Indy Elections: Caucus confusion in the highest ranks of the GOP
In today’s edition: Just 30 days before the party-run GOP presidential caucus (and the accompanying, nonbinding primary two days earlier), do rank-and-file Republicans know what to make of their extra election? Plus, Biden turns his campaign back to Jan. 6.
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- Nevada presidential primary: 28
- GOP presidential caucus: 30
- Election Day: 301
Some Republicans still don’t know what’s going on with their own caucus
By Tabitha Mueller
With less than a month remaining until Nevada’s Republican presidential primary and a separate Republican caucus two days later, some Nevada Republican voters are confused.
“Why is my official primary mail in [sic] ballot missing a certain DONALD J TRUMP?” a Republican voter posted on X, formerly Twitter, last week.
Conservative campaign communications strategist Courtney Holland responded by posting a message reminding voters that no one was removed from the Nevada ballot. She correctly said the state Republican Party is hosting a caucus while the state is holding a primary, and some candidates opted to participate in the state primary, while others are just in the caucus.
“Personally, I am frustrated with how confusing this all is which was why I felt compelled to try and explain things the best I can,” she wrote in a follow-up post.
As explained in this article by The Indy’s Sean Golonka, the Nevada GOP is using the results of the caucus, not the primary, to determine how the state’s presidential delegates will be awarded at the Republican nominating convention. But under a 2021 state law, the state must hold a presidential preference primary election for each major political party on the first Tuesday in February of a presidential election year if more than one candidate files to run — a path followed by several non-Trump candidates, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Rules adopted by the state party prohibit candidates who file for the primary from participating in the caucus and require a $55,000 caucus registration fee from each participating campaign.
Holland isn’t the only high-profile Nevada Republican still trying to explain the process with less than a month left.
Assemblywoman Alexis Hansen (R-Sparks), in a December opinion piece, urged voters to participate in both the presidential primary and party-run caucus, saying that even though the primary will have no sway over the GOP’s delegates, it is vital to maintain a voting record.
“If you are voting for a candidate in the caucus like I am, then mark ‘None of these Candidates’ on your primary ballot,” Hansen wrote.
Assemblywoman Danielle Gallant (R-Las Vegas) voiced exasperation over the process on X in December:
“I know we are supposed to be supportive of NV GOP Caucus Primary,” Gallant said, adding that she would have to drive 30 minutes away to participate. “I have to do this on a school night and I have 2 young kids. 😡”
Back in October, Gov. Joe Lombardo — a Republican — went a step further and called the concurrent election processes and distinct candidate options “confusing” and “unacceptable.”
As Gallant recently noted, it doesn’t matter how confused voters are about the process, because the primary and caucus will both happen barring a last-minute legal challenge, even more unlikely now that the Nevada GOP decided to drop its lawsuit seeking to block the state-run primary. Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Mark Wlaschin submitted a court affidavit last week indicating that 90 people had already voted in the state-run primary.
“How you vote for your preferred candidate has changed this year. Educate yourself! And before you complain about the change, just know that I’m sorry and agree,” Gallant wrote on X. “It sucks.”
What we’re reading and writing
Nevada GOP drops lawsuit aimed at blocking presidential primary by Jacob Solis and Gabby Birenbaum
The move all but assures (again) that we will have both a primary and a caucus.
Sen. Jacky Rosen’s speech in Las Vegas crashed by pro-Palestine protesters by Jannelle Calderon
In which Israel-Palestine remains an intraparty wedge for vulnerable Democrats.
GOP lawmaker Heidi Kasama drops out of congressional race against Susie Lee by Gabby Birenbaum, Jacob Solis and Tabitha Mueller
Congressional races 📉, state races 📈.
In Vegas, Kamala Harris visit to Culinary Union spotlights labor role in 2024 election by Jacob Solis and Gabby Birenbaum
The latest in the non-campaign (but definitely campaign) from the White House.
Indy Ad Watch
Joe Biden — Cause
A year after the Jan. 6 insurrection, the Biden campaign wants swing voters to consider small-“d” democracy in 2024. This minute-long spot — “Cause” — intersperses images of Jan. 6 with classic American imagery (Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosie the Riveter, to name two). Undergirded by a Biden speech waxing on the power of “we the people,” the ad ends with a call for donations not for the Biden campaign, but for Democratic National Committee legal funds for election-related court cases.
It’s the latest push from the White House to energize voters on the issue, casting former President Donald Trump, by implication, as a foe to democracy itself. But whether the issue can make headway with voters still overwhelmingly concerned with the economy remains to be seen.
— Jacob Solis
The Lightning Round
💸 Cannizzaro banks $375,000 in 2023 fundraising — Shared first with The Nevada Independent, Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro’s (D-Las Vegas) year-end fundraising haul is well above the $322,000 the Senate majority leader raised in 2019 (ahead of her last re-election bid) and puts Cannizzaro’s war chest at roughly $700,000 cash on hand, per her campaign. For comparison, that total is about 60 percent of the $1.1 million Cannizzaro spent defending her seat in 2020 — a race she won by just 631 votes.
🕸️ State Democrats set up new anti-Lombardo website — In the latest salvo between Team Lombardo and state Democrats, the latter launched an attack website called “Lombardo Facts” on Tuesday promising “the truth” about the Republican governor. That includes shots at “dark money donors” (a reference to his dark money inaugural committee) and “ethics scandals” (a reference to the ongoing legal battle over what counts as “accoutrements of office,”) and the alliterative nickname “Lying Lombardo.”
🛑 Republican lawmakers intervene on abortion suit … — On Dec. 22, seven Republican legislators filed to intervene in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLU) on behalf of the Silver State Hope Fund seeking to reverse the state’s ban on Medicaid coverage for abortions. ACLU attorneys argue that the state’s prohibition on Medicaid coverage for abortion violates Nevada’s Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which voters adopted in 2022.
📃 … in a big first test for the ERA — However, in the motion to intervene, the seven lawmakers argued that based on legislative intent, the ERA was not meant to require state government to fund abortion services. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 16.
🗳️ Legislative candidate update — On Friday, Sen. Dina Neal (D-North Las Vegas) became the final legislative incumbent to announce her intentions for the 2024 election, though nothing is set in stone until candidate filing opens in March. More details and a full rundown on who is in and who is out on The Nevada Independent’s legislative candidate tracker here.
— Jacob Solis and Tabitha Mueller
And to ease you into the week, a few “posts” to “X” that caught our eye:
- Using this opportunity to will good primary/caucus weather into existence (for us, at least)
- Even if the primary rallies have dried up, at least no one has called us meaningless.
- 🚨🚨 ratings change alert 🚨🚨
We’ll see you next week.
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