March 2, 2007


Holding New Hampshire's primary in place
: Secretary of State Bill Gardner has held the office since 1976. He makes sure its presidential contest continues to be first (Mark Z. Barabak, March 2, 2007, LA Times)

BILL Gardner was at it again, mucking up Democrats' timetable for picking their presidential nominee by insisting on the date he wanted for New Hampshire's vote.

So one day, frustrated party leaders sent an emissary to the state Capitol to deal with the balky secretary of state. Gardner, however, would not bend. He was adamant about preserving New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary by pushing the contest forward a week, rather than have it share its election day with Vermont.

The result was a lecture that still rings in his ears nearly 25 years later: You're a young man and probably hope for a bright political future. If you do this, you will never be elected to another office.

The party's emissary, Nancy Pelosi, was right. She went on to much bigger things (and can't recall the conversation). Gardner, 58, is still in the same office -- and utterly delighted at life's fortune. And why not? Gardner is probably the most influential figure in national politics you've never heard of.

He is the one and only person in New Hampshire with the power to schedule the state's presidential primary. It has been first since 1920, making the vote a signal event on the national political calendar -- and giving voters of this tiny state an enormous say every four years in deciding who sits in the White House.

It has been Gardner's mission, his obsession, since 1976 to preserve the state's preeminence, and nothing -- not lobbying, not threats, not even the occasional flicker of self-doubt -- can dissuade him from doing whatever it takes to make sure New Hampshire's primary always, always comes first.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 2, 2007 8:50 AM

Why not move it up two years and have the NH primary on the off-year election day.

It sounds like an Onion Headline, but it will happen in our lifetime.

Posted by: bruno at March 2, 2007 9:31 AM

You're not thinking this through. Little Canada should hold its primary on Election Day 4 years prior. Actually, more likely '008 will be the last year for it and Iowa, as well as the conventions, as all will be shown to be irrelevant and too expensive.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 2, 2007 9:44 AM

Raoul, you took the words right out of my finger tips.

Posted by: erp at March 2, 2007 11:39 AM