New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner on Wednesday threatened to hold his state’s primary in early December unless Nevada changes the date of its caucus, a demand that could send shockwaves through the Republican Party’s presidential primary schedule.
Nevada Republicans are set to hold their state’s caucus Jan. 14, just 11 days after the candidates will descend on Iowa for the nation’s first caucus, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 3. But the Granite State, according to state law, must set its primary seven days before another similar contest. That would mean holding a primary on Jan. 7, just days after Iowa caucuses and on a Saturday.
In a statement, Gardner called that unacceptable, and threatened to hold the state’s primary on Dec. 6 or 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,” he said. “Our primary will have little meaning if states crowd into holding their events just hours after our polls have closed.”
The secretary of state called both dates “realistic options,” adding that “we have the logistics in place to make either date happen if needed.”
“Candidates have been campaigning here, and elsewhere, for months, and it is about time we begin the next stage of the presidential nominating process,” said Gardner.
His remarks are the latest in what has become a volatile process of deciding the GOP presidential election’s primary election order, which has been marked by states trying to leap frog one another up the order.
If New Hampshire’s primary is moved up, it would seem to benefit Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor holds a commanding edge in the state.