December New Hampshire Primary Still A Possibility
by Todd Beeton, Fri Nov 09, 2007 at 06:34:05 AM EST
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner had said he would announce New Hampshire's primary date as early as November 2 but it looks like the decision has been pushed even later as a result of a court ruling on Wednesday that declared the law setting Michigan's primary date for January 15 unconstitutional.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette ruled that part of the law passed by the state Legislature setting up the primary election is unconstitutional because it prevents public access to some information related to voting records in the primary.
By all accounts, this is merely a bump in the road and is easily remedied, either through court appeal or through legislative action amending the law to remove the unconstitutional provision. But what it has done is delay the decision by Michigan Democrats on whether or not to abide by the Jan. 15 primary date or opt out of it altogether, a decision that was scheduled for this past Wednesday and one that must be made no later than Nov. 14.
From The Union Leader:
The ruling forced the Michigan Democratic Party executive committee on Wednesday night to pull from its meeting agenda an expected decision on whether the party would participate in the Jan. 15 primary or opt out under a provision of the law and instead hold a caucus.
The key reason this impacts Gardner's decision as to when to hold the New Hampshire primary:
That caucus could be earlier than Jan. 15, or perhaps on the same day as the New Hampshire primary.
As of now, conventional wisdom is that NH will hold its primary on Tuesday January 8, a date that, assuming Michigan remains on Jan. 15, would conform to state law requiring that New Hampshire hold its primary at least 7 days before any other state contest. If Michigan moves its up earlier, however, Gardner still reserves the right to push the primary to mid-December to maintain the state's "first in the nation" status. In fact, Michigan could even wait until Nov. 14 to decide and Gardner would still have time to call a mid-December election; he's made sure of it.
Gardner said state law requires overseas absentee ballots to be sent from his office and arrive at city and town clerks' offices at least 30 days before the date of the election. He said those have been sent out this week and have arrived.
This is truly getting ridiculous. Gardner has been secretary of state for 30 years and apparently sees it as his duty to protect New Hampshire's sovereignty as the presidential decider. As WaPo says, he is "invested with what amounts to dictatorial power to set the date under state law" and he takes it seriously. Of course, his threats to move the primary to December could be a bluff; after all, New Hampshire's influence would likely be diluted greatly with a pre-Christmas contest, if the candidates decide to honor it at all. Of course, that's precisely the goal of Michigan's game of chicken with New Hampshire, to destroy New Hampshire's electoral primacy once and for all. Who will blink first? We should know by Wednesday.