A key Democratic National Committee panel is giving Georgia and New Hampshire more time to make changes that would allow them to be part of a group of five states kicking off the party’s revamped presidential primary calendar.

But top committee members blasted Granite State Democrats for the relentless opposition to the new proposed schedule, which would upend the New Hampshire’s cherished century-old position as the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

During a virtual meeting on Wednesday evening, members of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee voted unanimously to give Georgia and New Hampshire until early June to come into compliance with the new proposed calendar. But in the latest chapter in this combustible Democratic Party feud, members of the panel said they were shocked by the pushback by New Hampshire Democrats, which they called “disturbing” and “irresponsible.”

“It does not help us. It doesn’t help the party … to have this divisiveness and to share it in public,” Lee Saunders, a DNC Rules and Bylaws committee member and labor leader, emphasized. “We should never talk like that within the DNC.”


The Democratic National Committee's Rules and Bylaws Committee holds a virtual meeting, on Jan. 25, 2023. The panel voted unanimously to give Georgia and New Hampshire more time to come into compliance with the party's new nominating calendar

The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee holds a virtual meeting, on Jan. 25, 2023. The panel voted unanimously to give Georgia and New Hampshire more time to come into compliance with the party’s new nominating calendar

New Hampshire for a century has held the first primary in the race for the White House, and for the past half-century it has held the second contest in both major political parties’ presidential nominating calendars, following the Iowa caucuses.

For years, plenty of Democrats have knocked Iowa and New Hampshire as unrepresentative of the party as a whole for being largely White with few major urban areas. Nevada and South Carolina, which in recent cycles have voted third and fourth in the calendar, are much more diverse than either Iowa or New Hampshire.


While Republicans are making no changes to the top of the 2024 nominating calendar, the DNC is shaking things up. Their proposal, which cleared a key first hurdle when it was overwhelmingly approved last month by the Rules and Bylaws Committee, moves South Carolina to the leadoff position in the Democrats’ primary calendar, on Feb. 3, 2024, with New Hampshire and Nevada holding primaries three days later, followed by Georgia and Michigan. National Democratic insiders say the plan, proposed by President Biden, is expected to be approved by the full DNC membership when they gather in Philadelphia next week.

A sign marking New Hampshire's cherished century old tradition of holding the nation's first presidential primary in the White House race stands across the street from the state capitol building, in Concord, N.H., on Dec. 7, 2022.

A sign marking New Hampshire’s cherished century old tradition of holding the nation’s first presidential primary in the White House race stands across the street from the state capitol building, in Concord, N.H., on Dec. 7, 2022.
(Fox News )

The DNC is also insisting that New Hampshire, in order to keep its early voting slot in the new calendar, needs to scrap a decades-old state law that protects its first-in-the-nation primary status and must expand legislation to expand access to early voting. With Republicans in control of the governor’s office and both houses of the state legislature, state Democrats argue that’s that’s a non-starter in New Hampshire.

That means the DNC could penalize New Hampshire and any candidates that take part in the Granite State’s Democratic presidential primary for violating the party’s new calendar. Republican Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, and state Republicans, have repeatedly slammed Biden and the DNC and last week Sununu reiterated that “we’re going first no matter what.”

Longtime New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Ray Buckley told Fox News last week that “we applaud his [President Biden’s] efforts to elevate Black voters. We are very supportive of that effort. But you can elevate Black and Latino voices without jumping over New Hampshire.”


Buckley and the state’s all Democratic congressional delegation have waged a full-court press following the announcement of the president’s proposal and have been successful in grabbing plenty of national media attention over the past two months. They have also argued that they were surprised by the move last month to upend New Hampshire’s placement in the nominating calendar.

“I was also taken aback and, quite frankly, shocked that this was somehow unexpected,” longtime leading DNC official Leah Daughtry emphasized. “I have been at every rules meeting, and to my recollection, it has come up at every single meeting that we have had.”

“Hanging their argument on this 100-year-old privilege, for me as an African American woman, is quite disturbing in as much as this law was passed even before Black people had the right to vote,” Daughtry emphasized.

Joanne Dowdell, New Hampshire’s only representative on the committee, reemphasized arguments that state Democrats are powerless to make the changes demanded by the DNC because of opposition from Republicans who control the governor’s office and legislature.

“The reality of having a bill pass … it doesn’t exist in this Republican-led majority,” Dowdell said. And she charged that the DNC has “put New Hampshire Democrats in a no-win position.”

But Mo Elleithee, another top DNC official on the panel, highlighted that “the folks in Georgia are remaining optimistic, and they’re doing the work.” Georgia, similar to New Hampshire, has a Republican governor and GOP-controlled legislature.

And Elleithee argued, “I’m a little bit frustrated to hear folks in the New Hampshire’s Democratic establishment sounding more like the Republican governor publicly than arguing that they can get it done as they are in Georgia. There seems to be an echoing of what the Republican establishment in New Hampshire is saying.”

He also reiterated that the DNC, as it moves forward with its new presidential nominating calendar, is “not going to be held hostage to tradition.”

New Hampshire Democrats argue that the changes the DNC is proposing will be a political gift to Republicans in the key northeastern general election battleground state.

Then-former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in front of the New Hampshire State House on Nov. 8, 2019, in Concord, N.H.

Then-former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in front of the New Hampshire State House on Nov. 8, 2019, in Concord, N.H.
(Fox News)

And there’s a warning about Biden’s own re-election chances.


“We also fear — if you decline to file in the New Hampshire primary — that you may lose the first presidential primary of 2024, create an unnecessary distraction for your campaign, and diminish your great record over the past two years,” the New Hampshire Democrats wrote in a recent letter to the DNC protesting the calendar change. “Regardless of what the DNC decides, state law ensures that our primary will continue to go first, thereby giving an opportunity for another candidate to file here and capitalize on the growing anger toward national Democrats. It is safe to say that this is likely not how you would like to kick off your re-election and it would only fuel chatter that Democrats are divided and in disarray.”

Dowdell, while emphasizing that New Hampshire Democrats fully support Biden’s re-election, warned that “This is not how any of us would like to kick off a re-election campaign.”

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