Nevada may switch from caucus to primary

The days of herding relative strangers into Nevada high school gyms for an all-day democracy exercise peppered with puzzling math equations that somehow make or break political futures may soon be at an end.

At least, they will be if the state’s power brokers get their way. And they often do.

“My No. 1 priority is getting rid of the caucuses,” said Harry Reid, former U.S. Senate majority leader and still very much the face of Nevada Democrats. “They don’t work. It was proven in Iowa. We did OK here, but the system is so unfair.”

Technical difficulties derailed Iowa’s Democratic caucuses last year, leading to Nevada’s move away from similar technology that would help hundreds of sites feed numbers used in “caucus math” — a system joyously explained by political organizers and understood by sheer dozens of Nevadans as the way the state awards delegates for state and national party conventions.

Though Nevada’s party avoided similar pitfalls, Reid and a growing coalition believe a presidential primary would allow far more voters to participate and seems to be the anecdotal will of the people.

Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson will soon carry a bill to kill the caucuses. The legislation wouldn’t need bipartisan support with Democrats in the firm majority, but it may get some anyway, as Republicans contacted by the Review-Journal were open to the idea.

But Frierson also plans to join Reid and other state Democrats in advancing a far more politically challenging notion: That Nevada should be the first state in the nation to weigh in on presidential candidates.

“We’re one of the most diverse states in the country, and it would behoove a candidate to come and make their pitch to voters here,” Frierson said. “The political influence is moving west, and Nevada is seen as a very good gauge of where the country is at.”

The end of the caucuses

The move away from caucuses is not a surprise, as elected officials including Gov. Steve Sisolak called for its demise in the days that followed the Feb. 22 statewide contests.

Nevada State Democratic Party Executive Director Alana Mounce said she was proud of the work her staff and organizers did to run a successful caucus in trying times last year, but it’s ready to move on.

“We know moving forward it’s time to move to a primary process, and time to have Nevada be the first early state in 2024,” Mounce said.

Although the state party has built up considerable organizing muscle in part due to the hands-on nature of caucuses, Mounce said the end of caucuses will shed a considerable financial and time-consuming weight that will allow for more focus on registering new voters and recruiting volunteers.

Democrats preparing campaign

With a new Democratic National Committee led by Jaime Harrison, a former Senate candidate and South Carolina Democratic Party chair, and Iowa’s pitfalls just a year in the rearview, Nevada is preparing to make a play.

“There are a lot of changing names and faces at DNC, and what you’re seeing, possibly, is the development of a campaign to make the argument for Nevada to be No. 1, which I’m ecstatic for,” said Alex Goff, one of two DNC members elected by the state party.

“I grew up in Mississippi,” Goff continued. “I joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served across the country and in other countries before moving here. There are so many people here with those stories. Their jobs brought them here, and they became Nevadans. You get a nice cross-section of the country.”

Nevada’s growing, diverse population and bellwether status in the West — a region where Democrats have grown in strength as the Midwest has grown more unpredictable — will be two major platforms for the campaign to stand on. The state also boasts a large union population and a mix of college and non-college educated voters.

But Goff also noted Nevada’s logistical strength for campaigns: Two urban centers holding about 85 percent of the population, situated in large media markets with easy travel between them.

Mounce believes the strength and organization of her party will appeal to a Harrison-led DNC due to his time leading South Carolina’s party.

Allison Stephens, the state’s other DNC member, said she too will “do everything I possibly can” for Nevada to be first on the calendar, but she cautioned against pushing the national party too hard.

“We don’t want to compromise our position as No. 3 in the nation,” Stephens said. “We can not fall below third. If changing to a primary would jeopardize our early state status, I would be concerned. We do have to work within the parameters of the party.”

National implications

The DNC will continue to review the previous cycle for at least another two months before discussing any possible changes to the nominating calendar.

“Every four years, the DNC looks back at what worked and what didn’t work, and the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will continue to evaluate all areas of our nominating process and make recommendations for any changes,” spokesman David Bergstein said.

This review is expected to complete on March 31, at which point the DNC as a whole will take up the conversation.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said it was “too soon” to discuss the nominating calendar when asked during her daily briefing.

“We are certainly not focused on the next political campaign here quite yet, and we don’t have any point of view to share on the order of the presidential nominating contests, though Nevada’s a little warmer,” she said. “But you know, all great states.”

Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that nominate before Nevada, are mounting their own campaigns to stay put, and other states are likely to make their own pushes to move up.

Frierson is sensitive to this.

“We will have to work through (the bill’s) language and work with the national parties — both Democrats and Republicans — and convince them of Nevada’s importance in the West,” he said.

