Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 | 7:40 p.m.
In an effort to preserve the state’s relevancy in choosing the Republican who will go up against President Barack Obama next year, the Nevada GOP today set Jan. 14 as its caucus date.
The move brings the party one step closer to locking down an early primary contest calendar that was upended last week when Florida flouted national party rules and moved its primary to Jan. 31.
Since 2008, Nevada has enjoyed the privileged third-in-the-nation presidential primary contest, which is supposed to motivate candidates to compete in the small state.
By moving its caucus date from February to Jan. 14, Nevada will lose half of its delegates to the national convention. Party leaders found the penalty an acceptable loss in exchange for protecting the state’s influence as an early proving ground for the field of GOP contenders.
“This is absolutely in the best interest of our state,” Amy Tarkanian, chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, said in a written statement. “We are in the process of creating a caucus that will energize Republicans throughout Nevada and the west, and allow us to play a major role in deciding who will carry the fight to unseat Barack Obama and his destructive policies.”
Nevada’s selection of a caucus date means New Hampshire will soon choose a date for its second-in-the-nation contest. Under New Hampshire law, the Granite State’s primary is to be set at least seven days before any other primary contest.