Jul 14, 2016 12:42 AM

Next two days 'are the test' in NH's fight to stay first in GOP primary calendar

NH1 News Political Director

The next big test in New Hampshire’s fight to keep its first-in-the-nation primary status in the GOP presidential primary calendar could come as early as Thursday, when the Rules Committee for the Republican National Convention convenes.

The state's already cleared two hurdles this week in what's a four step process.

Tuesday the Republican National Committee’s 56-member permanent Rules Committee, meeting in Cleveland ahead of next week’s nominating convention, passed recommended rules that left the current carve out rule in place. That keeps Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina at the head of the primary and caucus calendar. Wednesday, the full RNC voted unanimously to recommend those rules to the 112-member convention Rules Committee.

“Good success so far. Next two days are the test,” Steve Duprey emailed NH1 News on Wednesday.

Duprey’s the longtime Republican National Committee committeeman from New Hampshire and veteran Rules Committee member who’s long led the fight to keep the Granite State primary first in the GOP calendar.

What ever the convention Rules Committee approves either Thursday or Friday will go to the floor of the convention Monday for a final vote.

The latest threat was a proposal to match up Iowa (the first caucus state), New Hampshire, and South Carolina (the first southern state to vote in the primary calendar) with neighboring states on a rotating basis.

Discussing the plan, Duprey told NH1 News last week “it’s an innovative idea because the argument will be you’re spending the money on Boston TV, it’s a state right next door, you can drive to, there’s no extra expense. But the fact of the matter is if you had to campaign in six states instead of three, it would cut out a whole layer of candidates who wouldn’t have the opportunity to participate. So I’m hopeful that we can defeat it, but it’s going to be a tough fight. Interestingly, all 16 our presidential candidates have said they support keeping Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina first. We intend to call in those commitments.”

The Granite State, which allows independents to vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries, also faced a push supported by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to penalize states holding open contests.

WATCH/REACH: NH1 News talks 1-on-1 with the man trying to keep NH first

Asked about the push against open or semi-open primaries, Duprey said “you know it cuts both ways. In 2012 the complaint was Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina picked the nominee. This time we set up the rules so more states could participate. Thirty-eight different states had conventions, caucuses or primaries. More states got to participate. Now the complaint is that it took too long and that it was too messy. That’s exactly what we asked for. And in those 38 states there are some closed states primaries fairly early on. I think it’s important to one of your earlier states like New Hampshire be an open state because it shows whether your message can attract independents and you need them to win a general election. This whole effort isn’t about winning the Republican nomination. Been there, done that with John McCain. It’s about winning the presidency of the United States. So while there’s some state who argue that it should be closed. I think that would be terrible for the Republican Party’s prospects of winning in a general election.”

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