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First Presidential Votes Might Be Cast in 2007

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2007/08/08/2942 August 8, 2007, 12:30 pm First Presidential Votes Might Be Cast in 2007 Jackie Calmes reports on the 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 8, 2007

      August 8, 2007, 12:30 pm
      First Presidential Votes Might Be Cast in 2007

      Jackie Calmes reports on the 2008 presidental race.

      CampaignThe first 2008 presidential votes may be
      moving into 2007 after all, making a race that has
      started earlier than ever even more intense.

      South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson
      will announce that he is moving its primary date ahead
      of Florida’s Jan. 29 vote, to reclaim his state
      party’s “first in the South” presidential-nominating
      banner. But he will do so in New Hampshire, home of
      the first-in-the-nation primary. And he will be joined
      by New Hampshire’s longtime Secretary of State Bill
      Gardner, who alone has the power to set that state’s
      date for both parties, now tentatively Jan. 22.

      If both were to move their dates up, that likely would
      force Iowa — always protective of its party caucuses
      as the first nominating contests of any kind — to
      consider moving its date from next Jan. 14 into
      pre-Christmas December.

      A prominent South Carolina Republican who spoke with
      Dawson this week said that both South Carolina’s
      Republicans and New Hampshire would make a change. But
      another source suggested that only Dawson would
      announce a change, while New Hampshire’s Gardner would
      appear as a show of support for South Carolina
      Republicans and remain mum on his plans for now. One
      reason: The Democratic Party’s rules committee meets
      later this month, and all of this state maneuvering is
      in violation of both parties’ rules. Those rules have
      sought to prevent the front-loading of presidential
      nominating contests, but the threatened penalties —
      forfeiture of convention delegates — have proven weak.

      Traditionally New Hampshire and Iowa have coordinated
      to protect their early-voting status — with the
      support of the national parties, and presidential
      candidates eager for their votes — but with each
      presidential-election cycle, the pressure has grown
      from other states coveting candidates’ attention to
      them and their issues. By law, Iowa’s party caucuses
      must be eight days before New Hampshire’s primaries,
      and New Hampshire, by law, requires its primaries to
      be a week before any state’s similar contest.

      So New Hampshire had tentatively planned on Jan. 22
      primaries, eight days after Iowa’s caucuses. South
      Carolina Republicans had planned to hold primaries on
      Feb. 2; state Democrats’ are on Jan 29. Speaking in
      something of a riddle, Dawson told his fellow state
      Republican this week that South Carolina’s Republican
      primary would be at least 10 days before Florida’s
      Jan. 29 primaries, but not on the same day as Nevada’s
      caucuses, which are Jan. 19, and 12 days after New
      Hampshire’s primary.

      That suggests New Hampshire ultimately could be moving
      as early as the first week of January. Iowa would then
      be certain to move up from Jan. 14. To avoid getting
      caught in the holiday period, Iowans have said the
      caucuses would have to be in mid-December.

      While all the campaigns have braced for that prospect,
      it still would wreak havoc in their Iowa operations.
      Since Iowa’s unique caucuses require getting
      supporters out to vote for an entire winter evening,
      in unfamiliar living rooms or meetings halls across
      the state, they pose an organizational challenge in a
      typical year. But, lamented one campaign’s Iowa
      operative, “How do you do this mobilizing around
      Christmas? It would be a real challenge.”

      “Nobody wants to go in December, but Iowa will be
      first,” said Carrie Giddins, communications director
      for the state Democratic Party.
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