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A framed collection of political buttons hang on the wall at the NV Dems office on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (Jeff Scheid/The Nevada Independent)

Your Nevada 2020 election newsletter. Please read, forward and subscribe.

Good morning, and welcome to Indy 2020, a biweekly newsletter focused on the 2020 presidential election in Nevada. A reminder that email subscribers get early access to this newsletter, so be sure to subscribe and tell your friends. It’ll be peachy.

Merry Christmas Eve and happy Hanukkah! Going to keep this introduction short because I know you’re probably traveling or wrapping presents or, if you don’t celebrate, hopefully enjoying a bit of peace and solitude.

Some brief, unimportant thoughts that won’t spoil anything for you: Babu Frik is good. D-0 is extremely relatable. Zorii wasn’t given enough screen time. And I actually liked Episode IX?

As always, a reminder to reach out to me with any tips, story ideas, comments, suggestions and your thoughts on the Star War at [email protected].

Without further ado, a download of the recent 2020 happenings in Nevada.


The ad wars begin (continue?): South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went up on television with his first statewide ad last week, a 30-second spot serves to introduce him to voters in the Silver State. I originally thought this made Buttigieg the first of the top four highest polling candidates to go up on the air in Nevada, but turns out former Vice President Joe Biden quietly went up with a two-day buy in October in the four early states.

Buttigieg is also out with his first Spanish radio and digital ads in Nevada, talking about the first day after Donald Trump’s presidency.

The same day, Biden released his second TV ad in Nevada last week, a minute-long spot called the “Soul of America” that contrasts the former vice president with Trump.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker also went up on Thursday with his first television ad, which ran in Nevada and other markets across the nation during the Democratic debate.

And on Monday, billionaire Tom Steyer released his first Spanish language ad in Nevada, which will run in Las Vegas and Reno. The 30-second ad, called "Poder Económico," focuses on the 2008 financial crisis and touts the work that Steyer and his wife Kat undertook to found a nonprofit community bank as putting power back in the hands of the people.

Mayor Pete courts voters of color: Buttigieg is doing well in Iowa. And New Hampshire. The only problem? Those states are white. Really white. And Buttigieg has faced a lot of skepticism about his ability to appeal to voters of color.

Enter Nevada, the most diverse early voting state. Buttigieg spent much of his recent trip to Las Vegas courting the state’s voters of color, attending a Latino community leaders roundtable, an AAPI town hall and what was billed as a “black empowerment conversation.” But it was far from smooth sailing for the mayor, who faced significant skepticism at that meeting with black community leaders.

“I worry about your record, and how I can trust you as a voter because I vote with my life,” attendee Alexis Taylor told Buttigieg. “If I’m giving you my vote, it’s because my life is now in your hands, quite literally. How are you going to accomplish these things if you do not support getting money out of politics?”

My colleague Jacob Solis was there and has all the details.

Postmortem on the Culinary visits: We talked a little bit in last week’s newsletter about the relatively tepid reception that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren received during a visit to the Culinary Union. Her town hall with the union was followed by two others with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Biden, who received much warmer receptions. (It’s not necessarily that union members didn’t like her — they still may not know her yet.)

Both Warren and Sanders had to contend with the Medicare-for-all question, but they handled it very differently. Warren argued that the way that union members experience their health care won’t change under Medicare-for-all, only the funding mechanism will change. The “1 percent” and big corporations will pay for it, she said. Sanders was more direct, arguing that switching to Medicare-for-all would add $12,000 to their paychecks. Biden, meanwhile, had to address the Cadillac tax, a portion of the Affordable Care Act the union has long hated. He said he was “confident” Senate Republicans would repeal it even before he got into office.

I covered Sanders’ and Biden’s visits and then stepped back to take a look at the three events as a whole.

Bernie + AOC: Sanders returned to Las Vegas on Saturday to host a rally with New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at Chaparral High School. In her introduction of the Vermont senator, Ocasio-Cortez talked about the so-called “radical” ideas that she and Sanders have.

"I'm happy to be a dangerous woman,” she said. “We should all be dangerous.”

While in town, Ocasio-Cortez also keynoted a Spanish language town hall at the Parkdale Recreation Center in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Cory returns for a two-day swing: Booker, during a two-day swing out to the state last week, hosted a “Conversation with Cory” event at Cheyenne High School, and helped kick off the state’s launch of “AAPIs for Cory” by attending a “Boba with Booker” and their first Tagalog caucus training. He also attended a roundtable discussion hosted by Mi Familia Vota and attended a community service event with Three Square Food Bank. The visit marked his tenth to the state this year.

Deval in Nevada: Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick returned to Las Vegas last week after making his debut campaign appearance at the First-In-The-West event last month. He made stops at Gritz Cafe and Expertise Cosmetology Institute, before touring Vegas Roots Community Garden.

SEIU straw poll: Sanders is leading in a new straw poll of SEIU Local 1107 members who are registered Democrats in Nevada with 33 percent support. Warren is at 20 percent; Biden at 17 percent; tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang, Booker and Steyer at 7 percent each; Buttigieg is at 6 percent; and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro are at 2 percent each. (Biden and Warren were neck-and-neck in the last straw poll from August.)

