Filing period for New Hampshire presidential primary opens

Politics

New Hampshire, with its state law requiring its primaries to be held first, is defying the Democratic National Committee’s new primary calendar which calls for South Carolina to kick off voting on Feb. 3, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada.

New Hampshire Deputy Secretary of State Patricia Lovejoy looks on as Secretary of State David Scanlan talks.
New Hampshire Deputy Secretary of State Patricia Lovejoy, left, looks on as Secretary of State David Scanlan explains that he will not use an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to block former President Donald Trump from the ballot in the state that will hold the first Republican presidential primary next year, at the Statehouse, in Concord, N.H., Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. AP Photo/Holly Ramer

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire presidential primary filing period starts Wednesday, a ritual unruffled by either a changing of the guard or changes to the nominating calendar elsewhere.

For the first time in more than four decades, candidates will file paperwork with a new secretary of state thanks to the retirement last year of longtime elections chief Bill Gardner. But his successor, David Scanlan, is carrying on the tradition of ensuring New Hampshire remains first, waiting for the dust to settle in other states before scheduling the 2024 contest.

“I’m really in no hurry,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

In contrast, the candidates themselves — particularly the longshots — often are in a race to sign up first in hopes that a bit of media attention will boost their campaigns. In 1991, a writer from New York drove 11 hours in a snowstorm only to find another perennial candidate waiting at the door. In 2007, a Minnesota fugitive living in Italy sent a package by courier that arrived just before an ex-convict embarked on a 90-minute rant that included five costume changes.

Current candidates have until Oct. 27 to sign up, and dozens are expected to do in part because it’s relatively cheap and easy. They need only meet the basic requirements to be president, fill out a one-page form and pay a $1,000 filing fee.

In 2020, 33 Democrats and 17 Republicans signed up. The all-time high was 1992, when 61 people got on the ballot. But this cycle could be notable instead for whose name isn’t on the ballot.

New Hampshire, with its state law requiring its primaries to be held first, is defying the Democratic National Committee’s new primary calendar which calls for South Carolina to kick off voting on Feb. 3, followed by New Hampshire and Nevada. The shakeup came at the request of President Joe Biden in a bid to empower Black and other minority voters crucial to the party’s base.

Biden’s campaign won’t comment on whether he will be on the ballot in New Hampshire. But he wouldn’t be the first reelection-seeking incumbent missing from the primary ballot: President Lyndon Johnson won the 1968 Democratic primary as a write-in, though a shockingly strong-second place showing by Sen. Eugene McCarthy helped push him out of the race.

Scanlan, who served as deputy secretary of state for 20 years, said he was excited to welcome candidates starting Wednesday. Like his predecessor, he plans to greet them with a few encouraging words, but don’t expect the obscure trivia Gardner often added.

“I don’t have any history lessons planned,” Scanlan said. “That was Bill’s style, and he was really, really good at it.”


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