As the 2016 election inches closer, a number of Republican presidential candidates are booking an increasing number of trips to Nevada.
Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt is hosting several candidates at a Basque-style barbecue open to the public at the Corley Ranch in Gardnerville on Aug. 15.
Slightly more than a week later on Aug. 22, around seven Republican candidates are expected to attend a candidate forum and straw polling event in Lake Tahoe called the “First in the West Presidential Roundup.”
Organizers for both events say they don’t want to compete for candidates, but rather give Nevadans more opportunities to interact with presidential candidates.
“We don’t want to cannibalize each other,” Nevada Republican Alliance spokesman Shawn Meehan said. “We want to help each other.”
Political operative and former Laxalt campaign manager Robert Uithoven said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson will attend the barbecue hosted by Laxalt, which is about 50 miles outside of Reno.
Uithoven said the barbecue continues the tradition of Laxalt’s grandfather Paul Laxalt, who hosted similar barbecues with political figures both as a governor and senator.
“We want to make this the first of many events in Nevada,” he said.
He said the barbecue will be open to the public and will give voters in rural Nevada a chance to interact with presidential candidates, who traditionally only visit Reno and Las Vegas. He said no poll or debate between candidates is scheduled.
Meehan said the candidate forum, which will be held at Harveys Lake Tahoe Casino, is expected to attract several thousand attendees and will give candidates around 20 minutes on stage to make their pitch to voters. He said around seven candidates have made verbal commitments to attend, but didn’t want to publicly announce their participation with around two months before the event.
Meehan said winning the straw poll, which is a joint project between the state Republican party and the Douglas County Republican Party, could be a boon to candidates without much momentum early in the race.
“That can be huge to them nationwide in popularity, votes and fundraising early in the race,” he said.