Democrats Lobby to Axe New Hampshire, Iowa for First Primaries: Population Too White

COLUMBIA, SC - FEBRUARY 11: Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden addresses the crowd during a South Carolina campaign launch party on February 11, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. Biden skipped a primary night event in New Hampshire after the count there showed a distant finish to front …
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Democrats have taken note of Republicans testing the waters in New Hampshire ahead of the 2024 election — including Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), former South Carolina governor and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo— and are lobbying that state and Iowa not hold the first primaries because the populations are too white.

The Boston Globe reported on what Democrats are trying to achieve ahead of the next presidential race:

Many Democrats, including some who ran for president in 2020, say Iowa and New Hampshire shouldn’t hold the nation’s first nominating contests because their majority-white populations don’t reflect the Democratic electorate. 

Those debates are taking place behind the scenes at the Democratic National Committee, as party leaders including former Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Jim Clyburn of South Carolina both say states like theirs should appear sooner on the primary calendar, and Nevada state lawmakers have filed a bill to move to the front of the line.

“We definitely see a need for more diversity in states that are scheduled at the beginning of the election, to properly reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of our country, but also [because] it impacts the issues that are being discussed,” Yadira Sanchez, co-executive director of the advocacy group Poder Latinx, said in the Globe article. “Our diversity demands that we see ourselves reflected in the primary process — and not at the end, when decisions have already been made.”

But politicians on both sides of the aisle in New Hampshire are against it.

“It’s the holy grail,” said Tom Rath, a former New Hampshire attorney general who spent 10 years on the Republican National Committee and who spoke about the issue while he was in office.

“It was clear I had one mission: Keep the primary,” Rath said.

Bill Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democratic National Committeeman, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) husband, is against changing states primary dates and locations.

“One, it’s tradition, and two, we do a great job,” he said.

Shaheen said in the Globe report that New Hampshire’s demographics don’t disqualify it because a small state is a good testing ground for all candidates.

“We create a level playing field,” Shaheen said. “It doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is. We judge people by the content of their character.”

But some experts think changes could take place given the chaos of the Iowa primary in 2020 and Democrats say diversity is a priority for the party to gain power.

Jim Roosevelt, head of the Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, said he thinks they will be discussing the issue at two public meetings this spring even though a final decision would not likely be made for a least a year. 

“New Hampshire state law dictates that it must hold the nation’s first primary, but the national parties set the primary calendar for states,” the Globe reported.

The Globe asked if losing the first spot would result in candidates not coming to the state.

“New Hampshire has never been about the delegates,” Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, told the Globe. “It’s been about the publicity that winning here means for a candidate. Would candidates be willing to give that up? That becomes the question.”

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