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As N.H. Primary Filing Period Opens, Big Names and Lesser-Knowns Cross Paths

Presidential candidates of all stripes have begun filing to get on the New Hampshire primary ballot. The 2020 filing period, a defining ritual of the presidential politics, opened Wednesday in the State House and will stretch for more than two weeks.

The first candidate to make the pilgrimage to Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s office was Mark Stewart, an SAT tutor from Connecticut. Stewart was already talking to reporters when the filing period commenced at 8 a.m. And when it came time to make things official, he used a stack of phone books to stand a bit taller as he filled out the needed paperwork. Stewart then flashed his $1,000 filing fee in a fan of $50 bills.

Credit Josh Rogers / NHPR
Mark Stewart was the first to file as a presidential candidate in New Hampshire today.

“So, Mr. Gardner and staff, this is for you," Stewart announced. "And I chose cash this time. I chose Grant this time because I’ve come to like him better than Franklin.”

State law doesn’t require candidates to file for the primary ballot in person, but most do. For candidates operating on the political fringe, filing day may be the one time they are on equal footing with more mainstream candidates. One of those - South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg - filed Wednesday as well.

“There is a very independent turn of mind here," Buttigieg told the crowd in Gardner's office. "And there's a lot of folks who see how scrambled and how troubled our politics are right now, and are looking for what it's going to take to turn the page.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is expected to file Thursday. President Trump is sending Vice President Mike Pence to the State House to file for him next week. To get on either side of the 2020 primary ballot, candidates need to file by the end of the day Friday, Nov. 15.

Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR
Pete Buttigieg held a rally outside the N.H. State House after filing to be on the 2020 Primary ballot.

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