of this bold window [of early-voting states]. This proposal is the right thing to do in support of our president.”
The committee also extended the window for Georgia and New Hampshire to meet the requirements of allowing early voting until June 3, but the prospects of GOP-controlled state governments making those changes are virtually zero, all parties agree.
Three Granite State representatives addressed the full committee, receiving icy greetings from the group. They made the same arguments they have been making to no avail for a year: We support Biden, and this will endanger the Granite State’s four electoral college votes.
“I’m not asking you to vote against the president, because it broke my heart to vote against his calendar,” said Joanne Dowdell, the state’s member of the Rules and Bylaws Committee. But, she added, “we are frustrated because, as many times as we say it, nobody appears to listen: This will only hurt Joe Biden in a purple battleground state.”
State Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) told the committee the vote would hurt her party’s efforts to win the State House. She reminded members Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, and the GOP-controlled legislature will never pass an early-voting law in New Hampshire. She also repeated her pledge that Granite State Democrats are determined to change state law to allow early voting when they have the power.
But it was Buckley’s remarks that raised the most eyebrows. He lectured the committee on Democratic politics and claimed the Rules and Bylaws Committee had “abandoned” New Hampshire. And in a moment many found ironic, he told his party, “Try to get to 51 without [Sens.] Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan” — a reference to the narrow Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate and an inadvertent reminder that the state’s all-Democratic delegation declined to use their power to save the state’s primary tradition.
New Hampshire Republicans immediately called out the state’s Democrats for their failure.
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 tweeted. “New Hampshire will be going first in 2024.”
Newly-elected NHGOP chair Chris Ager agreed.
“The DNC can change their rules, and they can make their silly demands, but New Hampshire will hold our First in the Nation primary in the 2024 presidential race,” Ager said in a statement. “It’s clear that our inept President – who was soundly rejected by New Hampshire Democrat primary voters in 2020 – is attempting to retaliate against those voters. Punishing New Hampshire is a deeply flawed logic. Instead, the DNC should listen to what Granite Staters were telling them – reject Joe Biden.
“Granite Staters will not bow to Democrat Party bosses. Our First in the Nation Primary will happen as scheduled, and President Biden will become the first incumbent to lose New Hampshire since 1952. We look forward to welcoming all presidential candidates over the next twelve months and can hardly wait to deliver the state to Republicans in 2024. For that, at least, we have the Democrats to thank.”