New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner threatened to move the state’s first in the nation primary to December if Nevada does not move its caucus.
In an impassioned letter posted on his office’s website, Gardner defended the Granite’s State’s historical position in the nominating calendar, and said he would do everything in his power to preserve the state’s influence in the race for the GOP nomination.
Gardner has complete autonomy in scheduling the primary.Excepts from the letter are below:
OPTIONS FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE’S PRIMARY DATE. With Florida moving its primary earlier than originally planned to January 31st, and South Carolina making a move to set its primary 10 days earlier to January 21st, that began to limit options for setting our date in January. When officials in Nevada set their caucus for Saturday, January 14th, that left Tuesday, January 3rd as a possibility for us, but Iowa officials tentatively decided that their caucus would be on that day.
My job as NH Secretary of State is to follow our law, which mandates that I set our election 7 days or more before any event that would threaten our traditional leadoff status. So if Nevada does not adjust its caucus date to a later time, I cannot rule out the possibility of a December primary.
We cannot allow the political process to squeeze us into a date that wedges us by just a few days between two major caucus states. Our primary will have little meaning if states crowd into holding their events just hours after our polls have closed.
The date of our primary is decided by state law, not by the rules or desires of political parties. Since Nevada’s caucus is similar in the eyes of our statute, it means the New Hampshire primary can be set no later than Saturday, January 7th.
IT’S REALLY UP TO NEVADA. If Nevada does not accept a date of Tuesday, January 17th or later for its caucus, it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year. The dates of Tuesday, December 13th, and Tuesday, December 6th are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed. Candidates have been campaigning here, and elsewhere, for months, and it is about time we begin the next stage of the presidential nominating process.
The political parties did not give New Hampshire its presidential primary. Traditionally, it has been the first in the nation for almost a hundred years, and our state law protects our tradition. We have the largest turnout in the country, and our citizens take their roles and obligations seriously.
But the parties do have an important role in that they can discourage other states from trying to leapfrog onto our tradition. Right now, the problem is the date of Nevada. We will respond as we need to in order to honour New Hampshire’s tradition, and to keep our primary relevant. Not to do so would allow us to lose an important element of American democracy forever. New Hampshire will not let that happen.
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