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N.H. Primary Turns 100

josh rogers, NHPR

The Executive Council chambers were packed as N.H.'s political class came together to honor what has become one of the best known things about the state,  the presidential primary. Bill Gardner.

"This is a special day in N.H., in the old days they’d call this a red letter day."

Bill Gardner is N.H.’s Secretary of State. He came equipped with plenty of historical detail, including the biography of Democratic  Rep, Stephen Bullock, who authored law that took effect May 21st 1913.

It switched NH’s elections from a caucus system to a primary. It also mandated that party delegates be listed on a statewide ballot for election to the national convention, instead of being chosen by party leaders.  Gardner said Bullocks contributions have never been properly recognized.

"He died in 1941, nothing in his obituary about the presidential primary, because it wasn’t created to be the first in the nation, it was simply created to make him and other make the decision to decide who was going to go to the national convention."  

Governor Maggie Hassan issued a proclamation in Bullocks honor. She also said the whole country has benefited from NH’s early commitment to open elections.

"N.H.’s primary is first because we were the first to truly recognize that direct citizen involvement in the nominating process makes for better presidential candidates and better presidents."

Leaders of both political parties who spoke at teh event predicted that preserving the primary's first in the nation status NH’s will always remain a united front.

They then shared slices of a giant cake with the state of N.H. silhouetted in green frosting.   

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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