Throughout a 2012 jailbreak by a handful of states trying to shift their contests ahead throughout the contested Republican main, Gardner threatened to schedule New Hampshire’s contest in December 2011 if that’s what it took to protect New Hampshire’s spot as the primary main state. (POLITICO’s headline on the time: “N.H.’s Gardner to Nevada: Drop lifeless.”)
In a meandering retirement press convention on Monday — the place he touched on every thing from a current go to from a North Carolina state legislative chief to pulling the state’s unique copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Invoice of Rights out of the partitions of the State Home — Gardner stated his retirement doesn’t imply New Hampshire will likely be any much less aggressive about defending its spot.
“No, it’s not a nasty day” for the state’s standing, he advised reporters. “Our main is stronger each 4 years, as a result of each time we now have one it makes it stronger.”
“There isn’t a motive to assume that this main is in any tougher place than it has been,” he continued. “There will likely be challenges. They’ll discover new methods to try [it], but it surely ought to be okay.”
Some Democrats have been agitating to shake up the first calendar forward of the 2024 election, arguing that the predominantly white New Hampshire and Iowa — which holds its caucuses earlier than the Granite State’s primaries — are unrepresentative of each the Democratic citizens and the nation as an entire.
The late Sen. Harry Reid lengthy tried to maneuver Nevada to the entrance of the road, which Gardner famous in his farewell press convention. Nevada’s Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a regulation in 2021 that switches the state from a party-run caucus system to a state-run presidential main that will likely be held on the “first Tuesday in February,” a bid to dethrone New Hampshire that Gardner brushed apart on the time.
“Harry Reid’s been doing this for over half a century now, and we’re simply ready for him to expire of steam,” Gardner stated in June, noting the state has repeatedly held January primaries.
And a number of the push to shake up Democrats’ main calendar has already misplaced momentum, with some state celebration chairs lately predicting to POLITICO that the celebration will punt the contentious query down the street.
Distinguished New Hampshire politicos from each events highlighted Gardner’s bulldog protection of the state’s main in farewell statements — Gardner “fiercely shield[ing]” its standing was the very first thing GOP Gov. Chris Sununu famous in his assertion — and plenty of stated they had been assured that his retirement wouldn’t imperil the state’s first-in-the-nation function.
Gardner is hardly the one New Hampshire determine invested within the first main — and politicians of each events are anticipated to defend it simply as furiously as he has.
“I believe that the 4 early states working along with our Republican counterparts and elected officers and RNC and DNC members and different events, I believe we now have a powerful case to be made, and I believe in the end profitable,” stated Ray Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Celebration. “Definitely, Invoice Gardner has performed a really outstanding public function within the final 44 years defending New Hampshire’s standing, however there was an infinite quantity of individuals behind the scenes that may nonetheless be round.”
In the meantime, nationwide Republicans have proven a lot much less of an urge for food to vary the calendar than there’s been on the Democratic facet, with potential 2024 hopefuls already flocking to each Iowa and New Hampshire.
Fergus Cullen, a former chair of the New Hampshire Republican Celebration, stated “the legal guidelines which Invoice helped shepherd by means of over the many years give us a certain quantity of safety.”
“Definitely, the remainder of state authorities and his successors will likely be well-versed within the totally different levers and instruments which might be out there to them,” Cullen stated.
Nonetheless, Cullen acknowledged that forces exterior of any secretary of state’s management might undermine New Hampshire’s standing. “In the end, it’s the candidates who resolve whether or not New Hampshire has a first-in-the-nation main and whether or not it’s significant,” he stated. “In the event that they hold exhibiting up, we’ll have one. And after they cease — as a result of they don’t assume it’s of their strategic pursuits or they don’t have a degree enjoying discipline — that’s the way it ends.”
Gardner’s retirement signifies that Republicans will doubtless now management the workplace within the state. He stated on Monday that he could be succeeded by David Scanlan, a former Republican state legislator who has been deputy secretary of state since 2002.
Gardner has additionally clashed with Democrats within the state and nationally. The conservative Democrat joined a fee fashioned by then-President Donald Trump in 2017 that was meant to chase voter fraud, which angered Democrats within the state and helped gas an intraparty problem that nearly unseated Gardner in 2018. He appeared to defend his resolution to sit down on that fee — and reiterated his criticism of Washington Democrats’ sweeping voting rights proposals — throughout his farewell press convention.
The whole membership of the state legislature elects a secretary of state each different 12 months. Republicans backed Gardner throughout his contested reelection bid in 2018, and he ran unopposed in 2020. The GOP controls each chambers of the state legislature, that are each up later this 12 months.