DNC Puts South Carolina First in Presidential Primary-New Hampshire Dems Threaten to Go Rogue
The Democratic Party on Saturday approved reshuffling its 2024 presidential primary calendar, booting Iowa and New Hampshire from their historical opening position. The move is part of a DNC bid to amplify black and Hispanic voters within the party. New Hampshire had been the first state in the primary cycle for more than a century. It will be replaced with South Carolina.
“This committee put together a calendar proposal that reflects our values and will strengthen our party. This calendar does what is long overdue. It expands the number of voices in the early window. And it elevates diverse communities that are at the core of the Democratic Party,” DNC chair Jaime Harrison said on Saturday. “[the new calendar] puts black voters at the front of the process in South Carolina.”
Under the new plan, South Carolina would launch its primary on Feb 3., followed by New Hampshire three days later. President Biden championed the proposal.
While the DNC and its body of 500 voting members have touted the plan as a win for diversity, some Granite State democrats believe there is an ulterior motive. During the 2020 primary season, Joe Biden heavily underperformed in New Hampshire, coming in fourth place. He performed even worse in the Iowa primary, trailing in fifth place.
The Biden campaign found its success in South Carolina, taking home first place, mainly due to the support of the state’s minority populations. Placing South Carolina in the leadoff position strongly signals that Joe Biden intends to run again in 2024.
“We remain extremely concerned about the effects this calendar will have on our purple, crucial battleground state,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley said in a statement following the vote. Despite the DNC’s vote outcome, many Granite State Democrats are calling on the state party to reject the calendar and put their state first.
“Our First in the Nation Primary makes our entire country & democracy stronger,” Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan said in a tweet. “Regardless of the DNC vote, New Hampshire will go first.”
“The DNC’s primary proposal asks us to violate our state law & puts Democrats’ future success in our state at risk — it is deeply misguided.”
Our First in the Nation Primary makes our entire country & democracy stronger. Regardless of the DNC vote, New Hampshire will go first.
The DNC's primary proposal asks us to violate our state law & puts Democrats' future success in our state at risk—it is deeply misguided. #FITN
— Maggie Hassan (@Maggie_Hassan) February 4, 2023
A conflict between the New Hampshire state party and the DNC could be a disaster for Democrat Party unity. The DNC is likely to impose penalties on the state party for going rogue, but that may not be enough to prevent a rift.
“President Biden will not file for election in the New Hampshire primary, which will still go first,” state chair Buckley said, according to a report by Fox News. “This will set him up, we believe, for an embarrassing situation where the first primary in the country will be won by someone other than the president. This will only fuel chatter about Democrats’ divisions.”
Mo Elleithee, a DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee member was also reported by Fox News to have said, “it is “frustrating to me [to] watch the New Hampshire Democratic Party attacking the DNC… We’re hopeful that they see that because going to war with the DNC isn’t going to help them keep it.”
But it is unlikely that the New Hampshire Democratic Party will be backing down soon. Joanne Dowdell, the state party’s representative on the Rules and Bylaws Committee, fired back at Elleithee, “It is frustrating. It’s frustrating because the DNC is set to punish us despite the fact we don’t have the ability to unilaterally change state law.”
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While further changes to the DNC’s calendar are possible, they are unlikely to take shape before the 2024 primary cycle. The RNC has no plans to change its schedule and will keep New Hampshire and Iowa at their historical leadoff.
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