On the trail: Dave Scanlan’s N.H. primary timetable


For the Monitor

Published: 07-08-2023 10:00 AM

With the start of the 2024 presidential nominating calendar roughly six months away and the Democrat’s primary schedule still very much in flux, New Hampshire Secretary of State Dave Scanlan will soon be receiving plenty of national attention.

Here’s why:

He’s about to schedule the primary earlier than anyone in the national Democratic Party wants.

“The Secretary of State schedules the date of the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary,” Scanlan said in an interview with this reporter.

New Hampshire’s held the first primary in both major parties nominating calendar for a century. And for the last 50 years it’s held the second overall contest, following the Iowa caucuses. While the Republican Party is keeping its order as is – with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada as their first four states to vote in the schedule – the Democrats have upended their lineup.

The Democratic National Committee in early February overwhelming approved a plan by President Joe Biden to move New Hampshire down in the primary schedule. New Hampshire will now vote second in the DNC’s calendar, along with Nevada, three days after South Carolina. The DNC moved Iowa entirely out of their lineup of the early voting – or carve out states – which hold nominating contests ahead of the rest of the nation. The DNC changed the nominating calendar partially in an effort to reflect increased diversity in the Democratic Party. Others see is as sour grapes from Biden after his disappointing fifth place finish in the New Hampshire primary in 2020.

None of that matters to Scanlan, who will follow state law that dictates that New Hampshire’s presidential primary must be held at least seven days before any similar event.

“If South Carolina is scheduled as the first primary, it would be at least seven days before that,” Scanlan said when asked what date he was eyeing for the Granite State’s primary.

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That would likely put the date of the primary into late January.

Scanlan said he is in no rush to set a date.

“We will schedule the filing period, which will happen sometime this fall, and then after that I would expect to announce the date of the primary,” he said of his timetable. “However, we’re just going to watch the developments as they occur and will make decisions based on what happens. We still have plenty of time in this process.”

One of those developments will come later this summer or early autumn, when the DNC will find that New Hampshire is noncompliant with their new calendar.

Scanlan said that fighting to protect the state’s cherished first-in-the-nation presidential primary status is something that transcends New Hampshire’s partisan politics.

“This is a battleground state and our state House of Representatives right now is almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats,” Scanlan said. “It’s polarized. And we have some great debates based on political ideology but I can tell you that there is one issue where the state is united – both Republicans and Democrats – and that is the first in the nation status of the New Hampshire primary.”

Patriotic politics

Six White House hopefuls marched in New Hampshire’s July 4th parades this week.

“The Fourth is not only celebrating independence but celebrating liberty and freedom that are synonyms for independence,” Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina told this reporter after marching in the Merrimack Independence Day parade. “I love the Fourth of July because it reminds me of the men and the women who are willing to sacrifice everything for the cause of freedom. I can’t think of a better day to celebrate are men in uniform, whether it’s backing the blue or whether it’s our military men and women. This is a great day to celebrate who we are.”

Scott underscored the New Hampshire state motto while celebrating the country’s independence. 

“There’s not a better place to call home than America and I can’t think of a better place to celebrate it than this state – the Granite State – Live free or Die,” Scott said. “It’s really synonymous with who we are as Americans.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – who’s currently in second place in the latest GOP presidential nomination poll, trailing former President Donald Trump by double digits but ahead of the rest of the large field of candidates – marched in both the Wolfeboro and Merrimack parades.

DeSantis and Scott briefly huddled at the end of the Merrimack parade.

“Ron and I just had a conversation about our country and about the both of us having the privilege of running for president,” Scott said when asked what the two presidential candidates discussed.

Right now and on deck

Former ambassador to the United Nations and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley arrived in New Hampshire on Thursday for a three-day campaign swing through the northern and central parts of the state. She concludes her tour by headlining a house party in Henniker on Saturday.

Entrepreneur, political commentator, and author Vivek Ramaswamy returns to the state next week.