If New Hampshire loses its First in the Nation primary, Republicans want Granite Staters to know it’s not their fault.
On Tuesday, the state GOP chairs from the four early-voting states reaffirmed their commitment to keeping the presidential nominating schedule exactly as it is.
“As the GOP leaders of the four carve-out states, we want to make clear that we stand together in protecting the presidential nominating schedule as it has existed for many years,” they said in a joint statement. “Our alliance is strong and we will continue to work together to preserve this historic process.”
The statement came from Iowa’s Jeff Kauffman, New Hampshire’s Stephen Stepanek, Nevada’s Michael McDonald and South Carolina’s Drew McKissick.
It is in stark contrast to the attitudes of Democratic leaders who are actively working to strip New Hampshire of its #FITN status. Nevada Democrats passed a bill through their state legislature to move their primary to the front of the line. That legislation is currently sitting on Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s desk. And Politico reported in March Democratic National Committee members and senior party leaders are privately exploring the change as well.
The move is being spearheaded by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), a longtime critic of New Hampshire holding the first presidential primary in the country. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to have those two states to set the tone,” said Reid. “There’s no diversity in Iowa. There’s certainly no diversity in New Hampshire.”
Reid has also told The Los Angeles Times Nevada is “entitled” to be the first state in the nominating process.
Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez, currently the leader of a Democrat-aligned gerrymandering group, has also criticized New Hampshire’s status. Like Reid, he cited a lack of diversity as his reasoning for giving the Granite State the boot.
“I want to make sure that we reflect the grand diversity of our party in everything we do,” Perez said in an interview with CNN.
Prominent Democrats including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, and former DNC chair Howard Dean have said New Hampshire and Iowa have populations that are too white to hold key early primaries for their party. Progressive activists have been blunter about those early primary states: “White supremacy is not just a Fox News problem, folks.”
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen isn’t putting up much of a fight in the Granite State’s defense, even though her husband, New Hampshire’s DNC Committeeman Bill Shaheen, promised to “fight like hell” to defend it.
In a Tuesday morning interview with talk radio host Jack Heath, Shaheen pointedly avoided criticizing her party’s efforts to end the #FITN tradition.
“I continue to believe that it’s going to remain the first primary,” said Shaheen. “There have been efforts to change the New Hampshire primary and it continues to exist because the candidates like it because they can come and they can actually engage with real people.”
“How many reporters have you talked to, Jack, who come here for the primary, who say the voters in New Hampshire are different than everywhere else in the country? Because they know the candidates, they go see them all. They ask some tough questions and, and it’s fun to cover the primary because of that.”
Alas, “fun” won’t save the #FITN primary. It’s going to take political combat, and currently the Democratic Party’s obsession with identity politics has put New Hampshire’s primary in its crosshairs. How hard will Hassan fight her own party by pushing back on its “structural racism” politics on behalf of the primary?
If Democrats continue to claw at New Hampshire’s first in the nation status and Republicans continue to defend it, the primary could become a potent issue in a different election — a potential Hassan v. Sununu 2022 U.S. Senate race.