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Write-in Biden? Some N.H. Democrats are not sold on the idea.

Some Democrats questioned whether the write-in campaign might waste political resources. Others worried overemphasizing the presidential race might distract from other important contests. And a few cozied up to Biden’s newest challenger.

Democratic presidential candidate, U.S. Representative Dean Phillips, Democrat of Minnesota, during a campaign stop, Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023, in Manchester, N.H.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The allies President Biden still has in New Hampshire are calling for voters to view his absence as water under the bridge.

They made some noise this week with the launch of a write-in campaign, since the incumbent won’t be on New Hampshire’s ballot in January. Biden is bypassing the traditional first-in-the-nation primary after he successfully urged party leaders to recognize South Carolina as the first official Democratic contest instead.

Despite the thunderclap of support in New Hampshire this week for Biden’s renomination, there were also murmurings of discontent. Some Democrats questioned whether the write-in campaign might waste political resources. Others worried overemphasizing the presidential race might distract from other important contests. And a few cozied up to Biden’s newest challenger.


On Monday, the same day as the write-in campaign’s launch, William H. Shaheen was spotted in Dover with Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota, who just launched his own Democratic presidential campaign. Phillips was making the retail politics rounds, and Shaheen was there to grease the wheels.

Shaheen, a well-connected attorney who is married to Senator Jeanne Shaheen and who is serving as a Democratic National Committee member, told the Globe he hasn’t made a final decision on who to support in the 2024 contest. He said he’s just making himself available to various candidates as he has done in past cycles.

“It’s the beginning of this race, and how it ends, who knows,” he said.

Does he worry people will think he’s undercutting Biden’s reelection bid? Not particularly. The discussions that accompany the primary season sharpen the candidates, he said.

“I think what I’m doing, giving New Hampshire people access to Dean Phillips, is a good thing for our country,” he added.

On Tuesday, Phillips got an endorsement from Stephen J. Shurtleff, a former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives who helped with Biden’s 2020 campaign in New Hampshire.


“It’s time for a new generation of leadership, and Dean is ready to take the helm right now,” Shurtleff said. “In New Hampshire, we know politics, and make our choices independent of party leadership. I call on my friends and colleagues to join me.”

Shurtleff said preserving New Hampshire’s electoral tradition is his prime reason for supporting Philips this time around.

“What the president and DNC has done — to say, ‘OK, thank you, New Hampshire; we’re going to push you aside and give the primary to South Carolina,’ because we don’t have a diverse enough population — to me, it’s just so inappropriate,” Shurtleff said Tuesday in an appearance with Phillips on the New Hampshire Today radio show.

Phillips isn’t the only Biden alternative in the Democratic race. Some voters have gravitated toward self-help author Marianne Williamson, and another 19 names will be printed on the ballot as well.

Less than three months ago, some Democrats worried Robert F. Kennedy Jr. might embarrass Biden in New Hampshire. Now Kennedy is running as an independent. With the New Hampshire primary less than three months away, who knows where the murmurings might lead.

Upcoming FITN events

Wednesday, Nov. 1

  • Vivek Ramaswamy debated Representative Ro Khanna, a Democrat from California, on the future of America. You can read about the event, which was moderated by Globe reporter James Pindell at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College, or watch the livestream.
  • Ron DeSantis will attend a medical freedom town hall hosted by the Never Back Down PAC in Manchester along with special guest Dr. Joseph Ladapo. The event begins at noon.
  • Dean Phillips will hold a town hall at The Rex Theatre in Manchester at 6 p.m. after a musical performance by G. Love.

Thursday, Nov. 2

  • Nikki Haley will hold a town hall at Poor Boy’s Diner in Londonderry at 12:30 p.m.
  • Chris Christie will join a moderated conversation at 5 p.m. in Loew Auditorium as part of Dartmouth’s “Path to the Presidency” series.
  • Nikki Haley will hold a town hall at the Polish American Citizen Club Hall in Nashua at 6:30 p.m.
  • Chris Christie will attend a town hall hosted by the Tell It Like It Is PAC at Jesse’s Steakhouse in Hanover at 6:30 p.m.

This story first appeared in Globe NH | Morning Report, our free newsletter focused on the news you need to know about New Hampshire, including great coverage from the Boston Globe and links to interesting articles from other places. If you’d like to receive it via e-mail Monday through Friday, you can sign up here.


Steven Porter can be reached at Follow him @reporterporter.