With roughly 50 days before the New Hampshire primary, the presidential campaign of US Senator Bernie Sanders has been denied access to the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s valuable voter database — something for which the campaign had previously paid $100,000 for access.
The party’s move follows a similar denial from the Democratic National Committee, which concluded earlier this week that a Sanders staffer violated its voter database access rules. Sanders’ campaign has said the data breach was a result of a system error and says it will pursue legal action against the national party.
New Hampshire Party Chairman Ray Buckley said this automatically meant that Sanders would lose access to the more detailed file in the Granite State.
The files — both from the DNC and the New Hampshire Democratic Party — includes the months of work of voter contacting by the Sanders campaign. Campaigns rent access to file and add their own data to it during campaigns, but they also sign a contract agreeing not to access rival candidates’ input.
On Friday afternoon Sanders national campaign manager Jeff Weaver announced they would file a lawsuit in federal court against the DNC seeking an injunction.
“By their action, the leadership of the Democratic National Committee is now actively attempting to undermine our campaign. This is unacceptable. Individual leaders of the DNC can support Hillary Clinton in any way they want, but they are not going to sabotage our campaign - one of the strongest grass-roots campaigns in modern history,” Weaver said in a statement.
DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on CNN soon after that, “Unfortunately, the Sanders campaign doesn’t have anything other than bluster at the moment that they can put out there.”
Access to the New Hampshire voter file is key for candidates because it has voter histories and notes of previous presidential primaries, including those who backed Clinton or Barack Obama in the 2008 campaigns. Such state-specific information can help campaigns work more efficiently, and it’s not accessible through the Democratic National Committee database.
The dust-up between Sanders and the Democratic National Committee come days before a DNC-sanctioned presidential debate in New Hampshire. The debate is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday evening in Manchester.James Pindell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @jamespindell, or subscribe to his daily e-mail update on the 2016 campaign at bostonglobe.com/groundgame.