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People react after the House is called in favor of Democrats during the Nevada Democratic Party election night event at Caesar Palace in Las Vegas on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent)

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

Good morning, and welcome to this installment of Indy 2020, a biweekly newsletter focused on the 2020 presidential election in Nevada. Apologies for the one day delay, but hope you all enjoyed the Labor Day weekend, purged all of the white from your wardrobe and are now ready for the presidential campaigns to officially kick off. 

Oh, wait, you mean to tell me it’s not just kicking off…? Oh.

As always, a reminder to tell your friends about this newsletter. Tell your fellow Trekkies. Tell your fellow… Star Wars fans? (There really should be a better name for this.) Subscribe here. It’ll be peachy.

Once again, labor was the focus of yet another round of candidate visits to Nevada, and not just because of Labor Day. (In fact, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker was the only candidate here over the weekend.) I will note that every edition of this newsletter has started off talking about a recent labor forum in Las Vegas where presidential candidates appeared: AFSCME, Painters and now the Nevada AFL-CIO, which had five candidates speak at its convention last week. Yes, as I noted in the last newsletter, #LaborMatters.

Please reach out to me with any tips, story ideas, comments, suggestions, or your favorite Star Trek episode at [email protected]. (You will be judged based on which series you choose.)

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


A swift end to tele-caucusing: The biggest news last week was the Democratic National Committee’s recommendation to reject the Nevada State Democratic Party’s proposal to allow tele-caucusing over security concerns. This came following a Bloomberg report that security officials had hacked into a conference call between the DNC and state parties in Nevada and Iowa. They didn’t — the security experts actually found a vulnerability on the website of a prospective vendor, as CBS News reported — but the DNC still determined that there is no tele-caucus system that is “sufficiently secure and reliable” to carry out the caucuses in Nevada and Iowa.

Party officials here chafed at the DNC’s decision to reject the plan now, six months after Nevada Democrats first made public the details of their delegate selection plan. In a statement released after the announcement, the party emphasized that its decision to even propose a virtual caucus in the first place was directly in response to a DNC rule requiring absentee voting. 

In general, Nevada Democrats have tried to be ahead of the curve on ensuring an inclusive caucus. They’re allowing early caucusing this go around, printing presidential preference cards in Tagalog and continuing to offer voting at at-large precincts on the Strip to make participation easier for casino workers.

Nevada’s overall delegate selection plan is still expected to be approved with its early caucusing proposal satisfying the absentee requirement, and Iowa will likely be granted a waiver, a Democratic official told The Nevada Independent. You can read more about what happened here.

Staffing on up: I spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of weeks trying to track down just how big presidential campaign staffs here have gotten, including talking to nearly two dozen Democratic strategists, progressive organizers and labor leaders. The conclusion? Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s team is the biggest, though Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ is also large; California Sen. Kamala Harris made some of the smartest hires; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro have staffs that are punching above their weight, despite their smaller sizes; and former Vice President Joe Biden’s team has seemed more of a scarce presence.

All of that and more — including Team Biden’s rebuttal — here.

Castro calls Trump a ‘spoiled child president’ who ‘acts like a dictator’: I sat down with the former Housing and Urban Development secretary last week while he was in town. In addition to criticizing the president over reports he offered pardons to build his long promised border wall, Castro expressed surprise over Las Vegas’s continued participation in the 287(g) program, committed to no funding for Yucca Mountain and more.

Another appeal to labor: As I mentioned up top, five candidates were in town for the Nevada AFL-CIO Convention last week: Harris, Booker, Castro, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The candidates’ addresses were closed press, but I obtained audio and transcripts and pieced together this story with some help from my colleague Jacob Solis. In one of the more memorable highlights, several of the candidates committed to appointing a labor leader as their labor secretary. (Harris, who received that question at the AFSCME forum last month and said then only that she would consult labor leaders in making her decision, committed to “absolutely” appoint a labor leader as labor secretary.)

Booker back in town: The New Jersey senator was the only Democratic presidential hopeful to spend part of his Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas, and it was his second trip to the state in the span of a week. (I will note that his mom lives in Las Vegas and he has a habit of spending his holidays here, including Easter weekend and the Fourth of July.) My colleague Jacob Solis followed him around as he went around with union workers to talk to McDonald’s employees about unionizing — and even got kicked out of the first restaurant they went to — and later attended a Labor Day barbecue hosted by Rep. Steven Horsford, who has not yet endorsed in the presidential race. More on Booker’s Labor Day swing here.

