Jim Hartman: Nevada GOP's dueling presidential nomination elections

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman

Nevada Republicans will have both a party caucus and a primary election in February to decide who they want to be the GOP presidential nominee – but only one will count.

The Nevada GOP is insisting on holding its own caucus despite a state law passed in 2021 calling for a primary election . A caucus benefits former President Donald Trump.

The Nevada GOP sued to block the primary but lost in court. Carson City District Judge James Russell denied the request July 10.

The attorney representing the Nevada GOP was ultra-MAGA Republican Sigal Chattah. A failed candidate for attorney general last November, Chattah is now the Nevada GOP’s Republican National committeewoman. She’s an ardent Trump supporter.

On Aug. 14, the Nevada GOP announced it will hold its presidential “caucus” on Feb. 8 – two days after Nevada holds its legally-mandated presidential primary.

The dueling elections are certain to confuse Republican voters.

Delegates to the Republican National Convention will be decided by the results of the caucus, not the primary. That means the primary will be only a “beauty contest” – with no meaning.

Republican voters who wish to have a say in who goes to the national convention and which GOP candidate gets their support will have to show up in-person on Feb. 8 at 5 p.m. at locations not yet determined.

Republican voters who participate in the primary beauty contest will be able to vote at any time on Feb. 6 at any regular polling location. They’ll also be able to vote early or by mail.

The primary election is certain to have a much larger turnout than the caucus.

But a report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal is even more alarming.

The Nevada GOP is also telling the various presidential campaigns “they must not participate in the state presidential primary – such as filing a statement of candidacy with the state – or else they will not be able to participate in the caucus and will be awarded no delegates.”

So the party is not only shutting out tens of thousands of Republican voters who can’t or won’t vote in the caucus for a range of reasons, the Nevada GOP is denying legitimate Republican candidates from even appearing on the primary ballot.

This is a major public relations disaster for the GOP as Nevada Republican voters realize what the state party has done to them.

But the party doesn’t care. In reality, the Nevada GOP is the Trump campaign in Nevada. Its executive director, Alida Benson, only recently resigned to become the state director for the Trump campaign.

Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and Vice Chairman Jim DeGraffenreid , longtime Trump loyalists, both signed certificates falsely stating Trump had won Nevada in 2020.

They believe Trump will crush his opposition in a tightly controlled caucus – where they can make and change the rules – but in an open primary, with vastly more Republican voters participating, the outcome would be less certain.

In addition, the party itself will be spending tens of thousands of dollars it doesn’t have holding their alternative caucus rather than participating in the primary, which is paid for by the public.

That’s a lot of money the party could be spending on state legislative races where the GOP is currently a super-minority in the Assembly and only one seat away from a super-minority in the Senate.

Gov. Joe Lombardo needs a friendlier Legislature.

But for the Nevada GOP, nothing matters other than stacking the deck to assure Donald Trump gets the state convention delegates next February.

In 2020, the Nevada GOP canceled its presidential caucus to avoid Trump facing three Republican challengers.

Trump repeatedly complains about rigged elections. In Nevada, both in the 2020 and 2024 nomination process, Trump’s the one doing the rigging.

E-mail Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.


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