Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) - At long last, New Hampshire's secretary of state has set the first-in-the-nation primary for Jan. 10, restoring order to the primary calendar and preserving the state's early voting status for another presidential cycle.
Bill Gardner praised New Hampshire's traditional first primary in front of a room packed with cameras and reporters in his long-time state house office.
"The New Hampshire primary has really been for those - regardless of their status, whether they have fame or fortune - that they have a chance here," Gardner said. "People in this state care deeply about who they choose and that it be right, that it be right for the country. They put a lot of time and effort into this."
New Hampshire voters will head to the polls in 68 days - a week after the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3.
The new Jan. 10 primary date is more than a month earlier than New Hampshire's original date in mid-February. The primary calendar was thrown into flux when Florida moved their contest to Jan. 31 forcing four other states, sanctioned by the party to vote early, to change their dates.
South Carolina moved their date to Jan. 21. Nevada then said they would hold their contest on Jan. 14, causing Gardner to re-think his date as well. Iowa scheduled its caucus for Jan. 3 which further boxed New Hampshire in, as by state law it holds the first primary in the nation and must be separated from any similar voting event by seven days.
In response to the moves by the other states, Gardner vowed to protect New Hampshire's early status and warned he could be forced to move the primary into early December.
After weeks of intense pressure on Nevada's GOP, the state party capitulated and moved back its caucus date to Feb. 4. That cleared the way for a January primary in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire voters pride themselves on thoroughly vetting presidential candidates at town hall meetings across the state. They have a history of delivering unlikely victories to candidates, propelling them to later success.
Several presidential candidates had pledged not to campaign in Nevada if it continued to threaten New Hampshire's status. The three candidates with the highest fund-raising numbers did not join that pledge.
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