Nothing’s set in stone up north, but Florida officially moved its own primary to January 31st today so the early-state dominoes are about to fall. Here’s the first domino, already wobbling. New Hampshire’s potentially much more of a Christie state than a Palin state, so of the two late entrants, this would hurt him more than her. But of course, if New Hampshire moves up to December, Iowa’s going to move too to retain its pride of place. And Iowa’s probably a must-have for her if she gets in.
This year, it’s a Christmas caucus!
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has unilateral control to set the Granite State’s date, moved up the presidential primary filing period to begin Oct. 17 and ending October 28, signaling the New Hampshire primary contest will be moved up in the calendar.
“Unfortunately, we’ll be unable to have the upcoming presidential primary on the second Tuesday in March and will continue to honor the tradition of our first-in-the-nation presidential primary,” Gardner told NBC News. “Because we cannot rule out of the possibility of conducting the primary before the end of this year, we are, regrettably, as we were four years ago, forced to move the presidential candidates filing period to October.”
Until today, the first ballot deadline was Florida’s on October 31. New Hampshire just shaved three days off that window. (There’s no deadline for Iowa because it’s a caucus.) And even for the later primaries, there’s not as much time left as you think:
Furthermore, the number of hoops candidates must jump through to get on some states’ ballots means it is likely already too late to enter the 2012 fray, said Matthew Sanderson, who helped with balloting issues for Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. In Virginia, for instance, candidates have until Dec. 22 to submit the signatures of 10,000 qualified voters, including 400 from each congressional district. The Virginia State Board of Elections recommends that candidates collect 15,000 to 20,000 signatures and 700 from each district “because many people who are not registered to vote will sign a petition.”
Mr. Sanderson said the drop-dead date is fast approaching. A late entry, he said, is not “impossible, but it does make success harder to achieve.”
Christie could get this done, I assume, because some of his core support is coming from fabulously wealthy Republican donors who can bankroll the staff needed to get the petitions done. Palin, whose organization is more DIY and heavily dependent on small donors, may have a tougher time. As for why Florida would move its primary up knowing that the RNC will penalize it by subtracting half of its delegates, two reasons. One: New Hampshire and South Carolina will also lose half their delegates by moving up to stay ahead of Florida, so to some extent the cost is spread. Two: Who cares about the delegates? Unless the GOP race goes down to the wire in the spring, the nomination won’t turn on those lost delegates. It’s more important for Florida to be seen as an early kingmaker than to retain all of its convention votes.
Via Newsbusters, here’s video of NRO’s Robert Costa, who hears from Christie’s people that you-know-who is “closer now to running than he ever has been.” The AP and the Newark Star-Ledger are hearing more or less the same thing. The decision might be made this weekend or early next week, but we’ll know soon. As for Palin, I’ve seen no signs. But Red State is keeping a solitary vigil…