Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Nevada Adjourns Legislative Session Without Passing Presidential Primary Bill

The effort in Nevada to trade in caucuses for a presidential primary in 2016 died in the sine die day chaos on Monday, June 1 as legislative activity ceased in the Silver state until the 2017 biennium.

What began in March as a Senate bill to reestablish a presidential primary in Nevada and consolidate that election with all other primary elections in January ended as time ran out with the bill  still on the board, basically being ignored in the last minute rush. SB 421 took many twists and turns along the way; such is the legislative process. A timeline:
The last legislative day is always crazy. It brought provocative change to the presidential primary date in Florida in 2007. The last minute pressure pushed through the tethering of the North Carolina presidential primary to South Carolina's in 2013. But it working in the eleventh hour can also bring about inaction. The legislative gears can grind to a halt on some issues before a body and that was the case with the presidential primary change in Nevada. There was not enough support for the measure in the current Assembly and the bill died.

Governor Sandoval (R) has already signaled that there would be no special session. That means both parties in Nevada will hold caucuses in 2016 (unless some money magically appears for Republicans to hold a party-funded primary, perhaps online?).

Nevada's Future: What Harry Reid bringeth, Harry Reid taketh away.

There is a lot more to it, but it is fitting that Harry Reid twisted arms to get Nevada into the early Democratic primary line up in 2006 and likely will have played a role in costing the Silver state that protected status in the future.

FHQ says that because it really is not that much of a secret that both parties want to dump Nevada. Republicans were kind of forced to add the Silver state to the carve-out states once the Democrats did so for 2008 and the results so far -- in both 2008 and 2012 -- left much to be desired. Nevada Republicans very simply were not ready for primetime. Under the glare of the presidential primary spotlight, the Republican Party in Nevada has now had two flawed attempts at early caucuses.

On the Democratic side, FHQ has heard more than once -- directly and indirectly -- that they were waiting on Harry Reid to retire before making a change.

None of these changes will happen for 2016. Both national parties have written protections into their rules for Nevada and are unlikely to make any changes midstream. Democrats will caucus as usual next February and the RNC is likely to continue its involvement, collectively slapping enough of a band-aid on the Nevada Republican caucus proceedings to get through without too much damage.

But 2020? FHQ would advise selling any Nevada early state stock that you have.

And last night factors into that to some degree. It is odd to FHQ that Reid would be in opposition to legislation that basically gave both parties in Nevada what their national parties wanted: a primary for Republicans and a caucus for Democrats. The secret to New Hampshire and Iowa staying early has always been that both of the state parties are unified -- in solidarity -- as a means of protecting early state status. Those parties -- or the secretary of state in New Hampshire's case -- do whatever it takes to stay first. If you want a bipartisan issue, in Iowa and New Hampshire, it is that first in the nation status.

Nevada has kind of had that over the last two presidential election cycles. But now they don't or won't. After the defeat of the primary bill at the close of the Nevada state legislative session last night, Nevada now has a situation where the RNC is not happy with the caucuses in the state and the DNC is only marginally so (because Harry Reid still wields some influence).

That is not a unified front. By twisting arms last night, Harry Reid likely jeopardized Nevada Republican's early state status. But by breaking up the best case scenario for both parties in 2016, he likely hurt the chances of Nevada Democrats retaining their position on the calendar in the future.1

None of this is anywhere close to happening. No, this issue will not be dealt with until after the 2016 election, between early 2017 and the summer of 2018 when the national parties finalize their delegate selection rules for the 2020 cycle.

1 Now, granted there are short term versus long term implications here. Short term, it may have been in Nevada Democrats' interest to prevent the Republican Party in the Silver state from having a higher turnout primary election that potentially energizes more Republicans in the state. Voters who turnout to vote in a primary are much more likely to participate in a general election (in one of the likely handful of battleground states in 2016).

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