Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman on Thursday threatened to boycott the Nevada primary caucus if officials there keep their date of Jan. 14, just 11 days after the first-in-the-nation voting in Iowa. The earlier-than-usual date by Nevada threatens to crowd the New Hampshire primary, traditionally the second major event after the Iowa caucuses. Huntsman has staked his campaign on winning in the Granite State.
Iowa has scheduled its Republican caucus for Jan. 3. According to state law in New Hampshire, its primary must fall seven days before another similar contest. Nevada’s Jan. 14 date would force it to hold its primary on Jan. 7, just days after the Iowa event and on a Saturday, potentially diminishing New Hampshire’s impact on helping to select the Republican nominee.
“In an effort to preserve New Hampshire’s historic first-in-the-nation primary status, the Huntsman campaign will boycott the Nevada caucus as long as the state continues to jeopardize New Hampshire’s primary date," Huntsman Campaign Manager Matt David said in a statement. "We call on the other campaigns to join us, especially Gov. (Mitt) Romney’s campaign, given their involvement in moving Nevada’s date forward.”
If New Hampshire’s primary is moved up, it would seem to benefit the former Massachusetts governor, who holds a commanding edge in the state in most polls.
New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner on Wednesday threatened to hold his state’s primary in early December unless Nevada changes its date. Gardner said the primary might be scheduled for Dec. 6 or Dec. 13 if Nevada doesn’t push its caucus back to at least Jan. 17.
“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,” Gardner said in a statement. “Our primary will have little meaning if states crowd into holding their events just hours after our polls have closed.”
This article appears in the October 13, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.