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May 02. 2014 9:45PM

Democrats want Feb. 9 primary

MANCHESTER — The 2016 New Hampshire Presidential Primary is getting closer.

The Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws committee released a schedule Friday that calls for New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary to be held on Feb. 9, 2016. The date still needs to be approved by the full DNC, then go to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner for the final say.

“This is an important step in returning the primary to February,” said Ray Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

The Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary traditionally kick off the official presidential campaign season, but the dates have been pushed to early January in the past two campaigns in order to fend off other states attempting to grab some attention.

New Hampshire Republicans have yet to propose a date, but they also appear to be looking at February. The GOP’s National Committee voted earlier this year to shorten the primary season with New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina and Nevada hosting primaries or caucuses in February.

Feb. 9 would be the latest date for the New Hampshire Primary since it was held on Feb. 1 in 2000. The New Hampshire Primary was held on Jan. 10 two years ago and Jan. 8 in 2008.

Buckley was hopeful that both parties have come up with significant penalties that will discourage other states bumping up the calendar, causing the campaign to overlap with the holidays.

“It is important to give the voters of New Hampshire and Iowa the opportunity to focus on candidates and the campaign,” Buckley said.

Under the dates approved by the committee vote Friday, the Iowa caucuses would take place on Feb. 1, followed by the Granite State’s traditional primary eight days later.

Gardner said his obligation is to uphold state law, which calls for New Hampshire to hold its primary at least a week ahead of any other state.

“If it ends up with these dates, it would honor the primary tradition,” Gardner said. “But this is helpful because it does respect the tradition of the primary.”

dalden@unionleader.com


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