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New Hampshire attorney general hits national Democrats in fight over primary

By Alison Main and Arit John, CNN

(CNN) — New Hampshire’s Republican attorney general on Monday hit back against national Democrats after they rebuked the state party in an ongoing fight over the state’s upcoming January 23 primary.

New Hampshire Attorney General John M. Formella accused the Democratic National Committee of “unlawful voter suppression” in a January 8 cease-and-desist order after the national party told state Democrats that no delegates would be awarded based on their primary. The primary is noncompliant with the DNC’s revamped nominating calendar, which was announced nearly a year ago.

In a January 5 letter to New Hampshire Democrats, members of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws committee stressed that the New Hampshire primary will be “meaningless” and that the state party and presidential candidates “should take all steps possible not to participate.” The committee called on the state party to educate the public that the primary results are non-binding.

“Falsely telling New Hampshire voters that a New Hampshire election is ‘meaningless’ violates New Hampshire voter suppression laws,” Formella wrote in a letter to the co-chairs of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws committee.

The cease-and-desist order is the latest headache for supporters of President Joe Biden, who are working to support his campaign in a state where he won’t appear on the ballot, despite his decision to make South Carolina the first sanctioned Democratic primary. Under New Hampshire state law, the Granite State must hold its primary before any other state.

“Well, it’s safe to say in New Hampshire, the DNC is less popular than the NY Yankees,” New Hampshire Democratic Party chairman Raymond Buckley said in a statement. “State law requires the New Hampshire Secretary of State to conduct the first-in-the-nation primary and he is going to follow the law — period. Nothing has changed, and we look forward to seeing a great Democratic voter turnout on January 23rd.”

The Biden campaign informed the New Hampshire Democrats in October that he would not file to appear on the ballot and he has not campaigned in the state. That’s left his allies to launch a write-in campaign to prevent primary challengers, including Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and author Marianne Williamson, from having a strong showing.

At a Write-In Biden news conference Monday in Concord, backers of the president acknowledged the challenge ahead.

“It’s obviously harder for a candidate to run as a write in candidate than to have their name appear on the ballot,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat, said at the news conference.

Asked about the DNC calling New Hampshire’s unsanctioned primary “meaningless,” Raskin answered, “I’ve been to a bunch of meetings and conversations and town hall type discussions since I got here and all of them have been profoundly meaningful to me.”

New Hampshire Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy would not say how well Biden needs to do in New Hampshire, but predicted he would end the night with the most votes.

“I don’t know if we can prognosticate today, whether there’s gonna be another snowstorm or what’s gonna happen on that day, but a win is a win, and I think Joe Biden will get the majority of votes,” she said at the news conference.

Earlier in the day, Phillips and Williamson participated in a debate in Manchester, where both shared their view that Biden cannot win a general election and that the national party is suppressing voters in the 2024 Democratic primary.

At one point, Phillips help up a copy of the letter the Democratic National Committee sent the New Hampshire Democratic party.

“I hope it goes in the National Archives on display because I think it’s one of the most egregious affronts to democracy I’ve ever seen in my entire lifetime,” he said.

Williamson concurred with Phillips, saying that there is ongoing “candidate suppression” and that the DNC has decided “Joe Biden would be their candidate.”

Phillips later told reporters that the write in effort shows the party made “a terrible mistake.”

“The fact that the president is not here, the fact that the Democratic Party is telling everybody this is meaningless, but yet they’re doing the write in campaign and have a super PAC set up here. I think that is all you need to know,” he said.

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