Democrats issue ultimatum to New Hampshire on first in the nation primary
The Democrats’ attack on New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary — political payback for President Joe Biden’s humiliating loss there — has sparked a high-stakes confrontation that jeopardizes the party’s hold on the Granite State.
The DNC led by Biden is essentially blackmailing New Hampshire to scuttle its law mandating the state to be the first primary or be bumped down in the order of states holding contests.
But the Granite State – whose primary has lost clout over the years – is refusing to give in to the DNC ultimatum, threatening to hold an unsanctioned first primary. New Hampshire has until Feb. 1, 2023, to repeal its first-in-the-nation law but that’s never going to happen.
New Hampshire Democrats like U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen are caught in the middle of the imbroglio, afraid the blowback will come to hurt them. Shaheen this week boycotted a White House holiday party to protest the DNC’s actions.
Democrats have a tenuous hold on the purple state and they can’t afford any disputes that could ignite voters to turn Republican in 2024.
Biden started the confrontation by insisting South Carolina — the state that rescued his candidacy in 2020 — get the first primary honors. The DNC followed by making the schedule official, with New Hampshire’s primary coming in second a few days after South Carolina.
The reason the DNC gave for the move was diversity – South Carolina has a high percentage of Black voters.
But it was really all about getting even.
Biden as a candidate came in an embarrassing fifth place in the 2020 New Hampshire primary and he was all too willing to eject the state from its first-in-the-nation perch. If he runs for re-election, he needs a soft landing to start, and that place would be South Carolina.
At stake is millions of dollars in economic benefit and attention the state gets from hosting the first-in-the-nation contest.
Republicans are moving ahead with plans to have New Hampshire kick off their primary season, ensuring the state will get at least some economic benefits from the event.
Supporters of New Hampshire argue that its voters are more civically engaged than other states, forcing candidates to actually campaign and confront voters there rather than just run ads.
But the Granite State is no longer the kingmaker it used to be. Biden went on to win the nomination despite his New Hampshire loss.
The state has clearly lost its luster, but don’t count it out just yet.