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May 3, 2015

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Sandoval ready to move Nevada’s GOP caucuses back to February

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Gov. Brian Sandoval doesn’t have the official last word on telling the state party whether to stick to its guns or bend to national GOP pressure to move its caucus date back to February.

But as the top Republican in the state, many in Nevada are looking to him for a signal.

On Thursday, he indicated he was ready to cave to national party pressure and move Nevada’s caucuses after the other early contests — though that’s not how he wanted to characterize it.

“I don’t think it’s caving at all,” Sandoval said of the idea of moving Nevada’s caucuses from Jan. 14, when currently scheduled, to Feb. 4. “I don’t call it caving when you’re trying to work for the good of all.”

Nevada moved its caucuses from February to January this month, after Florida jumped ahead of other states’ nominating contests by advancing its primary from March 6 to Jan. 31, breaking Republican National Committee rules.

But Nevada has come under fire from New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. His state will likely have to hold its “first-in-the-nation” primary on Jan. 10. New Hampshire state law says no other state can hold its priamary or caucuses within seven days of New Hampshire’s primary. Nevada’s current date would fall within that window.

National Republicans, meanwhile, have been trying to strike a deal with Nevada. In exchange for moving its caucuses back to early February, it would be assured to be third in the nation in 2016 — even though that’s what Nevada was supposed to be guaranteed in the 2012 cycle.

At first, state officials and top GOP brass bristled at the idea that Nevada accommodate the vagaries of New Hampshire state law. But now the tone is decidedly different.

“I hope we reach a resolution that’s mutually beneficial to the candidates, the state of Nevada and the Republican Party,” Sandoval said, intimating that he trusted the RNC to do right by Nevada in the future.

“It’s not a matter of trust or not trust,” Sandoval said of RNC Chairman Renice Priebus. “He’s a great man, and he’s a great leader, and we’re working together.”

But the later primary date will likely benefit the GOP presidential candidate Sandoval has endorsed, Rick Perry. Sandoval denied that Perry’s interests influenced his discussions with the RNC.

“It’s not about my guy,” he said. “It’s about what is best for the party.”

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  1. The wording of the rules reads:
    "No primary, caucus, or convention to elect, select, allocate, or bind delegates to the national convention shall occur prior to the first Tuesday in March in the year in which a national convention is held."

    Suppose that the state holds a primary in January. Suppose that the results of this primary are published in the papers. Suppose, though, that the official process that "elects, selects, allocates, or binds delegates" occurs later on in February. This would not violate the wording of the rules.

    Suppose alternatively that the state GOP decides to avoid the primary process altogether and advance all of the candidates to the general election.

    One could also claim a "states' rights issue" (popular among Republicans): that the National Committee has no authority to bind any state committee to rules to which the state itself did not agree.

    Just stirring the pot with ideas....

  2. Karoun -

    I would like to clarify one thing. The New Hampshire law states "similar election". It never mentions "caucus". That is because a primary and a caucus a two very different animals. A caucus is a non-binding presidential prefernce poll conducted by the state party. A primary is a binding, one man, one vote election overseen by the SOS. That is why the NH State GOP Chair even said there would be no issue with NH on 1/10 and NV on 1/14.

    Additionally, you can look at past actions by the NH SOS and see that this is a bullying, grandstand play. In 1996 Delaware was going to have their PRIMARY four days after the NH PRIMARY. SOS Gardner bullied several candidates into boycotting the Delaware Primary. He then declared that since so many candidates were boycotting Deleware it was "not a similar election". He then held the NH primary with only a four day gap before Delawre. I suspect that was what he was trying to do here. Had he got a commitment to boycott by either Perry or Romney it would have taken two of the three top candidates from the race. Gardner could then declare it different, take the Jan 10 date and screw Nevada.

    Funny - in 1996 a primary was not the same as a primary but in 2011 a caucus IS the same as a primary.

  3. "It's not about my guy," he said. "It's about what is best for the party."

    This quote says alot about Gov. Sandoval. Should he be guided by what is best for the State of Nevada or what is best for his party? Actually he's being guided by what is best for his chosen candidate, even worse.

  4. In this respect, Sandoval is speaking for his party, not the state. And who cares whether you are #3 or #6? Does it really matter??? This is really much ado about nothing.

  5. Peshgil -

    Here is the law in New Hampshire from the SOS Website

    RSA 653:9 Presidential Primary Election. The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier, of each year when a president of the United States is to be elected or the year previous. Said primary shall be held in connection with the regular March town meeting or election or, if held on any other day, at a special election called by the secretary of state for that purpose.