Democrats buy time in New Hampshire primary fight

Top Democrats know they have a huge problem on their hands when it comes to the scheduling of New Hampshire’s primary in 2024.

And when they came together this week to brainstorm ways to stop President Joe Biden from handing over the state’s first nominating contest to a fringe candidate, they settled on a tried-and-true resolution: postpone it to a later date. .

The Democratic National Committee’s rules and regulations committee voted as scheduled on Friday to give New Hampshire until September 1 to comply with national party demands to move its primary behind South Carolina in early February — or be kicked out of the official early state window for 2024.

“There’s a space between us and the people of the state on this,” Minyon Moore, co-chairman of the rules and regulations committee, said at Friday’s meeting in Minneapolis. “But as we’ve always said, the president wants New Hampshire to be on the list of early states. And this committee has long agreed that this is a critical condition and should be part of the mix.

But even though the committee gave New Hampshire another three months to come online, there was little reason to expect an out-of-court resolution.

Biden lobbied for changes to the party’s 2024 presidential nomination calendar that stripped New Hampshire of its prized first primary in the nation in a bid to reward South Carolina, propelled to the nomination in 2020. Under the DNC’s plan, New Hampshire would go second, on a date shared with Nevada.

But New Hampshire state law requires it to hold the first primary a week before any other similar contest. And the Republicans who control the governor’s office and the state legislature don’t want to change it. They are also unwilling to pass other changes to election law that the DNC is demanding for states in early 2024.

So on Friday, Democrats were really giving themselves more time to decide if and how they would sanction New Hampshire Democrats if — and, most likely, when — the state goes rogue and holds the first primary anyway. Under penalty that the DNC’s rules and regulations committee passed last year, the state could lose half of its delegates if it breaks the party’s schedule. But there was no mention of penalties during the rules committee’s brief discussion of New Hampshire on Friday.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley did not comment on the latest extension beyond saying he is “looking forward to hearing” from the DNC.

Biden is unlikely to appear on the ballot if New Hampshire goes first, creating a sticky situation in which the president could lose an unofficial first contest to Robert F. Kennedy Jr. or Marianne Williamson, both of whom have indicated that they planned to compete. in New Hampshire, regardless of status or penalties. But Democrats could run a write-in campaign for Biden, to help him avoid early embarrassment en route to his inevitable renomination.

The president is already not getting the 2024 primary calendar he wants. Biden’s original proposal had South Carolina scheduled for Feb. 6, New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 13, Georgia on Feb. 20 and then Michigan on Feb. 27. presidential primary on March 12 – after Super Tuesday.

And Iowa continues to give Democrats a headache trying to squeeze the state out of the first nominating window. Iowa Democrats have submitted a plan for a “reimagined” caucus system that would allow people to participate by mail. But the rules and regulations committee rejected that plan on Friday — sending Iowa back to the drawing board.

Holly Otterbein contributed to this report.

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