New Hampshire senators skipping WH event to protest Biden support for Dem primary changes
New Hampshire Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan will not attend the White House congressional ball on Monday over President Joe Biden's support for changes in the Democratic primary schedule that will reduce the state's influence in the process.
A panel of the Democratic National Committee last week backed making South Carolina the first state on the primary calendar, displacing New Hampshire. It also displaces Iowa as the first state in the nation in the presidential nominating process, though Iowa holds caucuses and not a presidential primary. President Joe Biden lent his support to the measure on the grounds that it would allow the party's diverse constituency to make its voice known earlier in the process, before trailing candidates might drop out.
"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 cast a vote," he said.
The plan still needs final approval at the next full DNC meeting, though New Hampshire's lawmakers worry that its likely implementation will bolster Republicans in their state.
"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 Shaheen spokesperson 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 spokesperson continued.
Hassan's office also confirmed that she would not attend on Monday evening. The senator previously highlighted her state's advantages to trailing candidates as a small state, saying "[b]ecause 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," she wrote, per the outlet. "We will always hold the First in the Nation Primary, and this status is independent of the President's proposal or any political organization."