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N.H. primary defenders point to state law after Biden pushes for South Carolina to vote first in 2024

Josh Rogers

President Joe Biden’s rollout of his preferred presidential primary calendar, which would make South Carolina the first state to vote in the 2024 Democratic presidential primary and push New Hampshire’s primary date back a week, to the same day as Nevada would vote, is roiling state political elites.

While the full upshot of Biden’s proposal – which will still need to be approved by the full DNC, remains a bit murky, it's already crystal clear, though, how defenders of New Hampshire’s status plan to keep the state first regardless.

“I feel that the President of the United States has made a very bold statement, about his vision for this country – the importance of diversity,” New Hampshire’s DNC member, Joanne Dowdell noted Friday as party officials discussed Biden’s plan reshuffle of early state primaries.

“I will, however, say that New Hampshire has a statute,” Dowdell continued. “We do have a law, and we will not be breaking our law.”

The law Dowdell was referring to dates to the mid 1970s, and requires that New Hampshire’s presidential primary be held at least a week ahead of any other states. And you could hear the same sentiment, in far shaper tones, on talk radio shows all morning on Friday. .

“The Democrat party does not decide when the Democratic primary is in New hampshire. We are going to go first,” Gov. Chris Sununu noted on Binnie Media’s “Good Morning, New Hampshire.”

“No matter what the Democrats think they can do, it's a national conversation and a bipartisan conversation, and you are never going to make meaningful change without everyone at the table at the same time, and we’ve got the pin in the grenade in the form of a state law,” former WMUR reporter turned public relations man Scott Spradling said on WGIR’s “New Hampshire Today.”

You could hear the same point — made less provocatively – from the man in charge of administering the state’s elections.

“Well, we have the law that says, News Hampshire's primary will go at least seven days before any similar nominating event. And we will follow the law,” Secretary of State David Scanlan said at the statehouse.

Scanlan added that the news out of Washington, while important to many in state politics, wasn’t changing the rhythms of his office.

“We’ve had some press inquiries but it’s not disrupting our daily activities,” Scanlan said

Any final vote changing the lineup of early voting states by the full Democratic National Committee is expected to take place next year.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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