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Story highlights

The New Hampshire Secretary of State set the primary for February 9

The primary is the first in the series of nationwide party primary elections

(CNN) —  

The New Hampshire primary will be on February 9.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner set the date on Thursday for the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary.

Gardner previously told CNN he would set the date only once he was certain no states would challenge the rule that any “similar election” must happen at least seven days after New Hampshire’s. Gardner has often had to move up the date of the primary to ward off challenges from other states seeking to schedule their primaries earlier to gain prominence and influence in the election process.

The Iowa caucus – the first in the country – is February 1 next year, while the Nevada caucus is February 20 for Democrats and February 23 for the GOP. The South Carolina Republican primary comes on February 20 while the state’s Democratic Primary is set for February 27.

“Super Tuesday” will take place March 1 and includes the Alabama primary, Alaska Republican caucuses, American Samoa Democratic territorial caucus, Arkansas primary, Colorado caucuses, Georgia primary, Massachusetts primary, Minnesota caucuses, Oklahoma primary, Tennessee primary, Texas primary, Vermont primary, Virginia primary and Wyoming Republican caucuses.

On the Republican side, Donald Trump leads the field in New Hampshire, with rivals Marco Rubio and Chris Christie vying for second place.

Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont, leads national front-runner Hillary Clinton in the Granite State.

Past New Hampshire results

Hillary Clinton won the 2008 New Hampshire Democratic primary, which was the first time a woman had ever won a major party’s presidential primary.

Clinton’s emotional response on the eve of the primary to being asked how she stays motivated is in part credited with saving her campaign, after she had suffered an earlier loss in the Iowa caucuses to Barack Obama.

Gardner said that type of turnaround is what makes his state’s primary so exciting.

“There’s always unscripted moments; I can’t predict all of them,” Gardner said. “But they happen. I can tell you that the candidates have moments that they didn’t plan to have.”

John McCain won the New Hampshire Republican primary in 2008 when it was held on January 8. Obama and Mitt Romney won their parties’ respective primaries in New Hampshire in 2012 on January 10.

Gardner said 2016 will be the 8th time the state’s primary was held in February.

Nearly 60 people – 30 Republicans and 28 Democrats – are expected to appear on the ballot this year, he said.

Potential candidates have shown with no money to pay the $1,000 fee but tried to bargain with snake skin, fake credit cards and even hula dancers, Gardner said.