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N.H. Sets Filing,
But Not Primary Date

We know it's moving up, but when, exactly, will the New Hampshire primary be?

Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the man who will decide, isn't saying -- yet. But he's getting ready for a much earlier vote, just in case.

On Friday, Gardner officially set the three-week filing period, during which presidential hopefuls can register their intention to be a candidate and pay the required $1,000. That period will start on Oct. 15 and run until Nov. 2, the earliest its ever been.

In an interview Friday, Gardner said the early filing period will give the state the flexibility to hold the coveted first primary "much earlier" if necessary. But he quickly added that he has not yet picked a date.

"I don't know when it will be. I don't," he insisted.

In 2004, the New Hampshire primary was in late January, the first time it had occurred earlier than February. This time, it's almost certain to fall well before Jan. 15, when Michigan is holding its own primary. The earlier filing period would allow preparations to be in place even if the primary were to move to December -- though few expect that to happen.

For now, Gardner is not even saying when he will decide. In 2004, he announced the decision a week after the end of the filing period. Could he do that again?

"I could," he said.

But no promises.

--Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  September 28, 2007; 5:43 PM ET
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