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New Hampshire sets first presidential primary for Jan. 10

November 02, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli | Washington Bureau
  • New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner in his office in Concord on Friday.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner in his office in Concord on… (Brian Snyder / Reuters )

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced Wednesday that his state's first-in-the-nation primary will be held on Jan. 10, finalizing the schedule of the first nominating contests in the 2012 presidential election.

New Hampshire's primary will follow one week after the leadoff Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. South Carolina Republicans will vote 11 days after New Hampshire on Jan. 21, followed by the Florida primary on Jan. 31.

It was Florida's decision to leapfrog the traditional early states and hold its primary in January that started a chain reaction that nearly forced voting into December.

Nevada Republicans initially planned to hold their nominating caucuses four days after New Hampshire's primary. But New Hampshire law stipulates that there must be seven days between its vote and any "similar election."

With the Nevada contest initially scheduled for Jan. 14, Gardner said he was prepared to set New Hampshire's primary as early as Dec. 6. National party leaders ultimately persuaded Nevada Republicans to cede to Gardner, and the state's GOP executive committee voted late last month to push the caucuses back to Feb. 4.

New Hampshire law gives Gardner the sole power in setting his state's primary, and he indicated he was prepared to wait out Nevada if need be.

Announcing his decision in his second-floor office Wednesday, Gardner pointedly thanked Republican party chairmen from Iowa and South Carolina, but not Nevada, for "demonstrating the solidarity of the early states."

He also defended his state's traditional role as a presidential handicapper.

"People in this state care deeply about who they choose, and that it be right for the country," he said.

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