New Hampshire sets its primary for Jan. 10

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — New Hampshire will hold its presidential primary on Jan. 10, filling out the campaign calendar for the initial voting for presidential nominees next winter.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner announced the date, waiting to the last minute to make sure his state again has the first primary.

Iowa will kick off the season, with the first precinct caucuses on Jan. 3. After that, the Republican presidential campaign will head to New Hampshire for a full week. President Barack Obama is not now being seriously challenged for the Democratic nomination.

After New Hampshire, the campaign will move to South Carolina, which will hold its first-in-the-South primary on Jan. 21. South Carolina will offer more-conservative candidates a chance to solidify their gains, or to rebound after a disappointing finish in New Hampshire. In 2000, George W. Bush lost New Hampshire, then rebounded in South Carolina and went on to win the nomination. Several candidates already are investing time or money in South Carolina, including Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas.

After South Carolina, the campaign moves down Interstate 95 to Florida, which will hold its primary on Jan. 31, the first test in a mega-state.

Florida will be the first state voting with a large Hispanic population as part of the mix. And with the winner taking all of its delegates, the state could cement a leading candidate’s momentum – or give new life to an alternative.

The next contest will come Feb. 4 in Nevada, the first in the West.

Party leaders had wanted Nevada to be one of the first four states to vote so that the campaign touched all four regions of the country – first in the Midwest with Iowa, then the Northeast with New Hampshire, then the South with South Carolina, and then the West with Nevada.But after Florida leapfrogged into the early voting, all the early states moved up their dates. Nevada at first picked Jan. 10, but that squeezed New Hampshire and risked a Nevada boycott from the candidates. Nevada ultimately moved back to February.

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