Frierson noted the Legislature has no control over other states, which could simply move their own nomination dates further ahead absent a national calendar agreement. New Hampshire, for example, already has a state law declaring it must hold the first presidential primary election.

He said he is also working with local election officials on a cost estimate for the state, which would assume the cost burden currently borne by the state parties in the caucus system.

The typical Nevada primary, held in June for local and statewide offices, would remain, Frierson said. The new primary would only be used for selecting presidential candidates.

Republicans will wait and see

Eric Roberts, executive director of the Assembly Republican Caucus, said the demise of the caucuses could garner mixed support from his party.

“My gut feeling without talking to anyone about it is that the more conservative Republicans may want to keep (the caucuses), and the more moderates may want to go to a primary,” he said.

Roberts noted the Republican-controlled 2015 Legislature attempted a similar change, but the bill died.

Unlike 2020, Republicans will have a competitive presidential nominating process in 2024, and some state leaders have adapted a wait and see approach as the empowered Democrats look to change state law.

State Sen. James Settelmeyer, the Republican minority leader, said he supports the change from caucuses to a primary, but he’d like to see the presidential nomination combined with Nevada’s traditional June primary, which would also keep costs the same.

“I don’t think states should vote early,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of only a small percentage of the nation or a few states determining the leader of the free world.”

Settelmeyer said he carried a bill to switch to a primary in the past. Bipartisan support is possible, as long as Democrats are willing to discuss the changes and work through committees.

“I think the concept of trying to do something to increase voter participation is very appealing, and I believe we need to do that,” Settelmeyer said.

The senator also said he believes that bipartisan support from the Legislature would help the state make a case to the national parties.

“I would hope (the parties) would respect legislators in this state,” he said. “If all of our Republicans voter in favor of this, that would carry weight. But if all of us rejected it, that would also mean something.”

Nevada Republican Party Chair Michael McDonald said he personally likes the caucus system, as it spurs engagement within the party, but he is willing to adapt if Nevadans prefer a primary.

McDonald said his party’s caucus went so poorly in 2012 that it nearly lost its First in the West status on the Republican nominating calendar, but the system saw success in 2016.

“If they’re run right, they’re great,” McDonald said. “But they can also be a disaster.”

McDonald, also one of the state’s Republican National Committee members and a lifelong Nevadan, said he supports Nevada being moved up in the calendar, but it must be done with cooperation from the national parties and other states.

“I think anyone from here would want us to be first,” he said, “but you have to have respect for the party and your fellow states in order to get respect back.”

Source: Nevada may switch from caucus to primary

State Republican Parties Stand as Firewall for Trump In Fight Over Future of GOP

Then-President Donald Trump returns to the White House in Washington on March 25, 2018. (Samira Bouaou/The Epoch Times)

State and county Republican Party committees have rushed to former President Donald Trump’s defense in the face of his upcoming impeachment trial, highlighting the former president’s popularity and power within the GOP.

The House voted to impeach Trump earlier this month on the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection,” with Democrats claiming he incited violence at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Trump called on the protesters not to engage in violent acts before the protest and later told them to “go home in peace.”

Forty-five Republican senators voted several days ago against holding an impeachment trial, arguing it would be unconstitutional to impeach a former president, sending a signal that there are not enough votes to convict Trump, with a conviction requiring a two-thirds majority.

Protesters clash with police at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Julio Cortez/AP Photo)

At the same time, in both swing states and Republican bastions, state and local GOP committees, which are stocked with Trump supporters who remain loyal, members have moved to punish Republicans who have called for Trump’s impeachment.

On Saturday, the South Carolina Republican Party will decide whether to censure Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) for his vote to impeach Trump. Rice was among 10 Republicans who joined Democrats to impeach Trump over the Capitol riot.

Republican Party chairwoman Dreama Perdue, GOP chairwoman in Rice’s home Horry County, said the move is meant as a rebuke for what many of his constituents consider an act of betrayal.

The effect amounts to a firewall protecting Trump and his politics from Republicans who want to cut ties with the former president.

In Washington state, several county party committees have called for the removal of the two House members who voted for Trump’s impeachment. Primary challengers have begun lining up to take on all 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach the former president.

Arizona Republican Party Chairwoman Kelli Ward, a staunch Trump ally, was reelected on Jan. 22, fending off several challengers for the role, after the former president endorsed her for another two-year term. In a short call last week, Trump called on Arizonans to reelect Ward, saying that he gives her his “complete and total endorsement,” due to her stances on a number of issues.

“She is a terrific person. She is a person I know. You’ll never find anybody as dedicated to every aspect we’re all dedicated to,” Trump said, in his first post-White House endorsement.

kelli ward
Then-Arizona GOP Senate candidate Kelli Ward concedes the primary in a speech to supporters at an election night event in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Aug. 28, 2018. (Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Trump’s hold on state parties reflects the ex-president’s continued popularity with the base and the loyalty he has gained in the typically obscure local GOP apparatus.

