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 Floridas Jan. 29 vote, to reclaim his state
partys 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 Hampshires longtime Secretary of State Bill
Gardner, who alone has the power to set that states
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
A prominent South Carolina Republican who spoke with
Dawson this week said that both South Carolinas
Republicans and New Hampshire would make a change. But
another source suggested that only Dawson would
announce a change, while New Hampshires Gardner would
appear as a show of support for South Carolina
Republicans and remain mum on his plans for now. One
reason: The Democratic Partys 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, Iowas party caucuses
must be eight days before New Hampshires primaries,
and New Hampshire, by law, requires its primaries to
be a week before any states similar contest.
So New Hampshire had tentatively planned on Jan. 22
primaries, eight days after Iowas 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 Carolinas Republican
primary would be at least 10 days before Floridas
Jan. 29 primaries, but not on the same day as Nevadas
caucuses, which are Jan. 19, and 12 days after New
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 Iowas 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 campaigns 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.