Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Update on Nevada: Republican Caucuses Before January 21

This probably does not come as stunning news, but the Nevada Republican Party has, according to Laura Myers at the Las Vegas Review Journal, decided to hold its precinct caucuses on a date prior to January 21.
GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said Nevada doesn't want to compete with South Carolina for attention from the candidates, who had to choose between the two states the last time around.
"We want to make sure the presidential candidates play here in Nevada," Tarkanian said Monday after South Carolina set its date. "We want to be a focus and absolutely not go the same day."
In sum, that means a few things:

  1. Nevada Republicans will not hold caucuses simultaneous with the South Carolina Republican primary in 2012 as the party did in 2008. In other words, Nevada's Republicans are attempting to carve out their own distinct date within the pre-window period; one with enough distance between it and the South Carolina primary that does not require the candidates to choose between the two.
  2. This eliminates Saturday, January 21 as a possibility for Nevada. 
  3. And that, in turn, means that if the party sticks to its resolution to hold caucuses on the Saturday after New Hampshire, there are only two options left that are actually on the 2012 calendar: January 7 and 14. 

Again, the resolution to the conflict between the Nevada Republican resolution (setting the caucuses the Saturday after New Hampshire) and the New Hampshire state law (requiring a week between it and the next contest) will decide how many options are open to both states in addition to Iowa. Something will have to give. Either New Hampshire will seek out a non-Tuesday primary date or Nevada Republicans will abandon weekend caucuses. Absent a Nevada change, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is likely to pull the trigger on the nuclear option: a December primary (or at least threaten it).

That yields a choice set, something like this:
December 26-30 or January 2-3: Iowa
January 3, 7 or 10: New Hampshire
January 14 or 17: Nevada
The January 17 option for Nevada is probably slightly more probable than anything else, but that depends on whether the Nevada Republican Party judges that four day period between it and South Carolina to be a long enough space of time. Nevada is, perhaps, unfairly feeling the pinch here. South Carolina got to provide itself with enough space between its primary and Florida's, and now New Hampshire is requiring Nevada to give it space. Stuck in the middle with seemingly very little say is Nevada. Well, Nevada Republicans think they have some say, but they are and will continue to find out that that isn't not the reality.

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