MANCHESTER, N.H. – Aiming to prevent President Biden from suffering an electoral embarrassment in New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, Biden’s backers in the Granite State on Monday launched a ballot write-in effort on his behalf.
The newly launched grassroots organizing push by some of the biggest names in New Hampshire Democratic circles comes one week after Biden declined to place his name on the state’s primary ballot.
With New Hampshire certain to hold a primary that’s out of compliance with the Democratic National Committee’s revamped 2024 nominating calendar – a schedule first suggested by the president late last year that removes the state from its century-old leadoff position – Biden’s avoiding the unsanctioned contest.
“The fate of our democracy itself hangs in the balance in the 2024 election,” the group’s website warns.
And an email from the group’s leaders highlighted that “more than 100 grassroots leaders and volunteers from across New Hampshire are launching ‘Write-In Biden,’ a statewide effort to encourage New Hampshire voters to commit to writing in Joe Biden during the 2024 NH Presidential Primary this winter.”
The leaders of the effort are emphasizing that neither the president’s 2024 re-election campaign nor the New Hampshire Democratic Party are involved in the campaign
“None. Absolutely none,” one of the group’s leaders – veteran Democratic strategist Jim Demers – told Fox News when asked if there was any communication with the Biden campaign. “We have not heard anything from them…. It truly is a citizens grassroots effort.”
The launch of the effort comes three days after three-term Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, one of the wealthiest members of Congress, filed at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire, to place his name on the state’s ballot as he launched a primary challenge against the president.
But Demers said the move by Phillips had nothing to do with the timing of their launch.
Pointing to the mass shooting last week in neighboring Maine, Demers said, “We actually postponed announcing on Friday because everyone was extremely uncomfortable considering the news from our next-door state – Maine – so we held off until today.
“Dean Phillips’ entry into the race has no bearing on this. The write-in effort started organizing weeks ago, before he entered the race,” he emphasized.
Along with Demers, Kathy Sullivan, a former state Democratic Party chair who later served as one of New Hampshire’s two members on the Democratic National Committee, is spearheading the push.
Backing the effort are all 10 of the party’s state senators, dozens of state representatives, both of its 2024 gubernatorial candidates, and scores of prominent current and former party leaders and elected officials.
But the list didn’t include the four members of New Hampshire’s all Democratic congressional delegation Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, who are both former governors, and Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas. Kuster later spotlighted on social media that she supports the write-in effort.
Demers emphasized that the effort is to “educate New Hampshire voters on their ability and right to write in President Biden, and how to do it is going to be the goal of this grassroots effort.
“People are signing up online. They’re making their commitment to support the president. There’s a fundraising link. Money is coming,” he noted.
Demers said he anticipates hiring staff in the coming weeks. But he added that the group’s filing with the Federal Elections Commission “allows for only grassroots work. It does not permit digital or direct mail to go out from this committee.”
The genesis of the write-in campaign dates back nearly a year, when Biden proposed a nominating calendar for the 2024 election cycle that booted New Hampshire from its top spot and replaced it with South Carolina, a much more diverse state that Biden won in a landslide four years ago, boosting him toward the Democratic nomination and eventually the White House. Biden came in a dismal fifth in the 2020 New Hampshire primary.
But New Hampshire’s on course to leapfrog South Carolina by moving up the date of its 2024 primary, in accordance with a state law that mandates the Granite State’s presidential primary be held seven days ahead of a similar contest.
The move will put the state out of compliance with the DNC, which resulted in Biden’s move last week to not file to place his name on the ballot.
While the 80-year-old president is the commanding frontrunner for re-nomination, polls indicate Biden faces mounting concerns from Democrats over his age. Those surveys also suggest that many Americans, including plenty of Democrats, don’t want the president to seek a second term in the White House.
And there are concerns among Granite Staters that the move by the president and the DNC to revamp the nominating calendar, and Biden’s absence from the primary ballot, could serve as another distraction for Biden in 2024.
The president is already facing a long-shot primary challenge from bestselling author and spiritual adviser Marianne Williamson, who is making her second straight White House run.
Biden was also facing an uphill primary challenge from environmental lawyer and high-profile vaccine critic Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who is a scion of arguably the nation’s most famous family political dynasty. But Kennedy announced at a campaign event in Philadelphia earlier this month that he would seek the White House as an independent candidate.
Now comes Phillips, who’s being helped by longtime Democratic consultant and national party committee member Billy Shaheen, who is Sen. Shaheen’s husband.
“He has very deep personal pockets and we expect that he’ll spend a lot of money – it makes our effort extremely challenging,” Demers said of Phillips.
Demers said he’d “be thrilled if President Biden won the New Hampshire primary through a write-in effort, but I would be happy if thousands of people signed up regardless of where he finishes, so we lay the foundation for a winning election next November.”