New Hampshire Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan announced they are skipping the White House congressional ball Monday in protest over President Biden’s support of a plan to end their state’s century-long reign as the nation’s first primary.
In separate statements, Ms. Shaheen and Ms. Hassan said they are taking a pass in support of their home state.
Ms. Shaheen’s statement said the Biden-backed primary plan “unnecessarily makes Democrats in New Hampshire, from the top to the bottom of the ticket vulnerable in 2024.”
Ms. Hassan called the plan “deeply misguided,” adding that the state’s small size enables candidates “from all walks of life to complete and engage in the unique retail politics that are a hallmark of our state.”
The Congressional Ball is a long-honored holiday tradition in Washington in which lawmakers attend a formal event at the White House hosted by the first lady.
A Democratic National Committee panel voted on Friday to make South Carolina the first state in the nation to cast ballots in 2024. That would replace Iowa as the first caucus in the country and move the New Hampshire and Nevada primaries to three days later.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the plan, saying that Mr. Biden is keeping his promise to promote diversity.
“To him, respecting our diversity as a nation and breaking down barriers for our people is a fundamental principle,” she said.
Ms. Jean-Pierre said 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.”
The Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary have been first and second for decades, and both states are largely White. Mr. Biden and the Democrats pushed for the change so more diverse voters can weigh in earlier in the election process.
The change is also viewed as a nod by Mr. Biden to Rep. James Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat and an influential member of the congressional black caucus, whose support in 2020 was considered crucial to the president winning the party’s nomination.
The changes are set to be in effect for the 2024 presidential election and have been vocally supported by Mr. Biden.
“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,” the president wrote in a letter to the DNC.
The DNC has not yet formally adopted the new schedule but is expected to make the decision sometime next year.