Democrats’ potential primary schedule reorganizing puts New Hampshire seat on the line


The Democratic National Committee’s plan to potentially reshuffle its 2024 early presidential primary schedule opened up one of its most vulnerable incumbents to GOP attacks.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, New Hampshire Democrat, who ousted Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte by a 0.1 percent margin in 2016, is leading three potential GOP challengers by 3 to 4 points according to a Data for Progress poll of 903 likely voters released last month.

Ms. Hassan was the target of mockery by New Hampshire Republicans, including Gov. Chris Sununu who said she failed to convince the DNC that their state should retain its first-in-the-nation primary position.

“Unlike the Republican Party, which is committed to New Hampshire remaining First in the Nation, the Democrats aren’t even hiding it anymore,” Mr. Sununu said in a statement. “Joe Biden is planning to take away the New Hampshire Primary, but won’t admit to it until after the Midterms in an attempt to fool NH voters and save Senator Hassan, who made the pitch to the DNC and failed.”

The DNC’s rules and bylaws committee has met for several weeks to decide whether to change its early presidential nominating schedule ahead of the 2024 election, which for decades has had Iowa as the first nominating caucus followed by New Hampshire as the first primary state.

However, DNC members cited both states’ dearth of diversity and last cycle’s electoral breakdown during the Iowa Democratic caucuses, which brought about the debate over whether to remove both states’ first-in-the-nation statuses.

Since DNC members met in June, 17 states now want to become one of the first five states that Democratic presidential primary candidates politically serenade throughout the campaign cycle to gain early momentum that can help springboard them onto their party’s ticket.

Committee co-chairs Minyon Moore and James Roosevelt Jr. sent members a memo in late July saying states are still “answering several final but critical questions regarding election administration and feasibility.” Following the midterms, the committee said, it will “reconvene to update our evaluation of the applicant pool and work towards a final decision to present to the full DNC for a vote.”

As part of the pitch, Ms. Hassan and fellow New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen reportedly argued to the DNC that removing their state from its spearhead position may damage Ms. Hassan’s reelection prospects if voters blame her for the decision.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley swiped back at Mr. Sununu accusing the governor of having a “meltdown” over the issue.

“Our whole delegation has been powerfully making the case for New Hampshire to the DNC and we will continue making the case that New Hampshire’s primary should remain first in the nation,” Mr. Buckley said in a statement to The Washington Times. “Sununu’s meltdown was not only wildly inappropriate, but way off base and he knows it.”

However, the New Hampshire GOP says the DNC has already made up its mind, and Democratic lawmakers in their state condone the action.

“New Hampshire’s ‘First in The Nation’ Primary has been a tradition for both Republicans and Democrats for over 100 years. Even though they are delaying their answer to the primary schedule until after the election, the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee already voted on the poison pill; which very explicitly targets New Hampshire,” NHGOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek said.

“This attempt to take away the ‘First In The Nation’ status is nothing less than an insult to New Hampshire citizens. Maggie Hassan, Annie Kuster, and Chris Pappas are not only fully aware of this decision but fully support it.”

Veteran Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf, though, does not think his party is ready to unload New Hampshire and Iowa as the first two states on their primary schedule. 

“Tradition,” Mr. Sheinkpf said. “Breaking tradition might be more punishing.”


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