‘South Carolina’s first’: SCDP chair after New Hampshire defies Democratic primary calendar

The chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party said the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic...
The chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party said the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary will still be the first in the nation.(Mary Green)
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 5:18 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party said the state’s Feb. 3 Democratic presidential primary will still be the first in the nation.

That’s despite New Hampshire’s announcement Wednesday of the date of its primary: Jan. 23, 11 days before South Carolina’s.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Christale Spain was succinct in describing what that will mean for the Palmetto State’s primary: nothing.

“It is just not a factor. They can go whenever they want to go. South Carolina is the first-in-the-nation primary, and we are excited and honored to host this primary,” she said.

Spain said that is because this is a contest about awarding delegates to win the party’s nomination, which South Carolina will be the first to do after the Democratic National Committee reshuffled its 2024 presidential nominating contest schedule last year.

Before then, South Carolina’s primary was the first in the South but on the calendar behind Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses and New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary.

“New Hampshire is holding a straw poll, right, without all of the straws,” Spain said.

President Joe Biden is skipping New Hampshire’s contest, refusing to file for his name to appear on the primary ballot, and the DNC has threatened to strip the state of its delegates if it jumped the calendar.

The DNC has not yet publicly announced what, if any, consequences the Granite State will face for its defiance.

Shortly after New Hampshire’s announcement Wednesday, DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, a South Carolina native, posted on the social media site X, formerly known as Twitter, that he was “looking forward to taking my boys with me to vote on February 3rd as South Carolina hosts for the very first time the [First in the Nation] Democratic Presidential Primary!”

University of South Carolina political science professor Bob Oldendick said the national party should be cautious in how it proceeds with potential penalties ahead of a general election that polls indicate could be close.

“New Hampshire is a potential swing state,” he said. “So if you punish the Democratic Party there too heavily, then it kind of — well what happens in the general election? Do they just say, ‘Well, we’re just going to stay home,’ or ‘We’re not going to be as supportive?’”

New Hampshire leaders have argued they are bound by their state constitution, which requires the Granite State hold the nation’s first presidential primary.

“It is more about how New Hampshire feels about themselves than anything to do with the Democratic Party,” Oldendick said. “This would probably be a lot bigger story, have a lot more importance to it, if we thought there would be a competitive election on the Democratic side.”

But New Hampshire’s leapfrogging defies the new calendar the DNC set for 2024, putting South Carolina first, at President Biden’s request.

Spain said that choice is still significant.

“South Carolina being first is important to the Democratic Party because it’s just the first time in the history of our party that Black voters get to go first, Southern voters get to go first, rural voters get to go first,” she said.

Three candidates will be on the ballot for South Carolina’s Feb. 3 Democratic primary: President Joe Biden, Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips, and Marianne Williamson.

South Carolina Republicans, meanwhile, will hold their presidential primary Feb. 24, retaining the state’s traditional First-in-the-South slot on the GOP calendar.

Notice a spelling or grammar error in this article? Click or tap here to report it. Please include the article's headline.

Stay up to date with WIS News 10. Get the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and Stream us on Roku, YouTube, Amazon Fire, or Apple TV.