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03 January 2011

Georgia Should Challenge New Hampshire's Primary Primacy

With more than a year until the first nominating contests in the 2012 presidential campaign, the usual jockeying over which state will hold its primary or caucuses first is beginning to dominate the political headlines.

As expected, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is raising his all-too-familiar ruckus over New Hampshire going first.

. . .Gardner [...] has warned that the Republican primary may have to be moved up because the proposed Feb. 14 date would land only four days before Nevada’s Feb. 18 caucus — a violation of New Hampshire laws that require the primary to take place a week before a “similar election” is held elsewhere. (Except Iowa, of course.)

Shear, Michael D. (2010-12-28). States Jockey, Again, to Vote First in 2012. The Caucus. Retrieved on 2011-1-3.

It's always confused me why two small states like Iowa and New Hampshire hold such a large influence over the presidential nominating process.

Georgia has sixteen electoral votes. Iowa and New Hampshire have a combined ten. Georgia can buy and sell New Hampshire's three piddly electoral votes five times over. It takes nearly three Iowas to equal one Georgia in the electoral college.

But Iowa and New Hampshire have to go first. Riiiiiight.

Currently, Georgia law sets the presidential preference primary date as the "first Tuesday in February" [O.C.G.A. 21-2-191]. That date is February 7th in the year 2012. Ten other states share that date with Georgia.

Georgia, and none of the ten other states with primaries or caucuses scheduled for February 7, 2012, should bow down to that small northeastern state.

If New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner wants to move his state's primary back into January or December, let him move it. Here in Georgia, we should keep our date the same. The Peach State's presidential primary should remain on the first Tuesday in February.

Damn the consequences (including the Democrat and Republican parties' delegate selection rules).