New Hampshire Governor Chris T. Sununu said the state will retain its “first in the nation primary” in 2024 — despite an overhaul of the Democratic National Committee’s primary calendar — at an Institute of Politics JFK Jr. Forum Tuesday evening.
In February, the DNC unanimously approved dramatic changes to the order in which states vote in Democratic primaries and elevated South Carolina to the first position, leaving New Hampshire second in voting.
The DNC has given New Hampshire until June to change its primary date, but Sununu and the New Hampshire State Assembly, including Democrats, said they will not cave to the DNC’s pressure.
“The first in the nation primary is not moving for the Democrats,” said Sununu, who is a Republican.
“It’ll be really interesting to see how it plays out, but we’re going first whether they like it or not,” he added.
Sununu said he received a letter from the DNC, which requested Sununu and the legislature affirm that New Hampshire would vote second.
In a “cordial but firm and snarky” letter responding to the DNC, Sununu said he “laid it out” to both President Joe Biden and the DNC that he would not budge.
“You’re crazy,” Sununu said. “I dare you — come and take it.”
He also disputed the DNC’s justification of elevating states with greater racial diversity for the decision to place the South Carolina primary ahead of New Hampshire.
“They have barely 15 percent voter participation. What’s the point of diversity if you don’t encourage people to get out and vote?” Sununu said.
Sununu alleged political foul play by Biden, describing the President placing South Carolina — the state that turned around his path to the nomination — as “blatant personal political payback to his friends.”
“That’s the worst reason to pick a state to have such political and electoral responsibility,” Sununu said.
“I think Biden has made a horrendous mistake,” he added.
Sununu said he does not believe Biden will be the Democratic nominee in 2024.
“Whether I get into the race or not is a different story,” Sununu said.
Sununu believes that with New Hampshire going ahead with the Democratic primary, Biden will be vulnerable to a challenge from another candidate, suggesting Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker as a threat.
“So anybody, especially if somebody has a lot of money, maybe even a little name ID, could come to New Hampshire, get people excited, be on the ground, and probably win that primary,” Sununu said.
When asked about the New Hampshire state motto, “Live Free or Die,” Sununu described it as more than “four words on a license plate.”
“‘Live Free or Die’ is at the heart of what we are. It is about local government, local control, limited government, low taxes, individual responsibility.” Sununu said.
“My job is to create as many doors of opportunity for you, your family, your kids, your business — as many doors,” he added. “And then you do you. Live free or die.”
Sununu remarked on the connection between the state motto and his decision not to move New Hampshire’s primary date.
“That’s why the first in the nation primary can never be duplicated anywhere else — because we have these fundamentals that are all based in ‘Live Free or Die,’” he said.
—Staff writer Thomas J. Mete can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @thomasjmete.