New Hampshire will hold its “first-in-the-nation” presidential primary on January 23 next year, putting the state at odds with national Democrats and President Joe Biden, who will not be on the primary ballot.
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan made the announcement Wednesday at the statehouse in Concord.
“We did not take the first-in-the-nation status from anyone, and we will vigorously defend it,” Scanlan said in front of a bipartisan group that included the state’s GOP governor, Chris Sununu, and the chairs of New Hampshire’s Republican and Democratic parties.
The primary is now scheduled to take place about one week after Iowa holds its Republican caucuses on January 15, setting up the earliest start to the presidential nominating process since 2012.
Under state law, New Hampshire must hold its primary before any other state’s primary.
While the Republican contest in New Hampshire will be recognized by the national party, the January 23 date will make the state’s Democratic primary noncompliant with the Democratic National Committee’s revamped nominating calendar. That will likely cost the state delegates to the national convention next summer.
Under a Biden-backed plan approved by the DNC earlier this year, South Carolina – and not New Hampshire – will be the first state to hold an approved Democratic primary, currently scheduled for February 3. New Hampshire had to hold its primary second – on February 6, the same day as Nevada – or face sanctions, under the plan.
Biden’s campaign told the New Hampshire Democratic Party last month that he won’t be on the primary ballot next year because he was “obligated” to comply with the DNC’s delegate selection rules.
It would be a violation of those rules for Biden, or any Democrat, to campaign in such an early contest in New Hampshire or to even have their name on the ballot, though 21 Democrats, including Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson, will be listed.
However, voters could still back Biden as a write-in candidate on their ballot in January, and there’s already a grassroots campaign underway, backed by prominent state lawmakers and activists, encouraging voters to do so.
Scanlan, a Republican, acknowledged Wednesday that a large number of write-in votes could present extra work for election workers. But he said he’s “fully confident” New Hampshire will report primary results at the end of the night on Election Day.
CNN’s Ethan Cohen contributed to this report.
This story has been updated with additional information.
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