New Hampshire primary could be early December
October 12th, 2011
07:15 PM ET
3 years ago

New Hampshire primary could be early December

Keene, New Hampshire (CNN) - In a move that would throw the nomination calendar into further turmoil, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is now threatening to move the state's primary into early or mid-December unless Nevada backs down on its decision to hold its caucus on a mid-January date.

Gardner said in a letter posted on the secretary of state's website Wednesday that Dec. 13 and Dec. 6 are "realistic options" for the first-in-the-nation primary.

The possibility of a December primary is unwelcome among many GOP officials, who worry the primary contest could be overshadowed by the holiday season, as well as many candidates, who want more time to build up support among voters.

Gardner had already said he would move up the state's primary after both Florida and Nevada pushed up the dates of their nominating contests. The Nevada Republican party now plans to hold its caucus Jan. 14.

In the letter posted to his website, Gardner vented his frustration at Nevada officials for forcing him to push up New Hampshire's own primary date.

"It's really up to Nevada," Gardner wrote. "If Nevada does not adjust its caucus date to a later time, I cannot rule out the possibility of a December primary."

New Hampshire election law states its primary must be held at least seven days ahead of any other similar contest.
Gardner made clear in the letter New Hampshire will not hold its primary any date after Jan. 7 to maintain the seven-day window before the Nevada caucus.

Iowa's GOP has tentatively set a date of Jan 3 for its first-in-the-nation caucus, a move Gardner said limited his options further.

The letter also justifies New Hampshire's historic status as the nation's first primary contest. Gardner said several politicians would likely not have become president had they not won over the voters in New Hampshire.

"In a state like New Hampshire, candidates can run without a large staff or heavy advertising and consulting budgets if they have a message, meet directly with voters, and explain why they should be president," he said.

Political insiders have said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney would be likely to benefit from an earlier primary date because of his widespread name recognition in the state.

Conversely, analysts say an earlier primary could be more difficult for a lesser-known and lesser-funded candidate to win.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is betting on a win in New Hampshire to revive his presidential bid, was asked at a press availability in Keene about the effect on his campaign of a possible December voting date.

"If we keep moving forward in ways that show progress, whether it's in December or January or February, we'll get a wave effect going up," he said, adding his support for New Hampshire's traditional first-in-the-nation primary status. "We ought to everything we need to do to maintain that tradition."

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Filed under: 2012 • New Hampshire • Primary Calendar
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Jay

    It is high time that federal law mandates that all party primaries in all states be on the same date as a general election. If the candidates can't cut it nationally at the same time, then they have no business running. Governer Gardner's justification is exactly what is WRONG with our system: that his state has the RIGHT to be the driving force behind who gets the leg up on being president?. New Hampshire doesn't have any more rights than any other state. I can only ope that maybe these numbskulls will finally force an end to the issue!

    October 13, 2011 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  2. Don

    By the time these clowns are done the NH primary will be scheduled for yesterday. Cain / Bachmann 2012

    October 13, 2011 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  3. rick1948

    This is sooo funny. These idiot states trying to see who can be first. WHO CARES. The election isn't for 13 months yet.

    October 13, 2011 07:08 am at 7:08 am |
  4. Joe

    Ridiculous. Utterly ridiculous. This country is so concerned with the next four years that it pays no attention whatsoever to the next forty years. THAT'S why America is on the outs...short sightedness geared toward immediate self gratification with no eye anything past the tip of its' nose.

    October 13, 2011 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  5. Brian Hill

    This is puerile. Surely the Republicans have more important issues to worry about than this childish bickering. It reminds me of a kindergarten classroom.

    October 13, 2011 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
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