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Judge denies NV GOP request to block presidential primary election

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Election 2024Elections
Carson City Courthouse on Nov. 16, 2021. (Photo by David Calvert).

A Carson City judge has denied a motion by the Nevada Republican Party to block the state from holding a presidential primary election next year in favor of a caucus.

Judge James Russell issued the ruling from the bench Monday, denying the state party’s lawsuit filed in May challenging a 2021 law moving the state away from a presidential caucus to a primary election.

The lawsuit argued that the 2021 law would prevent the party from holding a caucus, but attorneys representing the state said the NV GOP could still choose to hold a caucus to determine how to allocate presidential delegates if it chose to do so.

Nevada Republican Party Chair Michael McDonald said in an interview Monday that the party was weighing legal options after the ruling, but had anticipated the outcome and was “prepared for a long fight.” He said the party was working with Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar’s office (whom he described as “phenomenal to work with”) to reach a workable solution.

McDonald added that the party still intends to hold a caucus in February to allocate the state’s presidential delegates, and is now seeking to avert a state-run primary election to avoid confusing voters and prevent a “huge waste of taxpayer money.”

“It’s not going to matter, and it won’t be counted,” he said.

While primaries are run by governments and use secret ballots, caucuses are run by political parties, require in-person participation, and involve publicly indicating one’s preferred candidate. 

In 2021, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed laws transitioning Nevada from a caucus to a presidential primary, and moving the date for it to be held to the first Tuesday in February, advancing the state in the presidential nominating calendar. The law was opposed by Republicans in the Legislature.

Since then, the Democratic National Committee approved a schedule that calls for Nevada and New Hampshire to hold concurrent primaries on that date, going second after South Carolina. 

The Republican Party wants to keep the traditional Iowa-New Hampshire-South Carolina-Nevada schedule and maintain the state’s caucus model, which the 2021 law, enacted through AB126, would foil.


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