Cook On Concord: The ‘Nevada effect’ remains to be seen
As all political junkies now know, the Democratic National Committee has selected Nevada as the location for a nominating caucus to be held between the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary in 2008. There has been a lot of speculation that the power of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and the influence of a number of interest groups in Nevada resulted in that state’s selection. What is interesting from a New Hampshire perspective is the question of whether having another caucus in a western state will diminish the status of New Hampshire’s primary as the first test of potential presidents by secret ballot. New Hampshire, as most people know, has a state law that requires its contest to be scheduled before any similar election in “another state” by at least a week. Secretary of State William Gardner has to determine whether the Nevada caucus is an “equivalent” selection contest and, because it has been placed closer than a week, whether he needs to move the New Hampshire primary ahead — whether ahead of Iowa or just ahead of Nevada. There has been a lot of crossfire between the heads of political parties over who is to blame for this situation, who has tried hard enough to defend the primary and what the effect of all this will be. What is certain is that all potential candidates are and will be asked to pledge allegiance to the New Hampshire primary as the most important electoral event in the Western World each time they come to New Hampshire. Looking back at past elections, New Hampshire certainly has lost some luster, as hand-to-hand combat has given way to media campaigns and as New Hampshire’s record as an always accurate predictor of the ultimate result has been tarnished. What Secretary Gardner does and how the parties react to it will be great political and legal drama over the next year.