Two New Hampshire lawmakers are boycotting the White House congressional ball on Monday over a plan backed by President Biden that would move the Granite State’s Democratic presidential primary back several days.
Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan will be absent from the festive annual event at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave after expressing their anger over the primary shakeup proposal that the 80-year-old president says will promote more diversity in the nominating process.
“As Senator Shaheen has said, the President’s proposal unnecessarily makes Democrats in New Hampshire, from the top to the bottom of the ticket, vulnerable in 2024,” a spokeswoman for Shaheen told the Hill.
“This did not have to be a mutually exclusive decision – he could have advanced a more diverse state to an earlier date, while maintaining New Hampshire as the first primary election. Instead, New Hampshire Republicans were gifted the political fodder they’ve been waiting for to target Democrats and dissuade Independents from backing Democrats in pivotal local, state and federal elections,” the spokeswoman added.
The Democratic National Committee Rules and Bylaws Committee voted last week to make South Carolina the first state to cast ballots in Democratic presidential nominating contests in 2024, replacing Iowa as the first state.
Under the new arrangement, the Palmetto State would hold its primary on Feb. 3, 2024. Nevada and New Hampshire will hold their primaries three days later, followed by Georgia on Feb. 13 and Michigan on Feb. 27.
Hassan, who is also skipping the ball, has called the Biden-backed plan “deeply misguided.”
“I strongly oppose the President’s deeply misguided proposal for changes to the primary calendar. Make no mistake, New Hampshire’s law is clear and our primary will continue to be First in the Nation,” Hassan wrote on Twitter last week.
“Because of our state’s small size, candidates from all walks of life — not just the ones with the largest war chests — are able to compete and engage in the unique retail politics that are a hallmark of our state. This ensures that candidates are battle-tested and ready to compete for our nation’s highest office,” Hassan continued.
“We will always hold the First in the Nation Primary, and this status is independent of the President’s proposal or any political organization,” she added.
The Post has reached out to the offices of Shaheen and Hassan for comment.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the plan on Monday despite the uproar it has caused in states such as Iowa and New Hampshire.
“To him, respecting our diversity as a nation and breaking down barriers for our people is a fundamental principle,” she said.
Jean-Pierre added that the president is “making sure we see the diversity within his administration that is represented, clearly, across the country and he wants to honor those values.”
In a letter to the DNC last week, Biden said that the results in small state primaries such as New Hampshire have “marginalized” candidates before they get a chance to appeal to a more diverse set of voters.
“Too often over the past fifty years, candidates have dropped out or had their candidacies marginalized by the press and pundits because of poor performances in small states early in the process before voters of color could cast a vote,” Biden wrote.