Biden won’t appear on New Hampshire Democratic primary ballot. But write-ins are still an option

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President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday Oct. 24, 2023 in Washington, where he will award the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden won’t file to have his name appear on the 2024 New Hampshire Democratic primary ballot, his reelection campaign said Tuesday, opting to skip a contest that the state plans to hold in defiance of a revamped primary order that the White House has championed.

Julie Chavez Rodriguez, manager of Biden’s reelection campaign, wrote in a letter to New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Raymond Buckley that “while the president wishes to participate in the primary, he is obligated to comply” with party rules.

“The president looks forward to having his name on New Hampshire’s general election ballot as the nominee of the Democratic Party after officially securing the nomination at the 2024 Democratic National Convention, where he will tirelessly campaign to earn every single vote in the Granite State next November,” Rodriguez wrote.

Biden last year urged the Democratic National Committee to shake up the order of the 2024 primary, replacing Iowa’s leadoff caucus with the South Carolina primary to better empower Black and other minority voters crucial to the party’s base. In February, the DNC approved a new 2024 calendar, beginning with South Carolina’s primary on Feb. 3, followed three days later by New Hampshire and Nevada.

But New Hampshire has balked at the plan, arguing that it has traditionally held the nation’s opening primary — a rule that Iowa only got around by having caucuses. Top New Hampshire Democrats say state law there mandates hosting the nation’s first primary, and officials have vowed to have a primary prior to South Carolina’s regardless of what the DNC says.

The DNC has warned that such a move would lead to an unsanctioned primary that could trigger sanctions, including New Hampshire potentially losing delegates to the 2024 Democratic convention in Chicago. In the meantime, New Hampshire voters will still be able to write in Biden’s name even during an unsanctioned primary, and some of the state’s top Democrats have organized an effort to encourage write-in support for the president.

New Hampshire has yet to set a formal date for its 2024 primary. But, in response to Chavez’s letter, Buckley released a statement saying, “The reality is that Joe Biden will win the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary in January, win renomination in Chicago and will be re-elected next November.”

Biden isn’t the first sitting president to forgo appearing on New Hampshire’s primary ballot. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson didn’t file for the state’s primary and still won via write-in, though Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy’s strong second-place finish in the state helped push Johnson to announce mere weeks later that he wouldn’t seek reelection.

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