New Hampshire’s nation’s first primary in jeopardy

CONCORD, NH (WCAX) – New Hampshire could lose its coveted first presidential primary in the nation under new rules proposed by President Biden and the Democratic National Committee.

Democrats on Friday voted to remove the Iowa caucus as the leading state on the president’s nomination calendar, replacing it with South Carolina starting in 2024.

The change would also shift New Hampshire from its first primary status in the nation, and it doesn’t sit well with state leaders, including the man charged with overseeing New Hampshire’s elections.

“It’s going to be a fight,” said New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan. Pictures of past primaries cover the walls of his office. State law requires it to come first, and for the past 100 years presidential candidates have flocked to the state, and Scanlan says 2024 will be no different. “It is not the first time that our first primary in the nation has been challenged and in the past we have always held our event first.”

However, South Carolina is poised to take first place on the calendar under a plan by President Biden and the Democratic National Committee. Scanlon and other advocates for New Hampshire retaining first seat say any change would be a blow to the Democratic process. “It’s an easy state to campaign in, the voters are sophisticated, they’re not afraid to ask tough questions and they’re really good at carving the field,” he said.

Others, however, say South Carolina’s electorate is more diverse and more representative of the Democratic Party’s grassroots. And New Hampshire could be fined for ignoring the new calendar. “You could still have your elementary school, but you won’t have delegates sitting in the national assembly,” said John Lappie, a politics professor at Plymouth State University.

If New Hampshire ends up losing its number one status, there could be a huge economic impact as well. The primaries bring in tens of millions of dollars each election cycle. According to Lappie, fewer candidates are likely to run in the state. “If South Carolina officially votes first with delegates, it could cause New Hampshire to lose attention,” he said.

The party leader in New Hampshire released a statement that said, in part, “The DNC didn’t give New Hampshire the nation’s first primary, and it’s not their place to take it away. This news is disappointing, of course, but we will hold our primary first. We have survived past trials over the decades and we will survive this.”

As for what’s next, Scanlan says his office is simply waiting to see how things develop. He says the exact date of New Hampshire’s primary election won’t be announced until next fall.

The debate is all about the Democratic primary. The Republican Party says it intends to keep New Hampshire at the top of its main calendar.

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