New Primary Calendar Calls 2020 Relevance of NH Into Question


New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary is fiercely protected by the state's electorate. So speculation of reduced relevancy in 2020 has some Granite Staters on edge.

Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker are just a few of the Democratic presidential candidates who have visited New Hampshire recently and intend to return soon.

Another Democrat to visit the state, former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, is a prime example of a lesser-known candidate who sees New Hampshire as a place to make a splash.

"Because it's small, it's affordable for those campaigns that are maybe in start-up stage and don't have deep pockets," explained political consultant Scott Spradling.

But could that New Hampshire clout be reduced in 2020? Some say yes, based on the primary calendar, which shows a beefed-up March 3 Super Tuesday, including Texas and newly added, delegate-rich California, just three weeks after New Hampshire.

"That makes Granite State election officials nervous because it could pull candidates' attention and money and time away from New Hampshire," Spradling said.

Longtime New Hampshire political consultant Tom Rath says he has seen no evidence of that and is not concerned.

"All you have to do is take a look at who is here this week and who is here next week," he said.

The list includes former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. John Delaney.

"I think the activity level, at this stage, is as great as I've ever seen it," Rath said.

Others say some lesser-known candidates could stay away, concerned that Warren and Bernie Sanders, from neighboring states, will dominate.

"Be careful," Spradling said. "The crystal ball is still extraordinarily foggy when it comes to predicting outcomes for the New Hampshire primary."

Old timers caution candidates to avoid New Hampshire at their peril, since history shows the winner often goes on to win the nomination.

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