Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011 | 10:01 a.m.
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.”