Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Biden Has a New Hampshire Problem--And a Guy from Vermont Could Solve It

At Joe Biden's request, the DNC decided to have the South Carolina primary go first, even though New Hampshire state law says its primary must go first. Since Republicans want New Hampshire to hold the first primary (and the second contest, after Iowa's caucuses) and the Republicans hold the trifecta in New Hampshire, there is zero chance of New Hampshire allowing any state to hold a primary before it does. The Republicans also hold the trifecta in South Carolina and they are probably not going to get into a food fight with New Hampshire, even though they might not mind going first, even if it was Biden's idea.

So what happens if New Hampshire holds an unsanctioned primary in January a week or so after Iowa? The DNC can punish New Hampshire by denying it delegates at the national convention, but New Hampshire is a swing state and doing that would really irritate New Hampshire voters. Worse yet, fringe candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. will probably file to run and so will Marianne Williamson, who appears to be interested in someday beating Harold Stassen's record for the largest number of pointless runs for president (though she'll have to live to 100 just to tie him). Biden obviously can't campaign there and won't file to be on the primary ballot, so Kennedy or Williamson could win the primary, which Biden doesn't want.

Enter Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who isn't even a Democrat. He has decided to campaign in New Hampshire for Biden, touting the President's economic successes and his measures to deal with climate change in the Inflation Reduction Act. Sanders is up for reelection in Vermont, and about 15,000 people who vote in Vermont work in New Hampshire, so campaigning on weekdays during working hours makes some sense for Sanders as well.

Although no party officials are talking about it out loud yet, it wouldn't be surprising if "some people" (preferably not Democratic officeholders) were to organize a write-in campaign for Biden. Sanders and other surrogates could then visit the state often to tout Biden's many fine accomplishments. Sanders has demonstrated that he is enough of a team player to be willing to do that. The other senator from Vermont, Peter Welch (D), is an actual Democrat and would certainly campaign in New Hampshire if asked to. People in southern New Hampshire certainly know the Massachusetts senators, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Edward Markey (D-MA), and people along New Hampshire's eastern border certainly know Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with the Democrats and is also up in 2024. Campaigning in eastern New Hampshire, close to the Maine border, also makes sense for him. So one possible way out for Biden would be not to file but to allow a write-in campaign led by Sanders and other friendly politicians. That could prevent the embarrassment of Kennedy or Williamson winning the unsanctioned primary. (V)

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