New Hampshire Secretary of State Dave Scanlan holds a press conference to announce the date of the 2024 New Hampshire presidential primary. (Ethan DeWitt | New Hampshire Bulletin)
Defying the wishes of the Democratic National Committee, Secretary of State Dave Scanlan announced Wednesday that New Hampshire will hold its 2024 presidential primaries on Jan. 23, the first state in the country scheduled to do so.
Speaking at a press conference flanked by Republican and Democratic state party leaders, Scanlan said the primary date would fulfill New Hampshire’s tradition and statutory requirement that the state hold the first-in-the-nation primary.
“If you have the childhood dream of growing up to be president of the United States, you can try and make that a reality in New Hampshire,” Scanlan said. “That fact, after all, is the purest form of the American Dream.”
The announcement puts New Hampshire Democrats at odds with the Democratic National Committee, whose members voted in February to approve a primary calendar that advocated for South Carolina taking the first primary position on Feb. 3. That calendar saw New Hampshire and Nevada sharing the second position on Feb. 6. The shuffle was made after criticism among Democrats about New Hampshire and Iowa’s lack of diversity compared to the rest of the country.
State Democratic leaders had vowed that New Hampshire would hold its primary before other states regardless of the DNC’s decision; Wednesday’s announcement makes that official. New Hampshire’s Jan. 23 voting day will be a “rogue primary,” a status that could lead to the national party penalizing Democratic presidential candidates who campaign here by reducing or negating delegates at the convention.
President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election, will not appear on the Democratic primary ballot after declining to file last month, citing New Hampshire’s lack of compliance with the DNC calendar that he had proposed. Democratic supporters of Biden have launched a write-in effort to make him the state’s nominee anyway.
In total 21 Democrats and 24 Republicans filed to run for president in the state, Scanlan said.
New Hampshire’s Jan. 23 primary date places the state’s election one week after the Iowa Republican caucus, which will be held Jan. 15, and 11 days before the South Carolina Democratic primary on Feb. 3.
The Republican National Committee has committed to keeping the traditional presidential primary calendar next year: Republicans will vote in Iowa on Jan. 15, New Hampshire on Jan. 23, Nevada and the Virgin Islands on Feb. 8; and South Carolina on Feb. 24.
Democrats, meanwhile, will vote in New Hampshire on Jan. 23, in South Carolina on Feb. 3, in Nevada on Feb. 6, and in Michigan on Feb 27.
Some states, like South Carolina, Iowa, and Nevada, are holding each party’s primary or caucus on separate dates; New Hampshire state law does not permit a split primary.
Scanlan argued the early primary date would ensure New Hampshire residents could remain central to the election of the president.
“At stake is who gets to determine the nominee of the party: elites on a national party committee by controlling the nominating calendar, or the voters?” Scanlan said.
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