New Hampshire lobbying Nevada to move back caucus date
October 19th, 2011
02:33 PM ET
11 years ago

New Hampshire lobbying Nevada to move back caucus date

Concord, New Hampshire (CNN) - As all eyes turned to Nevada for a Republican debate Tuesday night, back in New Hampshire GOP leaders were laboring to raise the pressure on the Western state's Republican leadership to delay its caucus date.

The lobbying effort, which is taking place both publicly and behind-the-scenes, is directed at persuading Nevada to push back its caucus date by three days, from Jan. 14 to Jan. 17. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is in Nevada conducting negotiations with party officials hoping for them to push back their primary date, according to a national GOP source.

The 72-hour window could conceivably allow New Hampshire to hold its first-in-the-nation primary Jan. 10 and circumvent the primary calendar turmoil causing friction in the Republican Party.

Late Tuesday Nevada GOP Chairman Amy Tarkanian indicated that her state's "perspective" may change with more information.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a well-respected and long-time office-holder who alone decides the date of New Hampshire's primary, has said if Nevada does not change its date he could be forced to set the New Hampshire primary as early as Dec. 6. Gardner's role in setting the date is nonpartisan.

CNN has learned negotiations continue to take place behind the scenes between high-ranking New Hampshire and Nevada GOP officials over the primary calendar.

Many GOP officials in the state are ramping up pressure more publicly. Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass released a joint statement Wednesday calling for all presidential candidates to "suspend campaign activities" in Nevada until the state moves its caucus date.

"Iowa and New Hampshire have long held the lead-off contests, and Nevada must now push back its caucuses to preserve that proven, time-honored tradition," the statement said.

A group of GOP activists and state legislative officials called a press conference Wednesday to affirm their support for maintaining the nation's first primary.

"The long-honored vetting process of the early states has served the best interests of the voters of our nation," said Jennifer Horn, a former congressional candidate and founder of We the People, which has hosted town hall forums featuring candidates including Rick Perry. "Without it, lesser-funded or lesser-known candidates would have no way to get themselves noticed."

The speakers, which included one confirmed and another likely Republican gubernatorial candidate, added pressure on the GOP presidential candidates to boycott the Nevada caucus.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has led the charge among the GOP field to boycott Nevada. He skipped the CNN Western Republican Debate there Tuesday, instead hosting a town hall forum in Hopkinton.

Huntsman's move has been much-lauded among local officials in New Hampshire, the state where his cash-strapped campaign is focusing its election efforts.

At the press conference of GOP activists, the chair of the conservative Republican Liberty Caucus, Andrew Hemingway, lashed out at former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for his refusal to boycott Nevada's caucus.

"Gov. Mitt Romney should be ashamed of himself," Hemingway said, calling Romney's campaign events in Nevada "political gamesmanship."

Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul have said they will campaign in all 50 states.

Romney, who has long-standing ties to the state and maintains a strong lead in polls here, has come under growing criticism for his refusal to boycott Nevada. He opened his campaign headquarters there Monday and, according to Nevada state party official Bob List, the Romney campaign pushed for the state party to move up Nevada's caucus.

The Romney campaign has not addressed the allegation but released a statement reaffirming the former governor's commitment to the nation's first primary. Romney also held a conference call with New Hampshire supporters Tuesday and told callers: "I've got to find my way back there soon."

-CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Nevada • New Hampshire
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    In case you may have missed it, this process is just as dysfunctional as the Congress. The only common denominator is the Republican Party. Throughout all of these primary date debacled, all you hear are the strong opinions being voiced by Republicans. None of this extreme dysfunctional existed in our politics before the Tea Party popped on the scene, did it?

    October 19, 2011 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. MTATL67

    What is the big deal. Who gives a darn when a states primaries is. Does it create jobs? Does it help someone get a small business loan? These party leaders need to get a flippin clue.

    October 19, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Hazer

    I am still puzzled as to why 49 other states let New Hampshire hold the first primary.

    Many times the candidate is chosen before certain states even vote – how fair is that. We should rotate the order of primaries in every presidential election cycle.

    October 19, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. Todd in DC

    The 2012 primary season starts in 2011? Who knew? At the rate the repubs are going, their primary season for 2016 will start in 2014. I guess part of the problem is no one likes the top republican candidates.

    October 19, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Tradition plays a part in this process. I wonder why people (states in this case) can't respect that. I would like to see the first primary stay in New Hampshire and caucus be in Iowa. After that, I would like to see the larger states wait until the smaller states get done. If they are unwilling to do that, then let's have a regional system with each region rotate going first.

    October 19, 2011 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  6. Kevin

    Why not just hold every single primary on the same exact day that way each state will be the same and nobody will be any better that anyone else. Problem solved, maybe I should run for the Presidency.

    October 19, 2011 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |