Another Perspective

The First Shall Be Last

New Hampshire, Iowa jealous of politically relevant Mississippi, Guam.

By 3.10.08

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MANCHESTER, N.H. -- To reclaim their political relevance in the Democratic presidential nomination process, voters in Iowa and New Hampshire are demanding that the results of their January presidential nominating contests be voided and the contests rescheduled for late July.

"All of a sudden people are actually paying attention to Mississippi," said Gus Guillemette of Hooksett, N.H. "And Guam. Guam! Why, they don't even have town meeting in Guam. It's just not right!"

Sara Hemmings of Dubuque, Iowa, said she deeply resented that other states, including Florida and California, failed to ratify Iowa's choice of Sen. Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee.

"We told them who to pick, and those ungrateful little people went out and chose someone else entirely, just totally messing everything up," Hemmings said. "I mean, who do they think they are?"

New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch and Iowa Gov. Chet Culver have asked the Democratic National Committee to void the results of New Hampshire's Democratic primary and Iowa's Democratic caucuses and approve new votes in late July.

"It is tradition that he voters of Iowa and New Hampshire have the great honor of thinking for everyone else in the country when it comes to deciding who should carry the banner for each party in the presidential election," the two wrote in a letter to DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "This year, however, the rest of the country has shown a frustrating and almost unprecedented tendency to think for itself. In our view, that is entirely unacceptable, and frankly, we have no idea how the rest of the nation got so uppity all of a sudden.

"We demand that the DNC protect the cherished American tradition of letting Iowa and New Hampshire voters feel more important than everyone else once every four years. We demand that the DNC void our January election results and sanction our new primary and caucuses, tentatively scheduled for the last week in July, but that could change pending the results in Pennsylvania and North Carolina."

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who scheduled his state's primary for Jan. 8, its earliest date ever, said he regretted the decision now.

"Oops," he said.

"We don't find this situation amusing at all," Gardner said, speaking of himself in the royal "we" as is his practice in presidential election years. "If Chairman Dean doesn't do what is right, I have been assured by the commissioner of safety that the chairman's drive from Vermont to Boston, whenever it occurs from now on, will no longer be as N.H. State Trooper-free as it used to be."

Fanning the flames of resentment, a new poll conducted last week showed that Pennsylvania voters have no idea which Democratic candidate won New Hampshire and which won Iowa.

The poll prompted a New Hampshire legislator to introduce a bill mandating that the state's presidential primary no longer be "first-in-the-nation," but instead be "the most relevant in the nation" and be scheduled for "the date at which it will have the most impact on the great unwashed masses that make up the non-New Hampshire portion of the American electorate."

The bill would allow the primary results to be canceled by the secretary of state and rescheduled for a later date should the first results not seal the nomination for either party within a month after being held.

Meanwhile, Iowans have threatened to stop selling corn to Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Mississippi and Guam if the three states and one territory do not ratify the results of the Iowa Democratic caucuses and vote for Sen. Obama.

"We hear China needs corn," Iowa farmer Jeff Trunkler said. "Can't have creamed corn without corn, North Carolina! You hear me?! Vote for Obama you bastards!"

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About the Author

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader. You can follow him on Twitter at @Drewhampshire.