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New Hampshire to set its primary date next week

CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner will likely end months of speculation surrounding the Republican primary season when he sets the first-in-the-nation primary date early next week.

Gardner originally signaled he would set the date today and went as far as preparing a press announcement, but ultimately decided wait until after the presidential primary filing period ends this Friday. The Secretary of State's office said Gardner wants to avoid any conflict with candidates coming into the office to file.

Gardner, who has served as secretary of state since 1976, set the 2008 primary date the day before Thanksgiving in 2007 for Jan. 8. He is widely expected to select Jan. 10 for the 2011 primary.

As of Monday night, 20 total candidates had registered to appear on the ballot and paid the 1000 dollar fee: 18 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Newt Gingrich files this afternoon; Michele Bachmann will file by mail; and Rick Perry will register noon Friday.