N.H. Gov. Sununu stands firm against Dems’ plan to cancel the state’s first-in-the-nation primary

N.H. Gov. Sununu stands firm against Dems' plan to cancel the state's first-in-the-nation primary

President Biden’s push to upend the 2024 nomination calendar is running into a massive roadblock in New Hampshire: Gov. Chris Sununu and his fellow Republicans.

Mr. Sununu, a possible presidential contender, has made it crystal clear that New Hampshire is not going to fall in line with Mr. Biden and the Democratic National Committee in their push to have South Carolina supplant New Hampshire as the first-in-the-nation primary.

“We’re going first no matter what,” Mr. Sununu told USA Today. “The White House badly mismanaged this, and the blowback has been extraordinary from all levels of the Democrat party.”

The comments underscore the challenge facing Democrats as they look to shake up the nomination calendar.

State law mandates New Hampshire play host to the country’s first presidential primary. 

Mr. Sunnunu and the GOP-controlled state legislature have no interest in changing the law on behalf of Democrats.

“They realize how bad this is. Now they’re trying to buy time. They keep stalling,” Mr. Sununu said. “I hope they come to their senses and have the guts to reverse their decision.”

Under the current proposal, South Carolina would go first on Feb. 3, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada on Feb. 6, Georgia on Feb. 20, and Michigan on Feb. 27.

The DNC has warned that states that refuse to fall in line will face penalties, including losing delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

The full DNC is expected to take up the proposed changes this year, and the bylaws and rules committee is set to meet next week to take up state requests for more time.

In the 2020 nomination race, Mr. Biden placed fourth in the Iowa caucuses, fifth in the New Hampshire primary and second in the Nevada caucus before winning the South Carolina primary with strong support from Black voters, which acted as a springboard to the nomination.

Iowa has led off the nomination contest since 1972. New Hampshire has held the first primary since 1920.

The two states have been criticized for being too White and too rural, and not reflective of the more diverse base of the Democratic Party.

Iowa’s caucus system, meanwhile, has been under intense scrutiny over the years and things came to a head in 2020 when the state’s system for reporting results melted down, delaying the count and embarrassing Democrats.

New Hampshire Democrats, including the congressional delegation, have criticized the proposed calendar changes.

More than 20 current and former party leaders urged the White House this week to rethink the push.

“While we share your desire to elevate more diverse voices in the process, we believe that the proposed schedule could wreak havoc on Democrats up and down the ticket in New Hampshire and unnecessarily jeopardize four critical electoral votes in your re-election campaign,” the 22 New Hampshire Democrats said in a letter to the White House this week.

They reminded the White House that Mr. Sununu and state Republicans stand in the way of the party’s demand that New Hampshire moves the primary and pass legislation expanding access to mail-in voting.

“We also fear — if you decline to file in the New Hampshire primary — that you may lose the first presidential primary of 2024, create an unnecessary distraction for your campaign, and diminish your great record over the past two years,” they wrote. “Regardless of what the DNC decides, state law ensures that our primary will continue to go first, thereby giving an opportunity for another candidate to file here and capitalize on the growing anger toward national Democrats.”

“It is safe to say that this is likely not how you would like to kick off your re-election and it would only fuel chatter that Democrats are divided and in disarray,” they said.

The DNC is scheduled to meet for its winter meeting next month in Philadelphia.

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