LAS VEGAS — Nevada is an early key state on the 2024 election calendar, but it has received far less attention than Iowa and New Hampshire.
Not this weekend.
Most Republican presidential candidates are in Las Vegas for the Annual Meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalitionwhich has taken on greater importance this year due to Israel-Hamas War. Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the party’s nomination, will follow his speech to this group with an evening appearance at a campaign organizing event where his team will try to secure the engagement of likely voters. attend the February 8 caucuses.
In his afternoon remarksTrump has not acknowledged any of his Republican rivals, including his former vice president, Mike Pence, who announced that he was withdrawing from the race. Trump instead highlighted his own record as president, boasting of “peace through strength” if he is re-elected.
With the support of the former president’s allies, Nevada will hold a primary election on February 6, as required by state law, and caucuses will be held two days later by the state party. This setup has sparked criticism within the Nevada GOP regarding the potential voter confusion and fears that the State party will be attempt to tip the scales in favor of Trump.
A state-run ballot will be mailed to every resident before the primary; Nevada law requires universal mail voting for primary and general elections. But caucus meetings hosted by the party will decide who wins Nevada’s delegate nomination. The caucuses will depend on the party apparatus and candidates’ campaigns to educate voters.
“I hate this for our voters because, of course, they’re going to be confused,” said Nevada Republican Party central committee member Will Bradley. “But I respect the fact that I’m in a minority and I’ve been outvoted. So I will do what I can to help the caucus succeed.
Trump’s Nevada state director, Alida Benson, joined his campaign in July after serving as executive director of the state party. The party’s president, Michael McDonald, was a fake voter for Trump in 2020, when the then-president’s allies attempted to appoint Republican electors to the Electoral College in states won by Democrat Joe Biden.
McDonald has long argued that caucuses prioritize grassroots support and on-the-ground campaigning. He pushed for the caucuses despite a state law requiring a presidential primary because the Democratic-controlled Legislature refused to consider Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s election proposals, including requiring identification. voters.
A caucus “gives each candidate the opportunity to perform. It’s about getting their people out,” McDonald said in an interview last month. “And my job, as well as my goal, is to introduce candidates to all of our counties.”
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and the senator from South Carolina. Tim Scott opted for the primary. Trump, governor of Florida. Ron DeSantisbusinessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former governor of New Jersey. Chris Christie and the governor of North Dakota. Doug Burgum will participate in the caucuses. Former Vice President Mike Pence announced in Las Vegas on Saturday that he was ending his candidacy.
“I know this change was designed for certain reasons, but you know what, life ain’t fair,” DeSantis said Saturday morning at an event hosted by his super ally PAC, Never Back Down, and the local republicans. “I’m going to fight wherever I need to. I do not care.”
Some developments have revealed disagreements over the organization of the caucus, which is now largely in the hands of the county’s 17 Republican parties. The Clark County GOP vice chair, who would have been responsible for organizing Las Vegas-area caucuse sites, resigned last month. Bradley and other Central Committee members in Las Vegas said they had received only one email from the Clark County GOP mentioning the caucuses in the past month.
Nearly 430 miles to the north, in rural mining Elko County, GOP Chairman Lee Hoffman is grappling with how to set up caucus sites located more than 100 miles from the center of the county’s 20,000 residents.
Elko County is home to 54,000 total residents in an area larger than Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. Nearly a third of the county’s election sites used mail-in voting in the general election, particularly in more remote areas of the county.
Every registered Republican will receive an absentee ballot for the primary thanks to the state’s universal absentee voting law. Two days later, it will be more difficult for Hoffman to brief county Republicans on the caucuses.
“All I can say is we have a lot of work to do between now and when the caucus comes to educate our Republican voters on the process, organizing it in terms of locations and so on. “Hoffman said. “It’s going to take some effort.” ___
Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a program that places journalists in local newsrooms.
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