The Republican Party chairs in the first four states that hold contests in the GOP presidential nominating calendar — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — are teaming up to protect their cherished status.
“We’re going to be working collaboratively together to protect the current status quo as far as 2024 is concerned,” New Hampshire Republican Party Chair Steve Stepanek told Fox News on Friday.
The move comes with the 2020 presidential election fading into the rearview mirror and the very early steps in the 2024 White House race already underway.
New Hampshire has held the first presidential primary in the race for the White House for a century. A sign highlighting the state’s cherished primary status stands outside the state capitol in Concord, N.H.
Pointing to the well-known “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, Stepanek said “we’re going to do the same thing. As candidates come to any of the four early states, that they pledge to support all four states and [there will] be a pledge-signing ceremony and all four state party chairs will countersign the pledge.”
Stepanek said the idea was agreed upon when all four early voting state chairs huddled in January at the Republican National Committee’s (RNC’s) winter meeting in Amelia Island, Fla.
“We had a roundtable — all four states — and agreed to work together. We hope to have the pledge approved by all four states over the next few weeks,” Stepanek said.
So far, the early 2024 nominating calendar drama is coming from the Democrats, with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a longtime senator from Nevada, suggesting his state move to the lead-off position.
But even without any imminent threats, the GOP chairs from the first four states aren’t taking anything for granted.
“We want to show that there’s unity among all four states and we want get all the candidates on record that they support the current primary calendar,” Stepanek said.
RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel told Fox News two weeks ago that she doesn’t “foresee changes” in the current Republican nominating calendar.
But McDaniel also said “that’s a little too far down the road ” and that she’s “not going to get ahead of the committee” in making any news.
While no potential 2024 contenders have parachuted into the early voting states yet, behind-the-scenes calls are being made.
“Right after the election, I had entrees that were very casual but very specific and it became clear to me that there are many people who are already eyeing New Hampshire,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics Executive Director Neil Levesque told Fox News.
For a generation, the institute’s famed “Politics and Eggs” speaking series has been a must-stop for White House hopefuls.
While there haven’t been any in-person visits amid the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks ago, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas — a potential 2024 Republican presidential contender — spoke remotely at a New Hampshire GOP meeting that was held on Zoom.
Cotton told the audience of state party and elected officials and activists that he fully supports New Hampshire’s century-old tradition of holding the first presidential primary and teased that he planned to return to the Granite State “very, very soon.”
“New Hampshire has done a wonderful job over the years of helping identify and select our presidents, including our most recent Republican president,” Cotton said, referring to now former President Donald Trump.