D.C. May Move Up Presidential Primary

The District of Columbia is planning to hold the first primary in the nation next year, annoying New Hampshire's political circles, but not enough to make them change their primary date.

D.C. Councilman Jack Evans has introduced legislation that would move Washington, D.C.'s presidential primary to Jan. 10, 2004, bumping it to the top of the year, and possibly the front of the line before New Hampshire, which, since 1920, has been the state to hold the first presidential primary.

New Hampshire law requires the secretary of state to set the primary at least seven days before any other state.

But New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner said that D.C. is not a state and therefore he won't try to alter the date. However, several states have yet to schedule their primary elections — particularly South Carolina, which usually follows New Hampshire. Depending on when South Carolina schedules its primary, New Hampshire could still end up in front of Washington, D.C., Gardner said.

Washington, D.C., usually schedules its primary late in the year. The 2002 primary was held in September. The full Council, Mayor Anthony Williams and D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton have all said they would support the move.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.