In his latest round of begging at the feet of the Democratic National Committee, Ray Buckley made one indisputably true statement. His letter called the decision to strip the New Hampshire Democrats of the First in the Nation (FITN) presidential primary “an unfortunate, reckless, and self-inflicted blow.”
Unfortunately, he sent the letter to the wrong people.
It should have gone to Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan … and to the desk of Raymond Buckley himself.
In a shock to absolutely nobody, the New Hampshire Democratic Party was not able to meet Thursday’s deadline for getting the GOP-controlled legislature to throw out the state’s FITN law. And — surprise — Gov. Chris Sununu wasn’t willing to convene the body in special session to radically change the state’s election laws and allow early voting weeks before Election Day.
By failing to meet the deadline, New Hampshire doesn’t just lose the first slot, it gets pushed out of the early state lineup entirely. In other words, the DNC voted to push New Hampshire back into the cheap seats of the 2024 primary.
Great work, Ray!
Granite State Democratic leaders have responded with a flurry of letters and media interviews bemoaning the DNC’s decision.
“Punishing New Hampshire Democrats, who have no ability to address voting laws in the face of a Republican trifecta in the state, could have dire consequences for Democrats up and down the ticket in 2024,” wrote state Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy (D-Manchester).
“Our state’s first-in-the-nation primary makes our entire country and democracy stronger, and the importance of how we’ve run the New Hampshire primary should not be dismissed,” the four members of the federal delegation said in a Boston Globe op-ed on December 15.
But those cries and complaints all came after the fact. For years, Buckley, Shaheen, and company have insisted their party’s FITN was secure. Nothing to see here, move along.
Meanwhile, their fellow Democrats were unleashing a political assault on the primary on racial grounds. Some of the biggest names in their party said explicitly that New Hampshire voters weren’t to be trusted when it came to candidates of color. Granite State Democratic primary voters are simply “too White” to be allowed to go first.
Democrats like former DNC chairs Ron Perez and Howard Dean have been beating this identity-politics drum for the better part of a decade. “New Hampshire and Iowa are a big problem,” Dean said in a 2019 Politico article on the lack of diversity among the party’s presidential candidates after Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the race, Dean said
And, he added, “They’re going to be toast sooner rather than later.”
Former U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, who wanted the FITN primary moved to his home state of Nevada, said straight up the Granite State had a White people problem.
“You go to New Hampshire. There are not any minorities there. Nobody lives there,” Reid told The Washington Post back in 2015.
Prominent Democrats including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro repeatedly made the “too White” accusation during the 2020 primary season, too.
Even going back to 2008, when Hillary Clinton narrowly defeated Barack Obama in the New Hampshire Democratic primary, there was public speculation among Democrats that White racism had defeated him.
Who was the New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman in 2008– and has run the state party ever since? Ray Buckley.
Who was the Democratic U.S. senator from New Hampshire elected in 2008? Jeanne Shaheen.
And who has publicly spoken out to defend the state’s Democratic primary voters from the constant stream of accusations that they are racially suspect?
New Hampshire Democrats didn’t lose the FITN primary when the committee voted in December, or when Joe Biden announced he wanted some political payback for his humiliating fifth-place finish in the Granite State. They lost the primary the day the “too White” narrative took hold inside their party. Once the DNC and Democrats more broadly believed that, Howard Dean’s prophecy came true.
Democrats can’t say they weren’t warned. For years, NHJournal repeatedly asked Shaheen, Hassan, and Buckley to respond to those race-based attacks against New Hampshire voters. The answer was usually “no comment.” When Democrats like former state party chair Kathy Sullivan would respond, it was to dismiss the question.
“I don’t agree that they are saying Iowa and New Hampshire are racist,” Sullivan told NHJournal in 2019. “They are saying that having more diversity among voters would better reflect the Democratic electorate.”
New Hampshire’s Democratic leaders could have spent the past four years defending their own voters’ reputations, rather than standing by silently and letting them get trashed by progressives in their party. But Buckley and Shaheen remained silent.
And what happened? The “White guilt” politics around New Hampshire’s FITN status grew so strong that multiple polls showed the Granite State’s own Democratic voters didn’t support the state’s law protecting the primary. In the last UNH poll, Democratic support for the law had fallen to just 45 percent. Another 10 percent opposed the law outright.
With the primary being pulled by the party, a new Granite State Poll, conducted by the UNH Survey Center and released Thursday, found just nine percent of Democrats support the DNC’s new calendar and 63 percent oppose it. Ironically, Granite State Democrats are still far more likely to say losing the primary isn’t important (44 percent) than their Republican counterparts (31 percent). Another sign that the “too White” narrative is still strong.
Democrats are the party of identity politics. Their national convention rules mandate the delegation meet race and sex quotas in the name of social justice. So, it’s hardly been a secret that the punches thrown at the New Hampshire primary were landing. And making an impact.
Now, it’s too late. Buckley has all but admitted it, telling Politico he was already looking to 2028.
“There will be a new RBC committee, new DNC leadership, and we hope that we can appeal to them,” Buckley said of the post-2024 primaries. “I certainly think that the multiple candidates that would be running, or consider running, in 2028 would make their voices clear, too.”
If there had been some clear voices in their party on behalf of New Hampshire voters, the Democrats might not be in this mess.