Republicans are pressuring New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to put his state’s primary late enough to allow Iowa’s caucus to take place in January, and are threatening the state with the loss of its favored status as the first-in-the-nation primary if he doesn’t do so. Gardner, who is not affiliated with a political party, has the sole authority to set New Hampshire’s primary date. A spokesman in his office said he has no plans to make a decision before next week.
The Republican primary calendar was scrambled when Florida decided to move its primary up to Jan. 31, triggering a domino effect where the four early-voting states had to move their primaries and caucuses up. South Carolina scheduled its primary for Jan. 21, and Nevada announced Wednesday night that it would hold its caucus Jan. 14.
New Hampshire law requires it to hold its primary seven days before a “similar election”; it traditionally holds its primary on a Tuesday. Gardner has so far taken the view that Nevada, a caucus state, qualifies as a “similar election,” but Republicans are pushing him to reconsider that standpoint.
Gardner’s view would result in New Hampshire holding its primary Jan. 3. That would force Iowa into late December because of a Hawkeye State law requiring it to hold its caucuses at least eight days before any other state. Republican officials are trying to prevent that, and are threatening to “scrap” the system for the 2016 cycle if it happens.