Gardner: New Hampshire Primary Date Still Up In Air

Beth Reinhard
Oct. 18, 2011, 6:25 a.m.

The Iowa Re­pub­lic­an Party’s de­cision late Monday to set its 2012 caucus for Jan. 3 means New Hamp­shire can put aside the po­ten­tial mad­ness of hold­ing the na­tion’s first pres­id­en­tial primary in Decem­ber, right?

Wrong, says New Hamp­shire Sec­ret­ary of State Wil­li­am Gard­ner, who said Tues­day morn­ing that “all op­tions are still on the table, in­clud­ing a primary be­fore the end of the year.”

Gard­ner said he’s not con­fid­ent that Nevada’s caucus date of Jan. 14 is firm. The state Re­pub­lic­an party is un­der pres­sure to move the vot­ing back; in fact, one can­did­ate, Jon Hunts­man, is boy­cot­ting to­night’s de­bate in Nevada out of solid­ar­ity with New Hamp­shire’s de­term­in­a­tion to have a sub­stan­tial head start.

“I don’t know what Nevada is go­ing to end up do­ing,” Gard­ner said, adding that if the state would res­ched­ule for three days later he would set his state’s primary for Jan. 10. He wouldn’t say what he will do if Nevada re­fuses to budge.

While cam­paigns and me­dia out­lets are anxious to make their plans, Gard­ner is no hurry and noted that he typ­ic­ally does not set the primary date un­til the end of the can­did­ate fil­ing peri­od. That’s on Oct. 28.

“I’m go­ing to set the date at a time that I be­lieve will hon­or the tra­di­tion of our primary,” he said. “We are faced with some choices that aren’t the best.”