VIDEO: Gardner Sets Jan. 10 Date for NH Primary
Contentious back and forth battle with other states finally ends.
Secretary of State William Gardner announced this morning that the New Hampshire Primary will be held on Jan. 10, 2012. The announcement was made at a press conference at the Statehouse in Concord.
Gardner said that during a conversation with Edward O’Donnell, another presidential candidate who filed last week, the candidate noted that the primary was the only political contest where a relatively ordinary person could run for the highest office in the land in the entire world.
Gardner pointed to New Hampshire’s active role in the nominating process as a reason why the primary needed to be preserved, noting that during a survey in 2000, more than 25 percent of voters in the state said they had shaken the hand of a presidential candidate. He also noted the state's very high voter turnout for the primary. In 2008, he said, more than 529,000 voters cast ballots. Gardner thanked the presidential candidates, legislative leaders, activists, and members of the media, for working to preserve the tradition.
“Most of you in this room have, in your own way, whether you’re legislative leaders or just legislators or party leaders, from all walks of life, helped in appropriate ways protecting and preserving the primary,” he said. “That certainly helped again this year … a lot of individuals here have been a part of preserving our tradition.”
Gardner also thanked legislative leaders in Iowa and South Carolina who demonstrated the solidarity of the early states.
Former state Rep. Jim Splaine, D-Portsmouth, the author of the bill in 1975 that put a specific law in place to preserve the primary, said the primary was “not about New Hampshire … it’s about protecting an important element of American democracy.”
Splaine said he had been involved in every primary since 1960 when then-Sen. John F. Kennedy ran for in the primary. In all that time, he had learned and seen that the primary ensures that candidates get a good, hard look by voters, regardless of caste status, money, or organization.
“[We] make sure that there is a way and a place where candidates running for office in a real election, which the New Hampshire primary is, can meet voters one-to-one, face-to-face, eye-to-eye, in living rooms and on the streets,” he said. “It’s about being able to relate to people and we get to see them up close … they learn from us as well.”
After a political showdown, Nevada backed down from its effort to move its caucus up to Jan. 14, settling instead on Feb. 4. The Iowa caucuses are set for Jan. 3.
In all, 44 candidates have filed to run in the New Hampshire Primary, the highest number of candidates running since 1992.