Sandoval expects caucus date compromise
LAS VEGAS – Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval said he is working on a compromise deal with national Republican leaders over the state’s mid-January caucus date, indicating that state leaders are preparing to bow to national pressure and push back the contest.
“I don’t think it’s caving at all,” Sandoval told reporters in Las Vegas Wednesday. “I don’t call it caving when you’re trying to work for the good of all.”
Sandoval is the latest Nevada GOP leader to concede that party leaders here are considering changing the Jan. 14 contest date after New Hampshire officials urged the presidential primary candidates to boycott the western state or risk losing support. They argue the date wedges New Hampshire’s primary too close to Nevada’s voting and Iowa’s caucuses, which are slated for Jan. 3.
Sandoval said he hopes GOP leaders can find a solution that will equally benefit Nevada, the candidates and the Republican Party. He said he had not spoken to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus about the nomination calendar since Tuesday night and could not discuss the potential deal or which dates would be preferable.
“I just think it’s important that Nevada preserve its ability to be first in the West,” Sandoval said.
The retreat comes only days after Sandoval defended the Jan. 14 date and vowed to ignore New Hampshire’s threats. Sandoval said Wednesday that party unity was more important than which state would get to use its preferred nomination date.
“It’s not an arm-wrestling contest between two states,” he said.
Nevada party leaders could decide to reschedule the caucuses before Saturday, when the rank-and-file are set to vote on the matter at a central committee meeting in Las Vegas. Some party members want the date moved to Jan. 17 to make New Hampshire happy. Others want to move the contest to Feb. 4 to comply with national committee rules and avoid losing any delegates during the national Republican convention in Tampa next year. A third group supports keeping the Jan. 14 date.
Nevada, Iowa and South Carolina moved their contests from February to January earlier this month, after Florida announced it would violate national Republican rules and hold its primary on Jan. 31. Nevada alone has since been targeted by boycott proponents.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, businessman Herman Cain and three other candidates have said they will not participate in Nevada’s caucuses if the contest isn’t moved back. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas have not joined the boycott, but have pledged support for New Hampshire’s cause.
New Hampshire officials have said they will hold the nation’s first primary in December if Nevada doesn’t delay its contest.