SEIU Local 1107 represents about 19,000 workers in the health care and public sectors across the state.


The Indy is co-hosting the February Dem debate: In case you missed the big news for our little three-year-old nonprofit, The Nevada Independent will be co-hosting, with NBC/MSNBC, the Feb. 19 Democratic debate in Nevada. Details here.

Indian County positions itself for 2020: Native leaders are preparing to make a stand in the 2020 election — starting with Nevada’s Democratic presidential caucus in February. Their message to presidential hopefuls is simple: The Native vote matters too. In this deep dive, I explored what Native organizers are doing to position themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Booker on the pod: Booker, while in town last week, sat down with me on the IndyMatters podcast. We talked about the influence of money on who qualifies for the debate stage, impeachment, mining, sex work and more.

Sisolak won’t endorse before caucus: Gov. Steve Sisolak, in a wide-ranging interview, told my colleagues Riley Snyder and Michelle Rindels that he has no plans to endorse before the state’s Democratic presidential caucus in February.

“I told them the important thing is really not my endorsement,” he said. “It’s the Culinary worker in the back of the house at the Mirage, or the guy working on the expansion of the convention center. Those are the endorsements that are going to really matter, the working men and women and you know, I don’t think my endorsement is as important as theirs, quite frankly.”

Warren slams Bloomberg: Warren, at event in Northern Nevada two weeks ago, accused former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire, of trying to “buy the election” and said that he was attempting to “skip the democracy part” of elections by relying on massive amounts of advertising.


New endorsements

  • Assemblywoman Selena Torres endorsed Castro for president. She’s picking Booker as her second choice in case of realignment. (In Nevada’s caucus process, voters are given a chance to realign their preference in support of another candidate if their first-choice candidate doesn’t receive enough votes to be considered “viable” in the caucus.)
  • Castro was endorsed by West Wendover City Councilmember Kathy Durham.
  • Booker was endorsed by North Las Vegas City Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown.
  • Yerington Paiute Tribe Chairman Laurie Thom endorsed Sanders for president last week. She will serve as one of his Nevada campaign co-chairs.
  • Former state Sen. Patricia Farley endorsed Buttigieg for president. (He also received the backing of a dozen Nevada veterans and military family members.)
  • The Stonewall Democratic Club and the Clark County Left Caucus endorsed Sanders for president.
  • For the latest on presidential endorsements, check out our tracker.

Upcoming candidate visits

  • Steyer will attend a meet and greet with local business leaders at an event hosted by ArtKore Print Group, a Latino-owned union print shop in Las Vegas, on Friday.
  • Booker will return to the Silver State on Monday for yet-to-be-announced events in Reno.
  • For the latest on presidential candidate visits, check out our visit tracker.

Surrogate stops

  • Biden senior adviser Symone Sanders hosted a trivia event and young professionals happy hour at Classic Jewel in Las Vegas on Dec. 12.
  • Sanders’ national surrogates Amy Vilela, Dr. Victoria Dooley, Rabyaah Althaibani and Helen Hong attended a “Women for Bernie” panel at the Culinary Academy of Las Vegas on Dec. 14 as part of a “Women for Bernie Weekend of Organizing” in Nevada and California.
  • Jill Biden, the wife of the former vice president, was in Nevada on Dec. 20 and 21. She attended two “Women for Biden” community events in Reno and Las Vegas (the latter event was attended by Rep. Dina Titus, who has endorsed Biden) and toured a veterans guest house with Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall.
  • John Bessler, Klobuchar's husband, was in Las Vegas on Dec. 21 and 22. He met with supporters, toured a Nevada Health Centers site, dropped off toys for kids at the 19th Annual Feeding Families philanthropic drive, talked to local women candidates running for municipal court and met with community leaders in Henderson.

Other election news

  • Booker filed his paperwork in person last week to participate in Nevada’s Democratic presidential caucus.
  • Booker recently launched the campaign’s bilingual caucus training program in Nevada and hosted its first “Caucus por Cory” training at the East Las Vegas Library on Dec. 14.
  • The Nevada State Democratic Party has continued to hold Spanish-language caucus trainings, most recently on Dec. 10 and 11.
  • Trump Victory hostd a “Stop the Madness” event at the Whitney Public Library in Las Vegas on Dec. 14 ahead of the House’s impeachment vote.
  • Steyer’s campaign held a weekend of action on Dec. 13 and 15 in Nevada and the other three early states. In Nevada, the team held 25 phone banking and 29 canvassing events during which they knocked on 5,000 doors and made 12,000 calls.
  • Castro tweeted out the news of the deadliest residential fire in Las Vegas history, which broke out early Saturday morning, and called for access to safe housing. 


Senate Dems snub Assembly members for former state party chair: The Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus announced last week that it is endorsing former state party Chairwoman Roberta Lange in the election to replace termed-out state Sen. David Parks — and not Ellen Spiegel or Richard Carrillo, two Assembly members running for the seat. My colleague Riley Snyder has more.


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