Defying Democrats, New Hampshire Secretary of State Sets Jan. 23 Primary
CONCORD, N.H. — Bucking the wishes of the Democratic National Committee, New Hampshire’s secretary of state on Wednesday said the state’s presidential primaries will be held on Jan. 23, 2024, extending its century-old streak of holding the first-in-the-nation primary.
Speaking in the Hall of Flags in the New Hampshire State House, Secretary of State David Scanlan, a Republican, wasted little time before rebuking the Democratic Party for challenging the state’s position in the primary season.
“Our first-in-the-nation status is … being challenged by the Democratic National Committee due to alleged concerns over lack of racial diversity. Their pundits have claimed New Hampshire is too White, and by extension, too privileged,” Scanlan said.
“A couple of months ago, I heard a former chair of the DNC on a talk show ask the voters of New Hampshire if they know what it is like to live on a dirt road. The answer, of course, is yes, we do,” he continued.
Scanlan went on to accuse the Democrats of using racial diversity as a “cudgel” to rearrange the presidential nominating calendar, and called it “an ugly precedent.”
“At what point does a state become too old or too wealthy, or too educated or too religious to hold an early primary?” he asked. “The truth is, there is no individual state that truly reflects the make-up of America, and no state is more ‘American’ than any other state.
“With that said, diversity is not the real issue at play in this debate. At stake is who gets to determine the nominee of the party,” Scanlan said. “The elites on a national party committee by controlling the nominating calendar or the voters? New Hampshire believes the voters of each state should decide who they prefer as the nominee to be president, not power brokers in Washington, D.C.”
State law requires New Hampshire’s Republican and Democratic primaries to be held at least seven days before any similar contest and gives the secretary of state sole authority to set the date.
Republicans will kick off the nominating process with the Iowa caucus on Jan. 15, 2024.
New Hampshire’s primary eight days later will be a crucial opportunity for GOP candidates to show they can remain competitive against former President Donald Trump, the early front-runner for their party’s presidential nomination.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in particular has put New Hampshire at the center of his strategy.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy are also on the ballot trying to emerge as the chief Trump opponent.
Twenty lesser known names have also filed to run in the Republican primary in New Hampshire.
Iowa’s Democrats also will caucus on Jan. 15, 2024, but not release the presidential results until Super Tuesday, on March 5, in order to comply with new party rules requested by President Biden, who argued Black and other minority voters should play a larger, earlier role in selecting the party nominee.
Iowa and New Hampshire are each more than 90% White.
The Democratic National Committee approved a new calendar with a primary in South Carolina, which has a large Black population, on Feb. 3, 2024, followed three days later by Nevada.
The schedule also moves Michigan into the group of early states voting before Super Tuesday, when most of the rest of the country holds primaries.
Biden won’t appear on the New Hampshire ballot and isn’t planning to campaign there, though the names of some 21 other Democrats will be on the ballot.
As a result, several of the state’s top Democratic officials are organizing a write-in campaign backing his reelection bid.
New Hampshire has held the first-in-the-nation primary since 1920, and Scanlan noted during his remarks that just last Monday, he attended the funeral of Sybil Dupuis, the great-granddaughter of Stephen Bullock, the life-long farmer and the Democratic state representative who authored New Hampshire’s presidential primary law.
“New Hampshire … has been first ever since. Nearly 50 years ago, a former Democratic state senator named Jim Splaine helped protect that tradition by sponsoring the state law requiring the New Hampshire presidential primary be held at least seven days before any similar event,” the secretary of state continued. “We did not take the first-in-the-nation status from anyone, and we will vigorously defend it.”
Later, Scanlan spoke of the rich tradition of grassroots Democracy in the Granite State, saying, “New Hampshire government is designed from the bottom up, not the top down.
“Our political culture and traditions reflect that. New Hampshire is the antithesis of a national primary, or a regional primary, or a large state primary where only the wealthy, well-known or politically anointed candidates can compete,” he said.
“A small state geographically, with a population of 1.4 million citizens, New Hampshire is the one place where any qualified United States citizen can run for president and have a shot. If you had the childhood dream of growing up to be president of the United States, you can try to make that a reality in New Hampshire,” Scanlan continued. “That fact, after all, is the purest form of the American dream.
The secretary of state closed by noting how easy it is for anyone to get on the New Hampshire presidential ballot.
All one has to do, he said, is “fill out a one-page declaration of candidacy form and payment of a $1,000 filing fee. If a candidate cannot afford the fee, 100 nomination signatures can be collected from around the state instead,” he said, noting, “It is far easier for most candidates to run for president in the New Hampshire primary than it is for them to run in their home state.
“This state has a receptive and engaged electorate, a trait that has developed and matured over the last 100 years. For a lesser-known candidate, being able to run in a lead-off primary is critical to their potential success. For the most part, they are serious candidates who believe they have something to offer the country, and New Hampshire voters will give them a shot,” Scanlan said.