Iowa and New Hampshire: tiff continues over the first-in-the-nation status.
Wednesday, October 13, 1999
Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa has apparently backed off his tough claim of a week ago that IOWA would not be moving its caucus up a week to accommodate NEW HAMPSHIRE having moved its primary up a week to Tuesday 1 February 2000. Governor Vilsack was quoted on Monday 11 October as saying he would support whatever decision the political parties reach regarding the date of the Iowa caucuses. This appears to clear a major hurdle to moving the Iowa caucuses up to Monday 24 January 2000, the same day as Alaska's GOP caucuses; in addition, it also seems to mark the end of any attempt by Iowa to legally force New Hampshire to move its primary back to Tuesday 8 February 2000.
There are those who claim that the conflict between Iowa and New Hampshire over New Hampshire having moved its primary to within one day of Iowa's caucuses involve nothing more than petty Democratic Party politics: Governor Vilsack's wife is a friend of Tipper Gore's and it is generally conceded that Vilsack will surely support Al Gore on the floor of the Convention he will be attending as a PLEO; New Hampshire's Governor Jeanne Shaheen's husband is the director of Gore's New Hampshire campaign. The value of Iowa's caucuses to the pre-Convention delegate selection process has traditionally been that they provide a challenger with an opportunity to upset a challenger and then ride a week of momentum and media hype to a possible upset victory in New Hampshire- but with the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary only a day apart, such momentum for a challenger would be lacking: it seems to many to be quite interesting that New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (a Jeanne Shaheen appointee) unilaterally moved the primary up a week after which the Iowa Governor made such a big stink- especially at a time when Gore's challenger Bill Bradley was becoming "hot" in polls among Democrats in both states: and, should the uncertainty over the Iowa date mess up the planning of more than a few Republican presidential contenders at the same time, so much the better! Yet, in the end, Iowa state law requires the Iowa caucuses to be eight days before New Hampshire's primary in any event and, with the New Hampshire General Court (its legislature) having now ratified the new primary date, Tom Vilsack might very well be simply bowing to the inevitable required by the laws of his own state."