In a surprising turn of events, the upcoming New Hampshire primary, historically the first in the nation, will unfold without President Biden's name on the ballot. This development marks a significant departure from traditional election proceedings, underscoring the ongoing tensions between the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and New Hampshire legislators.
At the heart of this issue is a reshuffling of the primary calendar by the DNC, aimed at giving states with more diverse populations, such as South Carolina, a greater voice in the early stages of the presidential race. President Biden, who had a less-than-stellar performance in New Hampshire in 2020, finishing fifth, has been a vocal advocate for this change.
Consequently, South Carolina is now poised to hold its Democratic primary on February 3, assuming the spotlight as the inaugural contest.
New Hampshire's Primary Standoff
New Hampshire lawmakers steadfastly refused to relinquish their long-held status as the first primary state, a distinction upheld for over a century.
State law mandates that New Hampshire holds the country's initial presidential primary, setting up a direct conflict with the new DNC directives. In response, President Biden made the strategic decision to exclude his name from the New Hampshire ballot, a move that aligns with the DNC's stance but deviates from traditional election norms.
The DNC's rebuke of New Hampshire's refusal to cede its primary position means that the January 23 results will not contribute delegates, rendering the outcome largely symbolic. Despite this, efforts are underway to mobilize support for President Biden through a write-in campaign, spearheaded by former New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan and a dedicated super PAC.
Sullivan emphasizes the importance of voter participation on January 23, urging New Hampshire residents to write in Biden's name. President Biden is not the first to navigate the complexities of a write-in campaign in New Hampshire.
In 1968, then-President Lyndon Johnson claimed victory in the state as a write-in candidate, though he later withdrew from the race. The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee has been vocal in emphasizing the non-binding nature of New Hampshire's primary this year, with DNC co-chairs urging state party chair Raymond Buckley to inform the public about the event's symbolic status.
This stance prompted a forceful response from New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella, who issued a cease-and-desist against claims of the election being "meaningless," citing voter suppression concerns. The New Hampshire ballot will feature 21 other Democratic candidates, including notable figures like self-help author Marianne Williamson and Representative Dean Phillips (D-Minn.).
As the primary approaches, all eyes are on New Hampshire, not just for the results, but for the broader implications this unusual scenario holds for the Democratic Party and the evolving landscape of American presidential primaries.