Thursday, April 9, 2015

Amended February Presidential Primary Bill Advances in Nevada

On Monday, April 6, the Nevada state Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections conducted a work session covering SB 421. As introduced, that legislation would establish a presidential primary in the Silver state, schedule it for January and consolidate with that election the primaries for other offices usually scheduled in June.

However, that version of the bill was roundly criticized in its initial hearing before the committee last week. The Nevada Republican Party testified against it having already opted for caucuses at its spring state central committee meeting. Local elections officials panned the bill because of the constraints a January primary would place on the elections administrators as well as volunteers who man the polling stations. Committee Democrats raised concerns over how trading in caucuses for a primary would affect Nevada Democrats' position among the carve-out states. Minor party candidates voiced opposition based on having to convene meetings and file for races nearly a year in advance of the general election.

The only support during that initial hearing came from the bill's sponsor, Senator James Settlemeyer (R-17th, Minden). In the work session this past Monday, Settlemeyer, who sits on the committee was not alone in his support. As promised last week, Settlemeyer introduced an amendment to keep the bill mostly as is and change the January primary date to the third Tuesday in February. A competing amendment from Clark County would have removed much of the bill and given the state parties the option of holding a primary concurrent with the June primary.1 After little discussion, Settlemeyer motioned to pass the bill with a do pass recommendation and with the amended February primary date. The subsequent vote broke along party lines with majority Republicans in support and the two Democrats on the committee against.

On the one hand, this is a surprising outcome given that Republicans on the committee pushed the bill forward against the wishes of the state party. However, with the sponsor on the committee, SB 421 stood a better chance of reaching the floor. Whether it moves on from there is a matter that will be determined later. For now, though, the February primary bill has advanced.

UPDATE 4/10/15: Amended Assembly bill for February primary option clears committee

1 The June primary falls on the second Tuesday following the first Monday in June. That would put Nevada Republicans on the wrong side of the window of time in which the RNC mandates states hold contests (second Saturday in June).

Are you following FHQ on TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook? Click on the links to join in.


Jack C. said...

So how would this affect the IA/NH/SC dates?

Josh Putnam said...

I don't think it will have any impact at all. In the grand scheme of things, this bill and the other one (now different) are moot. Both parties in Nevada have already opted to caucus next year. Not that the parties' endorsements are gospel in a state legislature, but it matters in this case.

I would be quite surprised if the Senate version did NOT find a body hostile to it on the floor of the upper chamber. {Famous last words}