When it comes to New Hampshire’s First In the Nation primary, Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is one of the many haters. And he’s never been shy about saying so. “I was always terribly upset about how we were choosing our presidents,” then-Senate Minority Leader Reid said in 2015. “You go to New Hampshire. There are not any minorities there. Nobody lives there.”
Granite State politicos, like the New England Patriots (until this year, anyway), are used to being hated for their success. There have been multiple attempts to knock New Hampshire out of the top primary spot, and each time they’ve been foiled by Secretary of State Bill Gardner and a united front from the Granite State’s political players.
So when an 81-year-old former senator like Harry Reid tells the LA Times, “I think we’re entitled to be the first state,” who cares?
But according to the LA Times’ Mark Barabak, you should. He says Reid’s comments are significant because of his long relationship with President-Elect Joe Biden and the team that will be working out of the White House. According to Barabak, Reid “remains a major power in Nevada, from lobbying people close to Biden and taking up his proposal with members of the Democratic National Committee.”
Perhaps. But the more clear and present danger comes from the growing consensus among Democrats that their primary calendar is overdue for a change. Their reasons are Iowa’s incompetence and New Hampshire’s demographics.
First, Iowa. Suffice it to say their 2020 caucus was such a poorly-managed disaster that the Associated Press declined to declare a winner for the first time. Ever. And that comes on the heels of problematic results in previous contests, like the 2012 GOP primary won by Sen. Rick Santorum, but only two weeks after Gov. Mitt Romney had been erroneously declared the victor.
“Iowa has forfeited its chance to be number one. I don’t think that’ll happen anymore,” Reid said in February. “I think that Iowa really was an embarrassment to everybody.”
Now the big push is to knock New Hampshire off its perch. In the weeks leading up to the 2020 FITN primary, there were dozens of articles in influential left-of-center publications with headlines like:
- Democratic Party Officials Don’t Want Iowa and New Hampshire To Go First Anymore (Vox.com)
- Kill the Tradition: N.H. and Iowa Should Not Go First (Boston Globe)
- It’s 2020. Time for Democrats to Ignore These Two States. (NY Times)
There were hundreds of similar articles from Democratic politicians and social justice activists attacking the Democratic calendar for putting states with overwhelmingly white populations at the front of the line. Some prominent Democratic activists openly declared Granite State Democrats potentially racist.
And other than a lame reply that “Hey, we voted for Obama,” New Hampshire Democrats don’t have an answer.
(And even the “Obama” answer is disingenuous. Hillary Clinton beat Obama in New Hampshire’s 2008 Democratic primary.)
State vs. state fighting is a battle New Hampshire can win. Arguing over which state should go first is simply a “why not?” question. But asking why a state with a 95 percent white population and one of the highest gun ownership rates in America should be the first state for the modern, identity-politics Democratic Party is much harder for Gardner and Co. to answer.
The fact that the results of the Iowa and New Hampshire contests were meaningless to the final outcome doesn’t help, either. Biden could have ignored the two states and kicked off his campaign in Nevada (where he finished in second place) and he would still be the nominee. Unknown South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg won more than twice as many votes as the former Vice President in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Current Democratic Party officials are openly calling for ending Iowa’s first-state tradition, as well as the caucus process itself. That would include turning Nevada’s caucus into a primary which, if Reid got his way, would put the state crosswise with New Hampshire. State law mandates that New Hampshire’s primary be the FITN. If Democrats dumped Iowa for Nevada and kept the caucus, this fight might be resolved with a Nevada/New Hampshire opening season.
But caucuses undermine the “one person, one vote” ideal progressives are promoting, and New Hampshire will still have a “race” problem.
Democratic National Committeeman Bill Shaheen is talking tough, telling WMUR’s John DiStaso, “I’m going to fight like hell.” Shaheen, husband of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, isn’t in the strongest position, however, given that his wife sat out the New Hampshire primary. She might have been able to lift Biden out of his embarrassing fifth-place finish.
And what’s the value in holding the very first — and therefore, very important — Democratic primary in a state that’s so out of touch with the rest of the party that it tanked the eventual nominee?
“New Hampshire did its job,” Shaheen insists, adding, “All of the candidates were good, so it was difficult to pick one over the other.”
That’s an interesting way to describe a field that included Andrew Yang and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.
Is Joe Biden really going to push back against pressure to dump a state that dumped him, instead of embracing diversity and giving his “woke” progressive base a win that costs him literally nothing?
Bill Gardner has his work cut out for him.