Trump brought in millions of new voters to the party with his populist approach. And Republicans should welcome those voters’ decision to stay involved, even when Trump is not on the ballot, argued Constantin Querard, a conservative Republican strategist in Arizona.

“Without Trump, some of them will go home, but some of them will stick around forever,” he said.

And since many of the former president’s loyalists have been elected to posts with multi-year terms and positioned to keep rising, Trump’s influence on the party structure isn’t likely to wane soon.

Source: State Republican Parties Stand as Firewall for Trump In Fight Over Future of GOP

GOP campaigns, voter file lawsuit alleging improper votes in Nevada

GOP campaigns, voter file lawsuit alleging improper votes in Nevada

The original article on LV Review-Journal is currently being blocked from sharing on Facebook.  

Two Republican congressional campaigns and a Nevada voter filed a federal lawsuit Thursday night against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria, asking the court to stop the use of Clark County’s electronic mail ballot counting machine and making a variety of fraud accusations.

Although President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Nevada Republican Party are not listed as plaintiffs, they held a news conference Thursday morning promising the lawsuit, an event that featured the named plaintiff, Las Vegas resident Jill Stokke.

The campaigns of Dan Rodimer and Jim Marchant, who are challenging Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, respectively, are two of the other listed plaintiffs.

Their lawsuit alleged “3,000 instances of ineligible individuals casting ballots” in Clark County, including ballots from deceased voters. It offered no evidence of that or any other allegations, and there are no attached exhibits to the filing.

It also does not note whether the cast ballots have, in fact, made it through the county’s ongoing verification process.

A separate letter sent to the Department of Justice on Wednesday by the Nevada Republican Party alleged to have identified 3,062 individuals who cast a ballot in Nevada while living in another state. It includes an attachment that lists only addresses of the allegedly ineligible voters but not names or any other identifying information. The Review-Journal has requested the names but has not yet received them.

There are a variety of reasons why a person residing out of the state may be allowed to cast a ballot in Nevada, including part-time residents of the state with homes elsewhere, attending college in another state, or people who have recently moved.

Complaint about machines

The lawsuit alleged the Agilis software used by Clark County as the initial step in signature verification of mail ballots violates state election law because other counties do not use the same method, which means Clark residents are “at an unequal risk of having their legal votes diluted by votes with mismatched signatures.”

Stokke, the lawsuit said, was stopped from voting in person after an election official told her a mail ballot had been submitted in her name. The filing alleged the Agilis machine verified this signature and allowed it to be counted.

In a news conference after the Trump campaign’s event, Gloria said he handled Stokke’s case personally.

“I personally dealt with Ms. Stokke,” Gloria said. “She brought her claim to me, we reviewed the ballot, and, in our opinion, it’s her signature. We also gave her an opportunity to provide a statement, if she wanted to object to that if she wanted to challenge that. She refused to do so.”

Gloria said an investigator with the Nevada secretary of state’s office also reviewed the matter.

“They had no issue with the assistance we tried to give her,” Gloria said.

Gloria said he was not aware of any illegal votes being counted.

The machine in question, county officials have said repeatedly, is only the first step in the signature verification process. If it rejects a signature, as it does 70 percent of the time, that ballot goes to county staff for verification, with Gloria having the final say.

The lawsuit also falsely asserts that the county is the only one in Nevada that does not verify signatures on absentee and mail ballots in person.

Problems with observation

It also alleged that another plaintiff, Chris Prudhome, listed on the lawsuit as a “credentialed member of the media” but on his Twitter account as a Republican strategist and Fox News guest commentator, was denied his right to observe the counting of ballots.

The lawsuit said that Prudhome attempted to watch the count at 12:45 a.m. on Wednesday, and he was told by Gloria the counting had already completed for that day.

This lawsuit is the fourth filed against either Clark County or both Clark and the state by Republican campaigns and the second seeking some sort of change to the counting or verification of mail ballots, which have trended heavily for Democrats.

As of Thursday morning, Trump trails Biden by about 11,400 votes in Nevada. Another round of vote tabulations is expected to be released Friday morning.

News conference

Trump’s campaign repeated many of the allegations made in the lawsuit at its news conference Thursday morning.

“We firmly believe that there are many voters in this group of mail-in voters that are not proper voters,” Adam Laxalt, former Nevada attorney general and co-chair of President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign in Nevada said at the Trump news conference outside the Clark County Election Department vote center in North Las Vegas. “We have received reports of many irregularities across the valley.”

Two Trump representatives spoke but refused to give their names as they alleged that illegal voting had unfolded.

