The Democratic National Committee on Saturday approved President Biden’s proposal to dramatically alter the state lineup for Democrats’ presidential primary calendar, placing South Carolina in the leadoff spot in a bid to give minority voters more representation in shaping the party’s lineup.
The move, which would put South Carolina as the lead state on the election calendar, angered party officials in New Hampshire, which has long held the first primary contest for the presidency.
New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said he is “extremely concerned about the effects this calendar will have on our purple battleground state,” in a statement following the vote which took place during the DNC’s winter meeting in Philadelphia.
“We were proud to deliver our four Electoral College votes to President Biden in 2020,” Mr. Buckley said. “Next year, those four votes can be the difference between sending President Biden back to the White House or ceding it to Republicans.”
“Our focus is reelecting President Biden, winning the open race for governor, keeping our two battleground congressional seats, and regaining our legislative majorities — priorities that will be made infinitely harder by the DNC’s likely sanctions,” he added.
Mr. Buckley vowed to challenge the decision noting that “New Hampshire law requires us to hold the first-in-the-nation primary, and state Republican leaders have made clear that will not change.”
Under the new plan, South Carolina would hold its primary on Feb. 3, 2024, followed by the New Hampshire and Nevada primaries three days later.
The primary shakeup is a departure from the decades-old calendar which has been led by the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primaries.
Under the new plan, Iowa has also been ousted from the party’s early February primary push.
Supporters of the new plan say putting South Carolina first empowers minority voters who have long been reliable supporters of the Democratic Party.
Mr. Biden‘s victory in South Carolina helped salvage his 2020 campaign after disappointing showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada and put him on a path to the party’s nomination.
The DNC has called on New Hampshire to amend its state law guaranteeing its lead position in both parties’ primary lineup, though such a move is unlikely to get past New Hampshire’s GOP-controlled state legislature and bottom-lined by the state’s Republican governor.
The DNC has set a June deadline for New Hampshire to come into compliance with the DNC’s new primary lineup.
- Seth McLaughlin contributed to this report.