The Democratic National Committee is kicking the can down the road in its fight with the crucial early voting state of New Hampshire over an effort to dramatically refigure the party’s 2024 presidential nominating calendar.
The DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee on Thursday voted to grant New Hampshire — which for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House — a third extension to give the state more time to come into compliance with the national party committee’s new schedule, which moves South Carolina to the top of the nominating order.
The move by the panel comes one day after New Hampshire Secretary of State Dave Scanlan announced that his state’s presidential primary filing period would start on Oct. 11, leading to a contest that will likely be held in late January — ahead of South Carolina — and putting the Granite State on a collision course with the DNC.
The extension unanimously granted by the DNC panel on Thursday would last until Oct. 14.
However, New Hampshire is likely to eventually be found in non-compliance and penalized, with the state all but certain to hold an unsanctioned primary that would probably keep President Biden from putting his name on the ballot.
“We committed at the outset of this process to allow for every opportunity for states to honor the opportunity of hosting their nominating contests within the early window. We want to recommit to that principle and continue to work with the New Hampshire Democratic Party towards that goal,” Rules and Bylaws Committee co-chair James Roosevelt said.
The DNC overwhelmingly voted in early February to dramatically alter the top of its presidential nominating calendar for the 2024 election cycle, bumping Iowa and New Hampshire from their longtime leadoff positions.
However, seven months later, there is no resolution with New Hampshire or Iowa, and the national Democratic Party is still working to implement its revamped primary schedule.
The push by the DNC to upend its primary calendar — in order to better reflect Black and Hispanic voters in the early primary contests — has been vigorously opposed in New Hampshire.
“Granite Staters appreciate and respect the responsibility of the over 100-year tradition of the First in the Nation New Hampshire primary. They understand New Hampshire has a special place in the history of American politics and their place in it. We look forward to continuing that tradition here next year, and in the years to come,” longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said earlier this summer.
Democrats for years have knocked both Iowa and New Hampshire as unrepresentative of the party as a whole, for being largely White with few major urban areas. Nevada and South Carolina, which in recent cycles have voted third and fourth on the calendar, are much more diverse than either Iowa or New Hampshire. Nevada and South Carolina were added to the Democratic calendar nearly two decades ago to increase the diversity of the early states electorate.
The DNC overwhelmingly approved a calendar proposed by President Biden to move South Carolina to the lead position, with a Feb. 3, 2024, primary. New Hampshire and Nevada are scheduled to hold primaries three days later, followed by Georgia and Michigan. The president and supporters of the plan have argued that it would empower minority voters, whom Democrats have long relied on but have at times taken for granted.
“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 core of the Democratic Party,” DNC Chair Jaime Harrison said earlier this year.
However, implementing the calendar has been anything but easy.
South Carolina Democrats are on board, but Palmetto State Republicans will hold their primary later in February. Nevada Democrats are game, but the Silver State’s GOP — after an unsuccessful legal push to opt out of a Feb. 6 primary — is aiming to hold a Republican presidential caucus two days later. Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State this spring set the state’s primary date for May 12 of next year, rebuffing the DNC.
Iowa, which was left out of the DNC’s early voting states calendar, is still looking for ways to remain the leadoff contest without violating party rules.
New Hampshire has a nearly half-century-old law that mandates that it hold the first presidential primary, a week ahead of any similar contest.
The DNC earlier this year extended an earlier deadline until Sept. 1 for New Hampshire to come into compliance or face getting booted from the early state window for the 2024 cycle.
To comply, New Hampshire needs to scrap its state law protecting its first-in-the-nation primary status and must expand access to early voting. However, with Republicans in control of New Hampshire’s governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature, state Democrats have repeatedly argued that is a non-starter.
“The DNC’s waiver requirement is unrealistic and unattainable, as the New Hampshire Democratic Party cannot dictate to the Republican governor and state legislative leaders what to do, and because it does not have the power to change the primary date unilaterally,” Buckley has repeatedly emphasized.
If New Hampshire is eventually ruled non-compliant, the state could lose half of its delegates to next summer’s Democratic presidential nominating convention, under DNC penalties passed last year.
That appears to be the route ahead.
Scanlan announced at a news conference Wednesday that the filing period for presidential candidates to sign up to put their name on the New Hampshire ballot will extend from Oct. 11 to Oct. 27. That is about three weeks earlier than four years ago during the 2020 cycle, when the New Hampshire primary was held on Feb. 11. Scanlan said such a filing period would likely lead to a January primary.
“I don’t think it’s a secret that we’ll be going ahead of South Carolina, which puts us into January,” Scanlan emphasized.
“I’m just assuming we’re going to be in noncompliance with the Democratic National Committee,” Scanlan told Fox News.
Pointing to a DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting, Scanlan emphasized that “we’ll see what comes out of that. But that’s not going to affect what we do in New Hampshire at all.”
There are plenty of Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire who see the upending of their leadoff positions as sour grapes from Biden, who finished a disappointing fourth in the 2020 Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary, before a second-place finish in Nevada and a landslide victory in South Carolina propelled him toward the nomination and eventually the White House.
With New Hampshire nearly certain to move up the date of its contest, President Biden will likely stay off the ballot in the Granite State to avoid an unsanctioned primary. With Biden’s two primary challengers — environmental lawyer and high-profile vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and best-selling author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson — taking aim at the president and the DNC as they repeatedly campaign in New Hampshire, trouble could be brewing for the president in the Granite State’s primary.
However, Buckley says there is a near consensus among New Hampshire Democrats in writing in Biden’s name on the primary ballot.
“Whether or not Joe Biden puts his name on the ballot, he will win the New Hampshire Primary,” Buckley told Fox News recently.
Longtime New Hampshire based Democratic strategist Jim Demers, a top Biden supporter, said there’s “a lot of interest out there in doing something.”
“I think he has done a good job as president and is worthy of being re-elected. That is my primary reasoning for writing Joe Biden’s name in come January if I have to,” Demers told Fox News.
Pointing to Kennedy, who charges he is not getting a fair shake from the DNC as he challenges the president for the Democratic nomination, Demers said, “I also think that the views and positions that Robert Kennedy has taken are so out of touch with the average Democrat that it is concerning to see him on a ballot here, even if the election is non-binding.”