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N.H. Primary Set for Jan. 8

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The Calendar Chaos is over.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner declared today that his state will hold its presidential primary on Jan. 8, assuring a speedy schedule in which voting will take place once a week for the first five weeks of 2008.

"Another unique important American tradition will endure," Gardner said Wednesday afternoon, ending speculation that he might move his state's first-in-the-nation primary to December for the first time ever.

New Hampshire's primary had been scheduled for later in January. But that was before South Carolina, Michigan and Florida officials all broke ranks from their party leadership and moved their voting earlier.

Those actions started a cascade of calendar changes, and resulted in confusion among the presidential strategists, who crave the certainty of a settled schedule as they map out their campaign plans.

At the heart of the anxiety was what Gardner would do. New Hampshire has for years been the first primary (Iowa typically holds a caucus a week earlier) and Gardner had hinted he might move it into 2007 to stay first.

Gardner had said he would wait until the other states made their decisions. Michigan passed a law earlier this year to hold their primaries on Jan. 15, but that law was left in limbo by a court challenge that was resolved today by the Michigan Supreme Court. The court ruled the primary could go ahead as scheduled. That gave Gardner the green light.

New Hampshire is once again shaping up as a critical test for candidates in both parties, and especially for Republicans, where the leading candidates are staying close to each other in public polls.

The schedule now stands like this:

Jan. 3: Iowa caucus.
Jan. 5: Wyoming GOP caucus
Jan. 8: New Hampshire primary
Jan. 15: Michigan primary
Jan. 19: Nevada caucuses and South Carolina GOP primary
Jan. 26: South Carolina Democratic primary
Jan 29: Florida primary
Feb. 5: Tsunami Tuesday. (more than 20 states)

--Michael D. Shear

By Post Editor  |  November 21, 2007; 4:55 PM ET
 
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