Iowa versus New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Democrats are less than thrilled with Iowa Democratic party leaders who they believe abandoned them when the going got tough.  As you may know, the Democratic National Committee voted this weekend to have the state of Nevada host party caucuses a few days after the Iowa Caucuses, which are currently "on" for January 14, 2008.  But that is by far from settled.

New Hampshire folk — residing in a state with the motto "Live Free or DIE!" — are up in arms over the DNC decision, which makes their contest third in the line-up.  So their Secretary of State, a Democrat, may choose to schedule the New Hampshire primary AHEAD of Iowa’s Caucuses.  And that decision won’t be made until late 2007. 

This can’t be good news for Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, who sidled up to New Hampshire Gov John Lynch (Lynch of the sizable public approval rating) during his (Vilsack’s) June visit to New Hampshire.  Lynch delivered some pretty strong statements at the DNC meeting this past weekend, something akin to the DNC didn’t create the New Hampshire Primary and we’ll have our party whenever we want to.  New Hampshire Democratic Party chair Kathy Sullivan delivered some strong rhetoric as well. 

New Hampshire residents are pretty protective of their primary, by the way.  I was standing outside the country club at a Manchester golf course (Vilsack and a bunch of Demorats were inside eating a vegetarian feast before the banquet speeches began) when a man who had just completed a round of golf and was waiting for his wife to pick him up asked me if I was a reporter, then he launched into a stirring defense of positioning New Hampshire’s primary at the head of the pack.  Vilsack will run into a lot of those folks in New Hampshire.  And the Clintons are in this mix as well, with former president Bill Clinton weighing in on New Hampshire’s side in this fight.  Does that mean HRC will skip party caucuses in Iowa and Nevada and start in New Hampshire?   

What happens on the Republican side if Iowa Democrats move their Caucuses as the jostling for position ensues?  Will Iowa Republicans reschedule their contest?  The Republicans set their presidential selection calendar in 2004 at their national convention in New York City.  GOP officials say Republicans have "historically" held their Caucuses in Iowa on the same night as the Democrats.  There’ll be great pressure to keep the events on the same night, partly to bask in the glow of all that national media attention. 

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.