Frustrated members of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) unloaded on New Hampshire Democrats over their “disturbing” and “irresponsible” attacks against President Joe Biden and the national party in response to the new presidential primary calendar.
During a contentious Zoom meeting Wednesday night, member after member of the committee called out Granite State Democrats. Committee members refuted claims made by Chairman Ray Buckley and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and reaffirmed their commitment to stripping New Hampshire of its official First in the Nation status in the party.
“I’m a little bit frustrated to hear folks in New Hampshire’s Democratic establishment sounding more like the Republican governor publicly than arguing that they can get it done,” said RBC member Mo Elleithee. “There seems to be an echoing of what the Republican establishment in New Hampshire is saying.”
Two messages coming from both Democrats and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu are that New Hampshire will hold its primary first, no matter what; and if Biden keeps his pledge “not to set foot” in the Granite State before the primary or participate in any way, he could lose it.
“We are going first, we are going to have a winner,” Sununu said recently, and he predicted somebody in the Democratic Party would come here to campaign.
“That Democrat is going to have a head of steam behind him regardless of what games the DNC wants to play,” Sununu said. “They clearly didn’t think this through.”
New Hampshire’s representative on the RBC, Joanne Dowdell, made the same point Wednesday night. “If President Biden declines to file in the New Hampshire primary, he may lose the first presidential primary in 2024,” she said adding, “This is not how any of us would like to kick off a reelection campaign.”
That Democrat could be celebrity self-help author Marianne Williamson, who says she is planning a visit to New Hampshire to make “a more informed decision” about 2024, The Washington Post reports. Williamson, who ran in 2020 and dropped out before Iowa, also has an exploratory campaign fundraising website.
“I felt a deep connection to my New Hampshire supporters and I’m going back in a few weeks to connect with some old friends as well as new ones,” Williamson told the Post. “I won’t be doing any public talks, but I’ll be on the ground talking to people and it will help me make a more informed decision.”
In a contested primary, Williamson would be a long-shot candidate. But if Biden stays off the ballot and other well-known Democrats sit out the race, she would have a real shot at winning New Hampshire’s unsanctioned contest.
The committee was unmoved by those arguments, however, and members reiterated their determination to see the new calendar passed by the full Democratic National Committee in Philadelphia next month. And they appeared to have little sympathy left for New Hampshire Democrats.
“I really do believe it is irresponsible, the statements being made in New Hampshire,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a member of the RBC.
Several members also went out of their way to reject claims that the decision to dump New Hampshire from the top spot was an unexpected surprise or back-stabbing betrayal as portrayed by Buckley and others.
Last week, Buckley gave a rambling, extended interview to Politico in which he insisted he and other top Democrats had no idea the state’s standing was at risk, despite months of media reporting about the debate inside the DNC. Buckley also claimed New Hampshire Democratic primary voters “loved” Joe Biden and wanted him to be the nominee — despite his fifth-place finish.
“I was also taken aback and, quite frankly, shocked that this was somehow unexpected,” said DNC member Leah Daughtry. “I have been at every rules meeting, and to my recollection, it has come up at every single meeting that we have had.”
And Daughtry reiterated that race and equity issues are at the heart of the DNC’s decision.
“Hanging their argument on this 100-year-old privilege, for me as an African American woman, is quite disturbing in as much as this law was passed even before Black people had the right to vote,” Daughtry said.
Despite the RBC’s 25-0 vote to give New Hampshire and Georgia until June 3 to comply with the requirements of being an early primary state, nobody expects significant progress from either state. And there was no sign Biden or the DNC will go back on their plans.
The strategy used by New Hampshire Democrats — pleading letters and public complaints, but no exertion of political leverage — has provoked a backlash from their fellow Democrats, as demonstrated on Wednesday night. There was no evidence it had any impact on the DNC’s decision.