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As GOP field shrinks, NH Democrats work to write Biden in

Trump and Haley only Republicans left in the race after DeSantis withdrawal

"I Voted" stickers are ready at Londonderry High School ahead of the 2016 primaries in Londonderry, N.H.
"I Voted" stickers are ready at Londonderry High School ahead of the 2016 primaries in Londonderry, N.H. (Meredith Dake-O'Connor/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, New Hampshire Rep. Ann McLane Kuster campaigned with several of the Democrats vying for the White House as they traveled across her home state in the months leading up to the party’s primary election.

This year, everything is different. Kuster, who is in her sixth term in the House, has spent weeks urging Democratic voters to write in President Joe Biden’s name on the ballot Tuesday, since the incumbent president isn’t officially running in the Granite State. It’s a grassroots effort in a state where politicians and activists pride themselves on grassroots campaigns. 

“I just tried to welcome all the candidates to New Hampshire. Grassroots campaigning is what we do,” Kuster said of her activities in 2020. “This year, yes, that aspect is different.”

The “write-in Biden” effort launched in October with Democratic officials and activists across the state urging voters not to ignore the primary election or support a long shot candidate. The effort’s low budget hasn’t covered television ads, but supporters plan to have volunteers standing outside polling places with signs encouraging support for Biden. They are hopeful that Biden will win on Tuesday, despite not being on the ballot. 

Democrats are also looking toward November, and want to make sure the state’s four electoral votes aren’t endangered by the party’s decision to make South Carolina’s primary on Feb. 3 the first official nominating contest.  

“It’s still a very purple state, but we’ve worked incredibly hard, the four of us, and our supporters, our volunteers who are turning out now again for the president,” Kuster said, referring to herself and the three other members of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation.

Biden’s decision not to be on the ballot in New Hampshire after the state bucked the Democratic National Committee’s new primary schedule is just one quirk in the state’s primary this year. Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips and 2020 candidate Marianne Williamson are the best known of the 21 candidates on the Democratic ballot. 

On the Republican side, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Sunday decision to suspend his campaign and endorse former President Donald Trump left him and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley as the last two major candidates actively in the race, though the ballot includes 25 names, including those of candidates who dropped out long ago, such as former Vice President Mike Pence. Haley is hoping for a strong showing after a third-place finish in Iowa — undeclared voters can choose whether to vote in the Democratic or Republican primaries — but polls show Trump has the advantage. 

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who suspended his own White House campaign last year, traveled to Concord on Friday to endorse Trump. 

“We need a president who doesn’t see Black or white. We see a president who sees Americans as one American family,” he said. “And that’s why I came to the very warm state of New Hampshire to endorse the next president of these United States, President Donald Trump.”

Other Republican members who traveled or were traveling to the Granite State to campaign for Trump included House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz and Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Trump also brought South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and other South Carolina officials to a New Hampshire rally, signaling his projected strength in the Feb. 24 Republican primary in Haley’s home state. 

More Trump endorsements

New York Rep. Nick LaLota, a freshman who represents a Long Island district rated Lean Republican by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales, also endorsed Trump over the weekend. He became the first Republican in a district that Biden would have won in 2020 to endorse the former president. 

“Under President Biden’s failed leadership, our border is wide open, Putin, Xi, and Iran have been emboldened, and families are struggling to put food on the table,” LaLota said in a statement. “President Trump’s policies made our nation stronger and had us on track to prosperity. That is why I endorse President Trump to be our 47th President and look forward to him cleaning up the mess President Biden created.” 

Trump also picked up endorsements from Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who won the GOP nomination in 2022 by defeating a Trump-backed challenger, and Virginia Rep. Bob Good, who had endorsed DeSantis but on Sunday said he’s backing Trump. Good faces a challenger this year who had already campaigned for Trump last week in Iowa. 

Trump’s support from congressional Republicans stands out compared to that of Haley, whose lone Hill endorsement is from South Carolina Rep. Ralph Norman. Haley said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that she wasn’t surprised many Republicans on Capitol Hill have backed Trump.

“I have never really taken care of elected officials. I call out elected officials because I think they need to be accountable to the people,” she said. “I call out Republicans and Democrats when they don’t do the right thing. So it’s not surprising that that set is going towards Trump because he’s going to take care of them. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to take care of the taxpayers.”

Campaigning on Jan. 6 attack

Even though Biden’s campaign doesn’t have an official presence in New Hampshire, Democratic members of the House were still visiting the state this month. Kuster said that campaigning with Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin earlier this month around the anniversary of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol “tied together that weekend around why it was so important to support Joe Biden in the New Hampshire primary and defeat Donald Trump in 2024.”

Raskin said the write-in campaign was a “very grassroots effort,” but that he thought organizers in the state were “fired up.”

“There’s a pervasive sense of civic responsibility in New Hampshire which I think seems to be built into the political culture,” he said. 

California Rep. Ro Khanna, who endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2020 Democratic primary, was also in New Hampshire supporting the write-in campaign.

“The fundamental choice here is someone who has dedicated his entire life to public service and to belief in democracy. I mean, President Biden didn’t start out by making a ton of money and he didn’t start out by becoming famous or a talk show host or a media celebrity. He started out by running for the city council in Delaware,” Khanna said at a house party on Saturday in Portsmouth.

Khanna said that Biden is running to stand up for democracy and is an alternative to being “cynical and just blowing the whole system up.”

“What you’re doing in writing him in, that’s the ultimate form of grassroots democracy,” he said.

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