NH Democrats gather at a convention with an eye on 2024 elections
This Saturday, while dozens of parents and teenagers cheered at the Bulldogs’ game at the Bedford High School football field, inside the school halls about 500 New Hampshire Democrats mingled and discussed threats to U.S democracy.
The party’s annual convention drew activists from all over the state for training sessions, such as where to find voters in 2024 and how to engage with them, and speeches from politicians, including Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.
Lebanon City Councilor Karen Liot Hill said she was focused more on what is happening in New Hampshire politics. She said it was difficult to watch Republican legislators bring forward bills to restrict the reproductive rights and the rights of LGBTQ+ people. She’s also concerned about where education policy is heading in New Hampshire. But she said the convention gives her hope.
“It is nice to be together with people who are fighting against those attacks,” she said.
But others, like State Rep. Linda Harriott-Gathrightt, of Nashua, said there is still a lot to do inside the party. Gathright says she is confident in President Joe Biden’s reelection chances, but she hopes he and other Democrats will work harder to prioritize racial justice and inclusion.
“What are we doing to combat racism, sexism, religiousism and all the -isms?” she said. “They should have some type of a plan in place of what things are acceptable versus not acceptable.”
Harriot-Gathright said New Hampshire Democrats must advocate for more inclusion, not only in New Hampshire communities. She said racism and inequality is not happening in just a few states, but all over the country — so efforts to combat those issues should go beyond those places.
“They must think about the U.S. as a whole,” she said.
Harriot-Gathright said her main concern is Black communities' low access to health services. Elsewhere at the convention, 17-year-old Zoe Hill from Lebanon is also worried about health accessibility, particularly gender-affirming care.
“I think that it is really important that we protect and we educate people on truly what it means to be trans,” they say. “That it is not this scary thing that people in the far right say it is. It is perfectly normal and should be celebrated.”
Hill said they were excited about meeting other Democratic party leaders, including those from the Black/African American and Latinx caucuses, at the convention.
Leading up to 2024, New Hampshire Democrats have been feuding with the national party over the primary calendar, which would put South Carolina in the leadoff spot. The New Hampshire Secretary of State has not yet announced a primary date but has vowed to keep it first-in-the-nation, earlier than any other state.