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Still Annoyed at Biden, New Hampshire Democrats Gear Up to Help Him

New Hampshire Democrats were furious at President Biden when he shook up the party’s nominating calendar last year, diminishing their state’s political importance by pushing its primary election behind South Carolina’s.

Kicking and screaming, they defied the Democratic National Committee and refused to move back their primary. This year, they warned that the upheaval could come back to haunt Mr. Biden and cause him an embarrassing loss in the state’s primary.

In turn, the national party stripped the state of its delegates. Mr. Biden declined to campaign in New Hampshire or even place his name on the ballot.

Now a range of the state’s influential Democrats, including Senator Jeanne Shaheen, are coming around to the idea that they need to swallow their pride and help Mr. Biden win their primary despite his snub of their state.

“It’s up to us in New Hampshire to fix a problem that his advisers and the D.N.C. made for the president,” said Kathleen Sullivan, a former New Hampshire Democratic Party chairwoman who is leading a write-in Biden super PAC.

Ms. Sullivan’s super PAC is one of two groups of Democrats in the state organizing campaigns to promote Mr. Biden as a write-in candidate in the Jan. 23 primary election.

For the Biden-backing Granite Staters, the write-in efforts amount to a bit of a tail-between-their-legs moment after months of howling objections about the president’s decision. Like Ms. Sullivan, they find themselves blaming the D.N.C. or Mr. Biden’s aides rather than a president whom they still support.

Their goal is a substantial Biden victory over the two Democrats running protest campaigns against the president, Representative Dean Phillips of Minnesota and the self-help author Marianne Williamson. Both of them, unlike Mr. Biden, will appear on Democratic ballots in the state.

“People here, quite frankly, don’t care about the D.N.C. or their rules,” said Terie Norelli, a former speaker of the New Hampshire State House and a leader of Granite State Write-In, a grass-roots group supporting Mr. Biden. “The vast majority of Democrats and independents in New Hampshire do support President Biden.”

The group hopes to use its modest budget — $50,000 to $70,000 — to inform New Hampshire Democrats and independents, who are allowed to cast ballots in the state’s primary elections, about how to vote for the president in a contest in which he is not participating.

Beyond obvious details, like making sure voters know that his name is spelled B-i-d-e-n and that they have to check a write-in box on the ballot, the group is recruiting a team of volunteers. They will partake in the small-town New Hampshire experience of standing outside voting sites and holding signs urging voters to write in Mr. Biden’s name.

The group also plans to have its members write letters and place opinion essays in New Hampshire newspapers and appear at town Democratic club meetings before the primary.

Ms. Norelli said she was not worried that Mr. Biden would lose to Mr. Phillips or Ms. Williamson. The aim, she said, is to give his campaign — with which her group is not coordinating — momentum to defeat former President Donald J. Trump in the general election, assuming he is the Republican nominee.

“It’s not like it’s a big, contested race,” she said.

This month, the group distributed stickers at a New Hampshire Democratic Party fund-raising dinner where, in a public-relations triumph for the effort, Ms. Shaheen, the state’s senior senator, expressed her support.

“Let’s kick off 2024 by writing in Biden and making our first-in-the-nation primary the very first victory for the Biden-Harris re-election team,” Ms. Shaheen said at the dinner.

Representative Ro Khanna of California, who is widely seen as having presidential ambitions of his own and has publicly lamented Democrats’ decision to place New Hampshire after South Carolina on the nominating calendar, dialed into one of the group’s video conferences, which Ms. Norelli said were held every two weeks and usually attracted about 85 people.

A Biden campaign spokesman declined to comment.

Florida’s Democratic Party has already canceled its presidential primary. Democratic officials in other states have moved to list only Mr. Biden on their ballot, which has led to complaints from Mr. Phillips and Ms. Williamson.

Ms. Sullivan said that by all but ignoring the New Hampshire primary, Mr. Biden ran the danger of allowing the challenges from Mr. Phillips and Ms. Williamson to become competitive. She pointed to 1976, 1980 and 1992, when incumbent presidents lost re-election, and to 1968, when President Lyndon B. Johnson was driven out of the race. In all of those years, the presidents faced tough primary opponents in New Hampshire.

“I don’t think it would be good for him if he does poorly in New Hampshire,” Ms. Sullivan said of Mr. Biden.

Ray Buckley, the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party since 2007, said Mr. Biden retained support from a vast majority of the state’s Democrats, but cautioned that a significant percentage would be likely to vote against him.

“About one-third of New Hampshire Democratic primary voters are cranky people who always want to be contrary,” said Mr. Buckley, who added that he had not communicated with the write-in groups. “Anyone who is not the main person starts off with a third of the vote.”

Mr. Buckley himself plans to stay neutral — sort of.

“Ever since I became state party chair, I have consistently written in Jimmy Carter,” Mr. Buckley said. “Maybe this time I’ll write in Rosalynn to honor her. That’s really the choice for me.”

Lou D’Allesandro, a New Hampshire state senator who has known Mr. Biden for decades, said he would reluctantly write the president’s name on the ballot despite lingering anger about how the Granite State had been treated.

“People felt slighted,” he said. “But what he’s done for the country overrides that decision.”

Mr. D’Allesandro said he saw Mr. Biden last week at a Boston fund-raiser where the musician James Taylor played a concert. Mr. D’Allesandro said that he had embraced Mr. Biden, and that the president had invited him to the White House.

But Mr. D’Allesandro didn’t bring up his grievances about New Hampshire’s primary.

“It wasn’t the time or the place to do that,” he said.

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