New Hampshire is going to be the first primary, and Bill Gardner won't have it any other way. Gardner, secretary of state of New Hampshire, released a three-page
ultimatum statement today stating, "If Nevada does not accept a date of Tuesday, January 17th or later for its caucus, it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year." He uses the state's history as one of his talking point. "NEW HAMSHIRE [sic] IS FIRST FOR A REASON. [emphasis his, not ours] While New Hampshire has had a presidential primary since 1916, and has been first since 1920," wrote Gardner. "It is up to the candidates themselves to decide whether to campaign here. Ours is the first event where voters go into the privacy of the voting booth to make a choice for a candidate on the ballot. It tells the nation something about their support." Blame it all on Nevada, he writes:
IT’S REALLY UP TO NEVADA. If Nevada does not accept a date of Tuesday, January 17th or later for its caucus, it leaves New Hampshire no choice but to consider December of this year. The dates of Tuesday, December 13th and Tuesday, December 6th are realistic options, and we have logistics in place to make either date happen if needed.
Politico's Reid Epstein writes, "A lot hinges on Gardner’s decision... If he schedules the primary in December, ahead of Iowa’s caucus, he could unilaterally alter the the entire nature of the campaign, giving an advantage to Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, who’s remained far ahead in local polls." Epstein writes that Gardner does not use a cell phone or e-mail.
Gardner's reluctance to get a smartphone might be a reason he hasn't gotten in touch with Nevada's GOP chairwoman, Amy Tarkanian who reacted to the statement via a text to Politico: "WHAT??!!" Tarkanian then speculated on Gardner's political ties instead chalking Gardner's non-communication to just being off the grid. "He’s a Democrat, number one, so he wouldn’t necessarily talk with us," she said in the Politico report. "And he’s not thinking of Nevada first, he’s thinking of New Hampshire. It would have been nice [to get a call back from Gardner]. He didn’t have to, but it would have been nice."