Warren and Harris state PACs: My eagle-eyed colleague Riley Snyder caught that Warren’s and Harris’s campaigns have registered state-level PACs with the secretary of state’s office here. Both campaigns tell me that doing so is a state compliance issue.

Station Casinos kerfuffle: After I noted in the last newsletter the overtures presidential contenders have been making to the Culinary Union in their long standing fight with Station Casinos, CBS News’ Alexander Tin reported that two of Warren’s advance staff members crossed the picket line and stayed at the Palms, a Station Casinos property, in May and June and that one of Station Casinos’ board members, Dr. James Nave, donated $5,600 to Biden’s campaign.

For her part, Warren has described the move as a “mistake” and said it “won’t happen again.” A Biden spokesman told CBS that the campaign is “proud of all the contributions” it has received in the state, despite a call from the union that Democrats return donations from Station Casinos executives.


Staffing changes

  • Billionaire Tom Steyer announced that he is bringing on Jocelyn Sida as his state director. Sida previously worked with, was deputy campaign manager for Amy Vilela’s congressional campaign and was state director for Mi Familia Vota.
  • Warren’s team has brought on Veronica Yoo as press secretary. She comes to the campaign from New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall’s office. 

Early endorsements

  • State Sen. Melanie Scheible has endorsed Harris for president, bringing the total of current elected officials who have endorsed Harris’s campaign in Nevada to six. Her campaign touts the total as “the most out of any Democratic presidential candidates,” which is true — Biden technically only has five — but doesn’t take into account the former vice president’s endorsements from two former members of Congress, Shelley Berkley and Jim Bilbray. (Harris also has four state lawmakers while Biden has five.)
  • Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has again endorsed Sanders for president after being one of Sanders’ earliest supporters in 2016. The former state senator told me in an interview in late July “my heart is with Bernie” and that “to abandon him at this point would be really difficult for me,” but noted that he has hosted other candidates at his house, including Warren. Sanders also was endorsed by 13 “activists and community leaders,” which isn’t noteworthy in of itself but interestingly includes several members of the local tribal community, as well as the home care worker I profiled over the summer, George Allen.

Upcoming visits

  • Self-help author Marianne Williamson is back in Nevada this week. She spoke to the North Las Vegas Democrats on Tuesday night and has plans to recruit Democrat voters at UNLV and speak at the Las Vegas Enlightenment Center on Wednesday.
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg will participate in a virtual meet and greet with the Rural Nevada Democratic Caucus on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. (Several other presidential hopefuls have participated in similar events.)
  • Biden is still slated to return to Nevada on Sept. 27.
  • More than a dozen candidates are slated to speak at the Giffords and March for Our Lives gun safety forum on Oct. 2, one day after the two-year anniversary of the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas.
  • Castro is the first confirmed attendee of the People’s Forum on Oct. 26 at the East Las Vegas Community Center. The forum — which will be hosted by a number of progressive organizations including the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), Battle Born Progress and the Culinary Union, among others — will hone in on a number of issues including tribal sovereignty, mining, mass incarceration, immigration and more. PLAN Executive Director Laura Martin told me that four candidates who have demonstrated their commitment to Nevada through staffing, offices, and engagement with local progressive groups have been invited. (“We don’t have the energy of our friends at AFSCME,” she told me, referring to the labor forum last month in Las Vegas attended by 19 candidates.)
  • As always, be sure to keep your eye on our 2020 Candidate Tracker.


Only in Nevada: Local business owner and former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer is running in Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, joining a handful of Republicans looking to unseat freshman Democrat Susie Lee. Rodimer ran for state Senate last cycle, narrowly losing the Republican primary in District 8 by 1 percentage point to former Assemblywoman Valerie Weber. My colleague Jacob Solis has more.

State party chair seeks commission seat: Assemblyman Will McCurdy, who chairs the Nevada State Democratic Party, has announced that he’s running for Clark County Commission. He’s looking to replace Lawrence Weekly, who will be termed out of his seat in District D in 2020. Michelle Rindels has the story.


A new LGBTQ group is playing in Nevada this cycle (The Nevada Independent)

Nevada education advocates ‘underwhelmed’ by 2020 hopefuls’ plans (Reno Gazette-Journal)

Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis stumps for Biden (Las Vegas Sun and Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Kimberly Guilfoyle hosts a ‘bachelorette party’ for Trump (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

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