Sponsor Of New Hampshire First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary Law Asks Democrats To Support Republican Position For 2012

(Republicans met earlier this month - Democrats meet later this week)
The Republican National Committee has approved a schedule for the 2012 Presidential election that respects New Hampshire's First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary, and the Democratic National Committee should follow them.   The RNC approach recognizes New Hampshire's state law which requires our Secretary of State to set our primary date "...7 days or more..." before other contests to guarantee our "first" status. 
The RNC adopted a schedule that respects New Hampshire's primary law at a meeting in early August.  It sets aside all of February of 2012 for four states to hold their primaries or caucuses:  New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada.  The Republican plan does not set specific dates.  That flexibility is crucial.  It allows the NH Secretary of State to apply NH law on the primary to maintain the traditions of our "First-In-The-Nation" status.  A Democratic National Committee panel has proposed that the Iowa Caucuses be held Monday, February 6th.  They then try to require the New Hampshire Primary to be on Tuesday February 14th, and the Nevada Caucuses would occur on Saturday, February 18th.  The Democrats meet later this week to finalize that proposal.
The Democrats meet later this week to finalize that proposal.  With the Democratic plan, we're guaranteed to have a challenge to New Hampshire's traditional First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary since it schedules the Nevada Caucus just four days after New Hampshire.  The mandate of our state law would have to be enforced by our Secretary of State and he would set our date at least a week before the Nevada Caucus, which means that Iowa, and perhaps other states, would then engage in a reshuffling of their schedules similar to the nightmare that occurred in 2008.  The Republican plan respects New Hampshire's law.
The DNC panel's recommendation creates a situation similar to 2008 where there was uncertainty as to what the primary and caucus schedule would be until late fall of 2007, resulting in reshuffling.   The traditional role of the New Hampshire First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary has been that there is a period of seven days or more after New Hampshire before other nominating events are held, and our Secretary of State has used the mandates and authority of our state's first-in-the-nation primary law to set our date at a time that guarantees that tradition. 
That window of at least seven days after New Hampshire has been important to preserve the impact of our vote, which thereby makes participation in our Primary meaningful.  In 2008, since Iowa came just three days before New Hampshire, the relevance of their caucus was greatly reduced because New Hampshire Republican voters gave the nod to John McCain, who hadn't even taken part in the Iowa Caucus, and Democratic voters turned around the Iowa vote for Barack Obama by endorsing Hillary Clinton.  The New Hampshire Primary results were national news for two weeks after our vote, and the impact of NH was felt for the next five months as the campaigns continued.  In 2008, New Hampshire's impact was felt more than it had in decades.
The historic tradition has been that since 1920, New Hampshire has had its presidential primary at least seven days ahead of any other state.  When other states try to piggy-back on New Hampshire, we respond.  In 2012, we will have to do so again if the DNC schedule is not changed.  Our state law that we have a date a week or more ahead of other states must be followed by the Secretary of State.  He has no option.
We cannot allow the Democratic Party's Nevada Piggy-Back to occur, and we need to encourage our New Hampshire Democratic national party representatives to hold to a position that there will not be another major nominating event within a week after New Hampshire.  They should adopt the Republican approach.
Our state law mandates that our Secretary of State move our primary "...7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election..." .  Legislation that I sponsored this year that was signed by Governor John Lynch became effective August 8th (cut-and-pasted below) further requires the Secretary of State to "protect the tradition of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation presidential primary." 
I expect that Secretary of State Bill Gardner will enthusiastically follow the requirements of our state law, and if the national Democratic Party doesn't join the Republicans in supporting our tradition in their rules, we will again have to comply with the mandate of our law to keep our state's tradition.  That "tradition" is AT LEAST SEVEN DAYS.  That uncertainty for 2012 about when our primary will be held can be largely solved by action by the national parties now.  The Republicans have acted positively.  Now the Democrats need to.
The decision about when the Iowa Caucus will be held eventually is to be determined by the people of the State of Iowa.  The decision about when the New Hampshire First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary will be held is determined by our Secretary of State as he follows the mandates of our state law.  We need to ask the Democrats to join the Republicans in appreciating all the traditions of our primary.   
Jim Splaine
NH State Representative
Rockingham District 16
Portsmouth & Newington
Portsmouth, NH  03801
Rule #15(b) Adopted By The Republicans:
1.  No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held.  Except Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada may begin their processes at any time on or after February 1 in the year in which a national convention is held ..."
The above is the part of the rules adopted by the Republican National Convention which affect the New Hampshire First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary.  This language should be adopted by the Democratic National Convention as well.
New Hampshire's Updated First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary Law:
House Bill 341, Signed by Governor John Lynch on June 9th, 2010, effective August 8th (the paragraph in the bill repeats the current long-standing NH First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary Law, which I originally sponsored in 1975 and to which I have authored three other updates since then):



AN ACT relative to the date selected for the presidential primary election.

SPONSORS: Rep. Splaine, Rock 16

COMMITTEE: Election Law


This bill modifies the statute relating to the date for the presidential primary election.

Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics (and underline).


In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Ten

AN ACT relative to the date selected for the presidential primary election.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

121:1 Election Dates; Presidential Primary Election. Amend RSA 653:9 to read as follows:

653:9 Presidential Primary Election. The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier, of each year when a president of the United States is to be elected or the year previous. Said primary shall be held in connection with the regular March town meeting or election or, if held on any other day, at a special election called by the secretary of state for that purpose. The purpose of this section is to protect the tradition of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

121:2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

Approved: June 9, 2010

Effective Date: August 8, 2010