A previous version of this article gave an incorrect first name for New Hampshire’s secretary of state. It is David Scanlan, not Dan Scanlan. The article has been corrected.
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan set his state’s presidential primary for Jan. 23, formalizing its defiance of the Democratic National Committee’s reworked primary calendar, which aims to give voters in more racially diverse states an early voice in the nominating process.
“We did not take the first-in-the-nation primary from anyone, and we will vigorously defend it,” Scanlan said Wednesday at a news conference in Concord, N.H. Referencing the DNC’s criticism, Scanlan said, “Using racial diversity as a cudgel in an attempt to rearrange the presidential nominating calendar is 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 makeup of America and no state is more American than any other state.”
The DNC did not respond to a request for comment.
The DNC approved a plan this year to shuffle the order in which states would appear in its 2024 primary calendar. The plan calls for South Carolina to be the first primary state, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada a week later, then Michigan. Proponents of the plan — including President Biden — have argued that South Carolina was much more diverse than Iowa and New Hampshire, which traditionally have held the first-in-the-nation caucuses and primary election, respectively. South Carolina is where Biden’s struggling campaign in 2020 won a crucial victory that helped propel him to the party’s nomination.
New Hampshire law requires its primaries to be held at least seven days before any others. Iowa, which previously held an early spot on the calendar for its caucuses, agreed to relinquish its first-in-the-nation status after lengthy negotiations with the DNC.
Biden’s reelection campaign intentionally missed a filing deadline in October to appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot, saying that doing so would be in violation of the new DNC rules.
“While the president wishes to participate in the Primary, he is obligated as a Democratic candidate for President to comply with the Delegate Selection Rules for the 2024 Democratic National Convention promulgated by the Democratic National Committee,” Biden’s campaign manager, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, wrote in an Oct. 24 letter to Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. The Washington Post obtained a copy of the letter.
Scanlan said last month that Biden’s decision to forgo the state’s primary was “not unexpected but still disappointing.”
Twenty-one candidates will appear on New Hampshire’s Democratic presidential primary ballot, including long-shot Biden challengers Marianne Williamson and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) and such lesser-known candidates as performance artists Paperboy Love Prince of Brooklyn and Vermin Supreme of Massachusetts. Biden supporters launched a campaign in late October to get New Hampshire voters to write in the president’s name when they vote in the 2024 primary.
“Diversity is not the real issue at play in this debate,” Scanlan said Wednesday. “At stake is who gets to determine the nominee of the party? The elites on a national party committee by controlling a nominating calendar or the voters?”