Friday, September 16, 2011

NH's Gardner Indicates Granite State Presidential Primary Will Stay a Week Ahead of Other States

FHQ loves it when New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner comes along and says in a sentence or two what FHQ has spent months trying to tell our readers and other passersby. Here is what Gardner had to say to John DiStaso of the Manchester Union-Leader:
“In the end, if it's Nevada going on the 18th, then we're not going on the 14th, but I don't think it's going to be Nevada in the end” that prompts an earlier date for New Hampshire.
It is funny that Gardner should say this on the very day that I questioned on The Daily Rundown how strictly he would observe the New Hampshire election law that requires not only at least a seven day window before the primary (Iowa usually holds its caucuses eight days in advance of the New Hampshire primary.) but a similar buffer after the contest as well. FHQ has said for a while now that the tentative dates that are out there for the first four states are just that, tentative. In fact, they are a DNC creation that not all of the first four states are recognizing. The RNC only requires that Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina go no earlier than February. The Iowa and Nevada Republican Parties have gone along with that plan, penciling in their caucuses for the DNC-mandated dates (February 6 and 18 respectively), but nothing formal or otherwise has come out of either New Hampshire or South Carolina.

Gardner knows better.

And he basically put a death knell in the Nevada-just-four-days-after-New-Hampshire plan with just one statement. That, in turn, means that New Hampshire will likely go a full week and a half before either Nevada or Nevada/South Carolina if both choose to hold Saturday contests.

Now, folks may be wondering, "Well, what about 2008?" The 2008 calendar put both Iowa and New Hampshire behind the eight ball. Iowa's caucuses were pushed right up against New Year's Day on January 3, and New Hampshire positioned itself just five days later, but a full seven days ahead of the non-compliant January 15 primary in Michigan. In 2008, New Hampshire for months was tentatively penciled in for January 22, but Gardner laid waste to that notion by holding out until all the other states settled their dates before scheduling New Hampshire's (as close to compliant with the state law as he could get without pushing Iowa into December and out of compliance with the national party rules).

January 22, 2008 was never the date of the New Hampshire primary where it counted: with Bill Gardner. And February 14, 2012 was never likely to be the date of the Granite state primary either unless, of course, no states defied the rules.

That hasn't happened and neither will February 14.

...for New Hampshire anyway.

What does this mean for the final calendar? Well, it means what it always means: that New Hampshire is very likely to be the last player to make a move in this date setting process. Beyond that, however, it means that New Hampshire won't settle for just a four day buffer between it and the third state to hold a primary or caucus. Gardner appears to think that that third state could be Missouri or Wisconsin. FHQ has gotten assurances from folks on the ground in Nevada, though, that Republicans in the Silver state will move up to stay within the first four states grouping. This is now the second time that Gardner has brought up Wisconsin as a rogue state. He may know something that FHQ does not, but by all indications, the Badger state move to April in moving along as planned. Governor Walker has some say in the matter -- he could veto the measure -- but I have seen nothing, pro or con, to signal what Walker is likely to do. Missouri is a threat, but as I said yesterday, I'm less pessimistic about the move to March in the Show Me state than I was on the evening the news broke about the hold up of the legislation in the state Senate.

But what does it mean for the calendar?
January 23: Iowa
January 31: New Hampshire
February 7: Minnesota, (Missouri*)
February 11: Nevada
February 18: South Carolina
February 21: Florida, Georgia (Wisconsin*)
February 28: Arizona, Michigan
*Assuming neither Missouri nor Wisconsin move their primaries.

Now, this is completely speculative, but it does take into account the information that we have at the moment; information that can and will very likely change in a heartbeat.

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astrojob said...

Regarding your hypothetical calendar.......the South Carolina GOP political establishment has always insisted that they'll go "first in the South" no matter what. Does Missouri count as "the South" for these purposes? Would SC really schedule their primary for a date later than Missouri, if Missouri stays put at Feb. 7?

astrojob said...

Btw, this article indicates that Maine will hold caucuses between Feb. 4 and Feb. 11:

Josh Putnam said...


I actually spoke with the Maine GOP earlier in the week and knew about the caucus dates. But I was waiting for them to confirm the date of their state convention before I posted it. Boo!

As to your Missouri question, I don't know how South Carolina Republicans would interpret that. I doubt very seriously that they would allow Missouri to go ahead of them though.

I see it all sequentially. Missouri cannot drag out its special session too much longer (and I think the veto override option is much more likely at this point pushing the primary to March 6), but may be able to wait Florida out. If it looks like Missouri is stuck, Florida will opt for January 31 and that would in turn push South Carolina up. I don't see Missouri directly affecting South Carolina, but I do think Republicans in the Palmetto state will go ahead of them.

Anonymous said...

I would be shocked if South Carolina went behind Minnesota even if no delegates are awarded.
Also Florida said they wanted to be 5th and again that suggests before Minnesota.

That would seem to put Florida on Jan 31 and SC on Jan 28. Nevada would be Jan 21.