New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner today announced that the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary will take place on Jan. 8, the earliest date ever for a primary ballot in a presidential election year.
The much anticipated announcement came a few hours after the Michigan Supreme Court said that state's Jan. 15 primary can go ahead. Michigan is among many states bringing forward their primaries in the 2008 presidential race with the goal of having more influence.
With the Iowa caucuses set to take place on Jan. 3, the New Hampshire primary will now occur just five days later, compressing the primary schedule to an unprecedented extent. Campaigns are struggling to work out their travel plans and advertising strategies to adjust to the rapidly changing primary schedule.
Under New Hampshire law, the state's primary must take place at least a week before any other state's primary ballot. National Republican Party officials, however, have threatened to take away half New Hampshire's 24 delegates to the national convention next summer because of the early date.
Candidates of both parties quickly responded, careful to bow to New Hampshire's traditional role.
"It is good news that New Hampshire's traditional role in the process has been maintained," Republican Mitt Romney said in a statement. "I will work to ensure that all New Hampshire's delegates are seated at the convention."
Democrat Chris Dodd said in a statement, "By setting January 8th as the date of New Hampshire's primary, Secretary Gardner has provided certainty for voters and maintained New Hampshire's traditional role as the first in the nation primary. I'm looking forward to a vigorous campaign and presenting my record of results to the people of New Hampshire."
"I am pleased that New Hampshire will retain its rightful place as the first-in-the-nation primary," chimed in Democrat John Edwards. "I applaud Bill Gardner's work to protect New Hampshire's significance in our nominating process. The New Hampshire primary is critical because voters in New Hampshire take their responsibility seriously: they listen to the candidates, look them in the eye, ask them tough questions and size them up. In New Hampshire, ideas truly matter more than money and that is precisely why this is anyone's race."