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In a letter released on Thursday, President Joe Biden suggested a presidential nomination calendar to the Democratic National Committee to make South Carolina the first in the nation to vote, followed a week later by New Hampshire and Nevada on the same day, and Georgia, then Michigan. The Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on Friday, to move forward with the proposal, with the final vote to take place in 2023.
The Nevada Democratic Party rejected Biden’s proposal, as they have long lobbied to make Nevada the “first in the nation” state. And it all backfired. Biden’s letter mostly cites “diversity” as the reason South Carolina was put ahead of other states, while Nevada Democrats argue that the Silver State is diverse, with one-third of voters being Latino.
I don’t think demographics was why Nevada’s Harry Reid legacy (that made Nevada so important as an early state) just got gut-punched. It’s because Nevada shouldn’t have done what Nevada did. What did Nevada Democrats do wrong? Well, everything.
In reading into any of the backlash from the Nevada Democratic Party, you have to remember an openly socialist slate took over. This occurred only after Nevada nominated Bernie Sanders in 2020, by a large point spread over the second-place winner, Biden. It gave Sanders a lead going into Super Tuesday. So, while they can point to diversity all they want, the fact is that the people running the Nevada Democratic Party didn’t nominate Biden in 2020, and who knows if they will go for a progressive… or straight socialist this cycle, thus embarrassing Biden a second time?
The other mistake is much more Democrat establishmentarian. In 2021, Nevada’s Democrats, led by then-Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, sponsored a bill moving Nevada from caucuses to primaries and putting the date theoretically ahead of New Hampshire as the first-to-vote state. The Democrat-majority legislature passed the bill and Governor Sisolak signed it, ignoring the fact that New Hampshire law requires that they hold a primary election seven days ahead of similar contests. Nevada’s unilateral maneuver of self-importance was likely frustrating to other early-voting states.
At the time, there was major opposition from Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald. Forbes reported:
Though the move is meant to increase Nevada’s influence by giving it an outsized role in selecting presidential nominees, McDonald warned that the move is “likely to diminish” Nevada’s sway.
Ope, McDonald can claim a “told you so” on that forecast.
Also, in 2021, Nevada codified universal mail-in voting and has since run elections that caused great distress to national spectators in both the last presidential election and the recent midterms. I had to report on the statutory timeline, trying to assure readers that this is indeed the statutory stupidity the legislature put in place. It’s supposed to take longer than a week, unfortunately.
During the midterms, it was clear that Nevada’s Hispanic vote was not a foregone conclusion in favor of Democrats. While Nevada is a battleground state, part of that battleground is over the ideological leanings of Latinos. So, while counter-arguments are about how very Latino Nevada voters may be, the truth is that partisan pickups of the Latino vote remain competitive.
Lastly, ballot Question 3 was approved by Nevada voters in the midterms, and will need to be approved once more to change the state constitution. Andrew Yang and his Forward Party sponsored this initiative. It moves the state closer to open primaries and “top 5” ranked choice voting. The ranked-choice voting will not impact the presidential nomination primary, but the other part of the policy would create an open, “jungle” primary, which allows people who are not registered in the major parties to select parties’ nominees.
In closing, the Democrats did just about everything to make sure they lost the spot, and if they do secure a second-in-the-nation opportunity, it will probably backfire. Most likely, other states will run their primaries in the following weeks while the nation still awaits Nevada’s results… and Nevada’s results might not hold the prettiest picture for Democrats with progressive picks or Hispanic hesitancy.
If and when Nevada loses out on being among the first to nominate for president, the state’s Democrats will have earned exactly what they got. Play stupid games; win stupid prizes.