NHPrimary.com: Under new plan, state stays first on primary calendar
By KEVIN LANDRIGAN/The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H.
November 5, 1999
Web posted at: 10:33 a.m. EST (1533 GMT)
CONCORD, New Hampshire (The Telegraph of Nashua) - A national group of election officers want presidential candidates to back a plan to rotate primaries but retain New Hampshire's first-in the-nation status.
California Secretary of State Bill Jones, a Republican, and Massachusetts Secretary Bill Galvin, a Democrat, co-signed a letter seeking candidates support for the reform, which would rotate early primary dates for four regions while keeping first Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.
"We cant put the genie back in the bottle of states trying to move up, but it time we came up with an orderly way to make the nomination process last longer and have more and not fewer voters involved in making the choice," Galvin said during a telephone interview.
In their letter, Galvin and Jones note that the front-loading of early primaries has reduced the field of candidates and made it less likely that a relative newcomer can succeed.
"Whatever the final outcome, it now seems clear that the traditional presidential primary selection process which has served as a means for both parties to test their prospective nominees and introduce new and lesser-known candidates, is now lost," they wrote.
"Significant candidates of both parties have chosen to forego the race because of financial concerns about the pressures of a simultaneous, multi-state campaign."
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State last year while the presidential primary committee chaired by Galvin came up with this proposal.
It would split the nation into four regions: Eastern, Southern, Midwestern and Western, with Iowa and New Hampshire exempted to retain their first-in-the-nation status.
All states in each region would take turns every four years holding primaries during the first week of March, April, May and June.
Gardner said this would help ensure that states from across the country could participate in the nominating process.
Next year it likely the nominations in both the Democratic and Republican primaries will be wrapped up by the middle next March because as more than three dozen states will have held primaries by then.
"In order to adopt this reform by the respective states, we need broad bipartisan support," Carroll and Galvin wrote.
"While the problems of the present election calendar are most familiar, to that end we are writing to all presidential candidates to ask them for their public support of this change."
Texas Gov. and GOP front-runner George W. Bush told The Washington Post last week he looked favorably on the plan, which also has the support of the Council of State Governments and National Association of Lieutenant Governors
Jones serves on the commission Republican National Chairman Jim Nicholson named to study the nominating system and issue a draft report for changes to the RNC in January.
Democratic National Chairman Joe Andrew has asked his Rules and By-Laws Committees to study the future calendar and it has scheduled a public forum on the subject Nov. 20.