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May 26, 2016 10:58 PM

NH, Iowa, SC GOP leaders teaming up to protect primary status

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – The Republican party chairs from New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina team up Friday to discuss a unified strategy to defend the three states’ early voting status in the presidential primary and caucus calendar.

NH1 News has learned that New Hampshire GOP chair Jennifer Horn will join in a conference call with her counterparts from the Hawkeye and Palmetto states. On the agenda: Steps the three states can take to defeat proposals that are expected to come up at July’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland that would alter the current carve outs in the primary schedule.

For decades Iowa has kicked off the race for the White House with the first caucus, followed by New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary. South Carolina votes third, holding the first southern contest.

Also taking part in Friday’s call are the RNC members from the three states, including New Hampshire’s longtime committeeman Steve Duprey, who has long led efforts to keep the Granite State the first primary.

“I think there are some members of the leadership of the Republican National Committee who don’t see the value of the early three states but I think we’ve proven over and over again that we give the lesser well known, lesser well-funded candidate, a chance to be president of the United States,” Duprey told NH1 News on Thursday.

A resolution to end the carve out states was introduced in January at the RNC’s winter meeting in Charleston, South Carolina by Utah committeewoman Enid Mickelsen. It was tabled at the time. At the RNC’s spring meeting in April in Hollywood, Florida the motion was withdrawn. But it could come up again when the RNC’s Rules Committee meets again in the week prior to the July convention.

Another threat to New Hampshire’s primary status arose this week. The plan wouldn’t eliminate the three state’s early voting status, but it would pair them up neighboring states that do not vote early in the primary season. In New Hampshire’s case, the state would hold its primary on the same day as Massachusetts, or Maine.

Discussing the new plan, Duprey said “we’re going to treat this threat as a very serious one. We’ll marshal the forces and make our case again.”

Duprey said this year’s unconventional battle for the Republican nomination, which resulted in Donald Trump as the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, has led some RNC members to complaint that the process was “too messy.”

“Be careful what you wish for. The process worked well. New Hampshire did an exceptional job,” Duprey added.

Trump backs New Hampshire

At a late December rally in Nashua, Trump declared that “New Hampshire will always maintain its place if I win.”

It was a pledge he repeated numerous times in the weeks leading up to the primary.

On Thursday Trump campaign manager and New Hampshire resident Corey Lewandowksi, in response to a report in the New York Times regarding the new plan to alter the primary calendar, said that if Trump’s elected to the White House, “the primary won’t be moving.”

Duprey told NH1 News that “we very much appreciate that comment and he doesn’t have to win the presidency to help save the New Hampshire primary. We’re going to call on him and all his delegates to support Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina at the convention, which is where this will be initially decided. Although I’m sure the committee will keep jurisdiction for the next couple of years. “

“We’re also fortunate in that every single candidate who filed and ran in New Hampshire pledged their support for keeping Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina first. So we’re going to work with all of those candidates as well as our presumptive nominee Donald Trump to make sure that everybody works together to defeat this proposal,” he added.

According to Duprey, the resolutions will first be considered at a meeting of the Rules Committee in Cleveland the week before the convention. Duprey is one of the 58 RNC members on the committee.

The next day the full 168 members of the RNC would vote on what the Rules Committee approves. Those “suggestions” then go the following week to the convention’s Rules Committee, which consists of 116 convention delegates. The final say comes from the 2,500 delegates attending the Republican convention.

But Duprey says the convention may not be end of the fight.

“Even if we win everywhere there, and it’s a tall order and a tough battle, then historically the last two cycles, starting in 2008, the Republican National Committee has kept jurisdiction over the issue, or some parts of it, for two or three years into the cycle. So now it’s sort of a year round ball game”

RNC Committeeman Steve Duprey speaks with NH1 News on Thursday, May 26, 2016

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