One of the little known and little understood dramas of this presidential race is the date of the New Hampshire primary. Earlier this week James Pindell of the Boston Globe’s Primary Source wrote:
“Like we have before we are going to honor the Iowa law,” said New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner to reporters before a dinner honoring those involved in the New Hampshire Primary. “I hope [Iowa] will honor ours as well.”
New Hampshire law requires that its primary be at least a week before any similar election. The Iowa caucuses, in which voters express their candidate preferences to neighbors in living-room settings, have not been considered similar enough to justify moving the date of the New Hampshire primary.
But this year, the Democratic National Committee has voted to put a second caucus, in Nevada, between New Hampshire and Iowa. Since the structure of the Nevada caucuses is unknown, Gardner has reserved judgment on whether to move the primary date ahead of Nevada — even if being a week ahead of Nevada meant jumping ahead of Iowa as well.
However, according to the AP, today, a bill passed the New Hampshire House that clarifies that Nevada would be a "similar election":
Now Gardner must decide whether the Nevada caucuses constitute a "similar election" under state law. In the past he has had the implicit authority to do that, but Rep. Jim Splaine, a Portsmouth Democrat, wanted to make that explicit for Gardner and future secretaries of state.
House Bill 272 passed as part of the House’s consent calendar Tuesday.
Splaine has said he worries that other states or political parties disputing the primary date could sue over the secretary of state’s interpretation of a "similar election."
The article points out just how crazy this could get:
Gardner has not told anyone what he plans to do, but he is widely expected to leapfrog ahead of Nevada and Iowa. Once he knows who will be on the ballot, he can announce the date as little as three weeks ahead of the primary. The bill also makes the candidate filing period more flexible, so he can move it earlier than in the past.\