One was former acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, who declined to offer specifics when asked for evidence of the campaign’s allegations.

The other was Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Stokke also spoke

In response to the Republican news conference, Nevada State Democratic Party Chairman William McCurdy II said Trump’s campaign has “no other recourse than scare tactics and baseless suits.”

“Republicans want to circumvent democracy because things aren’t going in their favor,” McCurdy said. “But the will of the people will not be ignored.”

Settlement in a prior lawsuit

The Trump campaign and Nevada Republican Party agreed to a settlement with the state and Clark County on a previous lawsuit that similarly tried to stop vote counting in the county.

That attempt was shut down in court, but the lawsuit was still technically active.

The campaign filed a motion with the State Supreme Court on Thursday that said Gloria had agreed to allow more observation of the county’s ballot duplication area in exchange for dismissal of the case. Ballot duplication occurs when a staff member finds something wrong with a voter’s physical ballot, which is then duplicated onto a blank ballot and counted.

   Stokke v Cegavske by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

   Barr DOJ and legal brief by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

   Nevada Moved Voters by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter. Review-Journal Staff Writer Glenn Puit contributed to this story.

Source: GOP campaigns, voter file lawsuit alleging improper votes in Nevada

McDonald wins fifth term as Nevada GOP chairman

Donald Trump hats and other items on offer at the Nevada Republican state central committee meeting in WInnemucca on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mesquite City Councilwoman Annie Black, who unsuccessfully challenged incumbent state GOP chairman Michael McDonald for the post, speaks to a party delegate at the state party central committee meeting in Winnemucca on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Nevada state GOP chairman Michael McDonald speaks to party delegates standing on line to vote f ...
Nevada state GOP chairman Michael McDonald speaks to party delegates standing on line to vote for party posts at the Republican state party central committee meeting in Winnemucca on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

WINNEMUCCA – Nevada Republican Party officials, seeking to put 2018 state losses behind them and set a glide path for nominating President Donald Trump for a second term in 2020, re-elected their incumbent chairman and other party leaders Saturday and formally took the party out of holding a presidential caucus to choose its candidate in February.

The Silver State’s GOP thus becomes the latest state party to all but formally endorse the sitting president more than a year before the election, though central committee members stopped short of nominating him outright. That vote, per Republican national committee rules, won’t happen until February, state leaders said Saturday.

But by opting against a caucus, a move favored by the Trump campaign in Nevada and elsewhere, state Republicans do avoid a contest that could sow division and would cost the party money, but whose outcome would not be much in doubt.

Republicans in South Carolina and Kansas voted to forgo their states’ primaries earlier Saturday, and Arizona Republicans were expected to follow suit as well.

“We have an incredible incumbent who’s very strong,” Douglas County’s Amy Tarkanian told fellow delegates as party faithful debated the move. “And I think it would be a slap in his face if we did not pass this.”

The measure was approved on a show of raised hands. Those who spoke against it said skipping the presidential caucus would sharply curtail participation and enthusiasm for other caucus contests, which will continue as normal.

“It is not only about money. It’s also about the individual’s right to go to the (caucus) and cast a vote,” said Clark County delegate Mary Beganyi. “You want to elect Republicans? Engage Republicans.”

Meeting Saturday in Winnemucca, the county seat of strongly-Republican Humboldt County in Northern Nevada, far from Democratic strongholds in the south, party officials also backed the full slate of incumbent leaders, all Trump stalwarts who enjoy the similar backing of the president.

Chairman Michael McDonald, who has served since 2012, easily won a three-way race with 57 percent of the vote, or 205 out of 362 votes cast, beating back opponents who sought to blame him for the party’s losses in 2016 and 2018.

Trump lost the state in 2016, and Republicans suffered steep losses in 2018 up and down the ballot, including races for U.S. Senate, three of four U.S. House races, and the governor and attorney general races. Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske remains the only Republican statewide elected official.

McDonald defeated Mesquite Councilwoman Annie Black, who received 102 votes, and former Clark County GOP chairman Dave McKeon who won 54.

The caucus opt-out had the backing of the chairman and leadership.

“Caucuses are expensive,” McDonald said during a break in the meeting. He noted that county party organizations had their eyes on reversing 2018’s losses in state legislative races and wanted to “focus on and put the resources where they’re needed.”

In Nevada, Democrats hold a 73,000 active registered voter advantage over Republicans on the strength of their 165,000-voter lead in Clark County, where 71 percent of Nevada’s voters reside. Republicans have a registration advantage in the state’s other 16 counties. State active-voter registration is 38 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican, and 22 percent nonpartisan according to August figures from the secretary of state’s office.

Source: McDonald wins fifth term as Nevada GOP chairman