As Dan Balz reports, “Several Republican candidates have vowed not to participate in Nevada’s GOP caucuses, now set for Jan. 14. They have declared solidarity with New Hampshire, whose secretary of state, William Gardner, has been demanding that Nevada move its caucuses or his state’s first-in-the-nation primary could be pushed into this coming December.” Gardner’s claim is hooey on multiple levels.
First, New Hampshire’s law specifies a seven-day window between New Hampshire and a similar election. But is the Nevada caucus really the same sort of contest as New Hampshire’s open primary? Gardner could easily say it isn’t and avoid the confrontation.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that Nevada’s Jan. 14 date does trigger the state law. What is wrong with Jan. 7 for New Hampshire? Gardner has told at least one campaign that this is no good because it is the Greek Orthodox Christmas. This, to the outside eye, might seem like a ludicrous excuse.
All right, then, what about Jan. 4, 5, or 6? Well, you see, New Hampshire voters like Tuesdays as their Election Day.
One can’t help believing that this is a giant ruse by Gardner, who is in a huff about Nevada moving too close to his state’s first primary prerogative.
There is a danger here that the Republican National Committee will have enough of New Hampshire’s theatrics and eventually take away its first-in-the-nation status. But in all likelihood Nevada will blink first, in part because of the candidates’ boycott.
Mitt Romney, who leads by a mile in New Hampshire and says he won’t boycott Nevada, may be the key here. I asked his campaign about a date switch. His spokeswoman said, “Governor Romney has always said he’ll compete whenever the date is. He also supports New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary status.” That is code, some might argue, for Nevada to get with the program.
Gardner is enjoying his moment in the sun. But at some point the RNC may decide that it’s been jerked around one too many times by the Granite State. And then Gardner would go down as the man who lost New Hampshire its prized political placement.