By Alice Giordano
In officially defying the Democratic National Committee’s new primary calendar, the New Hampshire Secretary of State announced on Nov. 15 that the state will hold its primary election on Jan. 23, 2024—11 days ahead of South Carolina.
The move preserves the “Live Free or Die” state’s century-old standing as hosting the first primary election in the nation and is an official answer to months’ worth of promises by New Hampshire officials, both Democrats and Republicans, that it won’t comply with the DNC’s move to bump it to second place.
“We did not take the first-in-the-nation primary from everyone, and we will vigorously defend it,” New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan said at a news conference in the lobby of the state Capitol.
He emphatically disputed the DNC’s claim that New Hampshire isn’t diverse enough to lead off the country in choosing the president and that South Carolina is a truer representation of Americans.
“The truth is, there is no individual state to truly reflect the makeup of America, and no state is more American than any other state,” Mr. Scanlan said. He pointed to a nearby Civil War flag that commemorated fallen soldiers from New Hampshire, noting that it included 125 black soldiers.
He commented on a statement by a former DNC chairman that New Hampshire residents don’t know what it’s like to live on a dirt road.
“The answer to that: Of course, we do. And I would add you cannot truly appreciate living on a dirt road until you have experienced it during New Hampshire’s mud season,” Mr. Scanlan said, in jest.
What Makes New Hampshire Different
New Hampshire does have some uncommon attributes. Besides not having a seat belt law or helmet law for adults, it’s one of only five states without a sales tax and one of only nine states without an income tax. It also remains the only Republican-run state out of the six states that make up New England, although its representatives in Washington are all Democrats.
It’s also home to the Free State Project, a grassroots movement of libertarians who are moving to New Hampshire to protect its limited-government status.
New Hampshire takes its first-in-the-nation primary rank so seriously that there’s a large plaque commemorating it outside of the state library near the Capitol.
In addition to its desire to preserve tradition, New Hampshire—under state law—must hold its presidential primary at least seven days before any other state primary, Mr. Scanlan pointed out.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who also spoke at the news conference, emphasized that New Hampshire is one of a few states where anyone can run for president by simply filing paperwork. He described the state’s primary status as “the first filter” for the rest of the country and said that it was the DNC, not the state, that tried to change that.
“We haven’t changed one thing,” Mr. Sununu said.
According to Mr. Scanlan, there are currently 21 Democrat candidates and 20 Republicans registered to run in New Hampshire’s primaries.
Mr. Scanlan said the DNC’s claim that it needs a more diverse state to lead off the nation’s primary season “is not the real issue,” but instead that it’s about the “party elites” of the DNC controlling who’s the nominee.
Many Cynical About DNC’s Move
Since the DNC announced its new calendar, many have labeled it a move orchestrated by President Joe Biden to make up for his fifth-place finish in New Hampshire in the 2020 primaries.
President Biden did win New Hampshire in the general election over President Donald Trump by a 7 percent margin. He now has one of the lowest approval ratings of a U.S. president within his own party.
With the new date in New Hampshire, South Carolina’s Democratic primary—scheduled for Feb. 3, 2024—will be second.
South Carolina is set to hold its Republican primary on Feb. 24, which for the first time falls after Nevada’s complex Feb. 6 state-run primary and the Feb. 8 Republican Party-run caucus, partially upending South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary tradition.
Iowa also lost its rank under the DNC primary reordering as the first state to hold a presidential caucus to determine the party nominees. It’s now slated to hold the contest on Jan. 15, but plans to not release results until after Super Tuesday on March 5.
Like New Hampshire voters, Iowa voters dealt President Biden what he himself called a “gut punch” in the Democratic caucus. South Carolina, on the other hand, the favored state under the new DNC calendar, put him on top in its 2020 primary.
When the DNC put out its new primary calendar last year, it came with the threat that any state that defied the national party and scheduled its own date would stand to lose delegates in the national convention.
That could, in theory, translate into a national loss. However, President Biden not only carries the advantage of being the incumbent president, but he also doesn’t have much competition.
U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) has declared his candidacy for the presidency, but he has already overwhelmingly been declared a long-shot contestant by his own party.
Meanwhile, President Biden said he won’t participate in the New Hampshire primary if it doesn’t comply with the new DNC calendar.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., once considered a potential upset to President Biden in New Hampshire and other primaries, has switched from being a Democratic competitor to an independent.
Still, Democrats are worried. In October, the entire New Hampshire Democratic Party launched a write-in campaign for President Biden in the state primary, even before knowing the date.
Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, told The Epoch Times just before the Nov. 15 news conference that he didn’t see New Hampshire’s move to preempt the DNC’s assigned date so much as “defying it, but ignoring it.”
He said that he fully supports preserving New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation status. Mr. Buckley has consistently decried the Biden administration-led bump of the state’s primary status and expressed concern about the ramifications.
“What we don’t want is any sanction to have an impact on our ability to carry the state in November of ’24,” he told CBS News in September.