Will the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) threat to strip New Hampshire of a POTUS debate impact the date of the First in the Nation primary?
“In a word, ‘no,’” New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan told NHJournal Thursday.
Fox News reporter Paul Steinhauser reported earlier in the day that the RNC “decided to issue a warning that it will pull a planned GOP presidential primary debate in New Hampshire if the state leapfrogs Iowa’s caucuses and moves to the top of the party’s nomination calendar.”
But Scanlan dismissed the threat, saying it would not be part of his decision-making process. If Iowa Democrats force his hand, he will set the New Hampshire primary date before Iowa.
It is a real possibility as long as Iowa Democrats are threatening to hold what they call a “mail-in caucus,” a concept Granite State politicos dismiss as oxymoronic. It is a scheme that is part of the Hawkeye State Democrats’ effort to get back in the good graces of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and have their contest returned to the early-state part of the primary calendar.
Iowa Republicans are trying to help resolve the issue. They passed a law earlier this year mandating that Iowa caucuses occur in person. Last week, Iowa Democrats announced they are holding in-person caucuses on January 15 — the same day as the GOP — but only “to conduct party business, elect precinct officers, and determine unbound delegates to the county convention,” The Des Moines Register reported. They haven’t made a final decision about the presidential preference portion of their contest. The DNC is demanding the state party have a postmark date deadline of March 5, 2024: ‘Super Tuesday.’”
Both Iowa and New Hampshire got the boot from President Joe Biden, who had the DNC pull the two states from the front of the calendar. The Republican Party hasn’t changed the order of its contests, and the Iowa GOP is sticking with its traditional caucus. In New Hampshire, both parties are backing up Scanlan and his authority to set the primary date to ensure it is the first of the cycle.
And Scanlan said it does not matter what the RNC does with its debate calendar. If Iowa Democrats hold a contest that’s too close to a primary, New Hampshire will set its date ahead of the Hawkeye State.
In May, when the Iowa Democrats floated their idea of a “mail-in” caucus, NHJournal asked Scanlan if he thought it would force New Hampshire to invoke its primary-protection law. “Sounds like a primary to me,” he said. His stance hasn’t changed.
“I am not willing to allow things to take place that are incrementally moving towards a primary because that gets the foot in the door,” Scanlan told WMUR-TV earlier this month. “It’s easier to expand that the next time around. So, we’re going to take a pretty hard line on any effort to make a traditional caucus look more like a presidential primary.”
Iowa GOP Chairman Jeff Kaufmann has called Scanlan’s stance “overly rambunctious.”
Scanlan’s response? “Well, I’ve been called many things, but not that before.”
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu told Fox News that New Hampshire won’t back down.
“The first presidential primary will be taking place in New Hampshire, regardless of what the political power brokers in Washington, D.C. think,” Sununu wrote. “We will not be threatened; we will follow our law, and we will go first. End of story.”