Yesterday in a broadcasted interview with Nevada Newsmakers, Republican Governor Joe Lombardo threw some shade at the Nevada GOP and the RNC in response to to Sam Shad’s questions about the First in The West Caucus versus the state-run primary.
One question posed by Shad to Lombardo was leading, in that Shad ended his question with an assumptive close:
SHAD: So, I want to ask you about what’s going on with the Republican party and primary versus caucus? Is this not just gonna cause incredible confusion between the Republican voters?
LOMBARDO: Yeah, I believe it will and I think it will disenfranchise a number of voters that are very interested in voting for a presidential candidate. And for us to put upon them–the understanding of the process–is unacceptable and I don’t understand the need for it.
I think we all could surmise the need, you know, the reason why it was brought forward. But, I think it’s detrimental to the candidates and their inability to be part of both the primary and the caucus. So if you decide to be in the primary process, you can’t participate in the caucus. If you’re in the caucus, you can’t participate in the primary.
I think that’s unacceptable for the voters and the understanding of how things should be done.
A follow up by Shad elicits shade directed at the RNC from the GOP Governor in the following exchange:
SHAD: And this is not gonna help you down the road?
LOMBARDO: No, no, no, it won’t. I think it just continues in the disarray or the chaos that is occurring within the Republican party, currently. You know, if you take it to the federal level–what is occurring in Congress now, the ability to pick a speaker–then, you know, people start to get attitudes and references and beliefs. References that they say, “well, they can’t manage themselves.” (emphasis added)
Why would I support them when they run as part of that party? So it’s unfortunate, I’ve had numerous conversations both with the state party and other individuals involved and it is falling on deaf ears.
According to the Chairman of the Nevada GOP Michael McDonald, no such “numerous conversations” have occurred.
In a statement to The Globe, Chairman McDonald emphasized: “During this last legislative session, the Governor’s priorities of Voter ID, limited ballot harvesting, and wanting overall clear and transparent elections were ignored by the Democratic majority. The caucus is about standing up for what Nevada voters want and the caucus has been a part of Nevada politics for over 30 years. A majority of Independents, Democrats and Republicans want voter ID and the caucus is the only process that allows it. The presidential candidates who are serious about about winning, signed up for the caucus and have a ground game in place. The First in the West Caucus delivers what a majority of Nevadans and what the majority of GOP presidential candidates support.”
Attorney Sigal Chattah, Nevada’s National Committeewoman for the RNC also confirmed that she was unaware of the Governor’s concerns with the First in the West Caucus.
Chattah told The Globe: “I privately met with the governor on October 7 and discussed a myriad of issues, including his neutral stance on the caucus. Never once did he indicate any concern of disenfranchisement of Republican voters, nor did he indicate any dissent or adverse sentiments about the process. The party looks forward to mitigating his concerns so Republicans across the state will have a successful First In The West caucus which includes former Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, Chris Christie, and Doug Burgum.”
In a statement to The Globe, Elizabeth Ray, Communications Director for Governor Lombardo, responded: “Governor Lombardo has consistently stated that he would like to see all candidates engage with all Republican voters. The process that has been put in place makes that impossible. Governor Lombardo hopes to work with the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party to elect Republicans up and down the ballot in 2024 and beyond.”
After a “spirited” debate in September, the caucus received overwhelming support of the NV GOP Central Committee Members who also voted for a resolution that will bar Super PAC’s from participating in the caucus because “the party’s attorneys are cautious about Super PACs and their use of dark money,” McDonald said.
In an opinion editorial exclusive to The Globe, RNC National Committeeman Jim DeGraffenreid acknowledged that “there has been a surprising number of articles by so-called ‘conservative’ commentators using liberal talking points in support of abdicating Nevada Republican’s right to choose their nominee to the state.” DeGraffenreid further notes that the state-run primary is not only expensive but meaningless in that it doesn’t bind delegates to the candidate.
Prior to the Democrat’s passage of AB126 in 2021, Nevada’s major political parties used caucuses for choosing and binding delegates to the national convention and nominating presidential candidates. After 105,000 Democrats voted in the 2020 caucuses, Bernie Sanders dominated the Democratic field, despite predictions of chaos, and his delegates overthrew the Harry Reid political power structure. After this shift in political power, legislation to prevent such political upheaval and caucus-related “chaos” was born.
At the time, Harry Reid told the Las Vegas Review Journal: “My No. 1 priority is getting rid of the caucuses. They don’t work. It was proven in Iowa. We did OK here, but the system is so unfair.”
In summary, Nevada’s Democratic establishment lost so the system was suddenly “unfair.”
Nevada Republicans have participated in caucus primaries since 1980 and maintain that it is the purest form of voter participation and election integrity as the caucus will require identification to vote and will release the results from each precinct that evening– as opposed to a state-run presidential primary which is estimated to cost $5 million and will include universal mail balloting and delayed election results for GOP presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, who are currently polling at single digits in the Silver State.
For decades, the caucus was considered fair and was roundly supported by the sudden critics who now claim that the caucus is somehow rigged, prevents voter participation, or denies voters the opportunity to engage with candidates. Yet, those concerns remain speculative and not supported by decades of precedent.
Despite their concerns, the First in the West Caucus will be held on February 8, two days after the February 6, 2024, state-run presidential primary election.
“There’s a lot of registered independents in the state of Nevada now, and they are eclipsing the numbers on the Democratic side and the Republican side,” he said. “We want their voice heard in the primary, but this proverbial jungle primary doesn’t solve anything.”
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