By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – Following state law and tradition since 1920, New Hampshire will hold the first Presidential primary in the nation on Jan. 23, 2024.
Refusing to bow to pressure from the national Democratic Party which sought to take that coveted role away from the Granite State, Secretary of State David Scanlan made the announcement in the historic Hall of Flags at the State House, which is rarely allowed to be used for press announcements, before a throng of national media and political leaders from both Republican and Democratic parties who have unified in support of Scanlan’s position.
The date complies with New Hampshire statute requiring the presidential primary to be held at least seven days before any similar event and he said it preserves the position of the traditional Iowa Caucus to go ahead of the primaries.
There are 21 Democrats have filed to run in New Hampshire’s primary , but not President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election but chose not to be on the ballot here because the National Democratic Party chose South Carolina to be first this time around.
Republicans have held that New Hampshire should go first and have 24 candidates on the Republican primary ballot.
Scanlan said it remains to be seen what the ramifications will be from the Democrats and that it just might be that delegates to the party’s national convention might not be able to get into the convention building to be seated, but he said it was his duty to schedule the vote in accordance with state law.
In a fitting gesture to soldiers who carried into war some of the bullet-riddled and torn flags behind him, carried by those from the “Live Free or Die” state, Scanlan noted he was not bowing to pressure and contention that Democrats hold that New Hampshire’s population is too white and thereby too privileged to go first.
In fact, U.S. Census data for 2020 shows the state’s almost 1.4 million residents are 92.4 percent white.
“Diversity is not the real issue at play in this debate. At stake is who gets to determine the nominee of the party. The elites on a national party committee 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. That is why Rep. Stephen Bullock wrote New Hampshire’s Presidential Primary law in the first place. In New Hampshire, candidates of different ethnic backgrounds, genders, religions, and financial means have done well here, sometimes to the dismay of the national political parties,” Scanlan said.
He went on to say: “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.
“That fact, after all, is the purest form of the American Dream. Ballot access is extremely easy by filling 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. 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.
He introduced former Democratic State Senator Jim Splaine who helped protect that 1920 tradition nearly 50 years ago by sponsoring the state law requiring New Hampshire go one week before any other primary.
Gov. Chris Sununu also addressed the gathering in support of the decision.
He noted New Hampshire’s historic high voter turnout rate and said New Hampshire takes its role “really seriously.”
“We haven’t changed a thing,” Sununu said. “We are the ones who are trying to make it consistent.”