NV GOP Files Lawsuit Against Nevada Over Presidential Primary System

President Donald Trump speaks at a Nevada GOP Convention in Las Vegas, Saturday, June 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Late last month, the Nevada Republican Party (NV GOP) filed a lawsuit against the state of Nevada and Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar (D) challenging the state’s presidential primary system. The lawsuit stems from the enactment of Assembly Bill 126 in 2021, signed by then-Governor Steve Sisolak (D), which replaced the caucus system with a primary system for nominating presidential candidates.


The NV GOP released a statement on the litigation, citing efforts to prevent “out-of-state interference” and condemning the state’s Democratic legislators for “stonewalling” Republican Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo’s election reforms.

NV GOP wrote:

Today, the Nevada Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the State of Nevada to ensure that only Republicans will decide the method of choosing our Republican Presidential nominee.

Due to the inability of Nevada Democrats to execute a smooth, efficient caucus, they want to use unaccountable dark money in an attempt to force Republicans to change the way we choose our Presidential nominee, and allow out-of-state interests to interfere in the Nevada GOP nominating process. The first four early states continue to stand together to maintain our historic role in the Presidential nominating process. Despite the continued stonewalling of Governor Lombardo’s election bills seeking voter ID and transparent, accountable elections, the Nevada Republican Party will never stop fighting for free and fair elections. We look forward to the precedent that political parties may decide their method of choosing their nominee being upheld in court.

In the statement, the Republican state party blamed the Democrat party for their inability to run caucuses. In recent NV Dem history, a socialist slate had taken over the party, clashing and interfering with the establishment strongholds. The 2020 Nevada Democratic caucuses yielded Bernie Sanders as the winner, beating Joe Biden in a landslide by nearly 22 points. Sanders’ campaign won a significant number of the caucuses in precincts along the Las Vegas Strip, where many Culinary Union members in the hospitality industry reside, although the state’s most powerful union had opposed Sanders due to his Medicare-for-All plan. This incident marked a flash-point in a major power struggle that would play out in the Democrat ranks.


The Democrat caucus’ results faced scrutiny, with then-presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg raising concerns about the outcome, where he finished in third place, noting over “200 reports of problems merging the early votes,” just one day into voting with forty percent of the precincts remaining unreported. The complete results were published two days after the caucus. Similar to previous instances, there were reports of “confusion, calculation glitches, and delays in reporting,” raising doubts about the viability of caucuses. Former Nevada Senator Harry Reid advocated for Nevada to transition to a primary system.

Since then, a socialist slate took over the Dem state party, with Judith Whitmer winning chair in 2021, causing the Democrat establishment ilk to run a shadow group through the 2022 midterm elections. Last month, the socialist faction was ousted from power and the reins turned back to the late Harry Reid-machine predecessors, under the elevation of “unity candidate” Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, winning in a formidable 314-99 vote. 

In the complaint, the NV GOP argues that the process of voting for and choosing presidential candidates, which includes the selection and binding of delegates to a nominating convention, falls within the constitutionally-protected right to freedom of association. They claim that A.B. 126 poses a threat to the NV GOP and the rights of Nevada citizens under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to freely associate. The Republican plaintiff seeks to prevent the secretary of state from enforcing the provisions of A.B. 126 that mandate participation in the presidential primary system. They also request that the court affirm the NV GOP’s authority to select and bind its delegates for the national presidential nominating convention in accordance with its own rules and bylaws. The complaint says:


AB 126 seemingly contemplates no role for major political parties in the primary election system beyond providing a list of qualified candidates to appear on the ballot. AB 126 is notable because it seemingly precludes a major political party such as the NV GOP from opting out of the primary election process, and thus impedes its ability to pursue a party-run caucus system (or other permissible method) instead.

With respect to the impending 2024 presidential nomination process, AB 126 will force the NV GOP to use a state-run primary system at the possible exclusion of a party-run caucus system or other permissible method of selection pursuant to its rules/bylaws. As such, AB 126 threatens to obstruct the rights of the NV GOP and Nevada citizens under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to freely associate. Indeed, individuals are guaranteed the right to organize themselves into political parties, parties which are self-governed and not subject to state interference/influence as to how its presidential candidates are chosen -something that was expressly deemed to be unconstitutional in passing SB 292.

The NV GOP is asking that the court block the Secretary of State’s enforcement of the state-run and imposed primary through an injunction. Alternatively, the NV GOP asks the court to declare the results of the 2024 presidential primary as non-binding if the GOP is compelled to participate in a primary against its wishes. The state Republican party is asking the court to allow the party to select and bind its delegates for the national presidential nominating convention according to its own rules and bylaws.

Attorney Sigal Chattah is representing the NV GOP in a lawsuit filed on May 26, 2023 challenging the presidential primary caucus system enacted by legislation.
Sigal Chattah NV AG Republican nominee
Courtesy of Sigal Chattah

The state party is represented by attorney Sigal Chattah, who is the NV Republican National Committeewoman for the RNC and was the Republican nominee for Nevada Attorney General in 2022. Democracy Docket founder Marc Elias has taken to social media to criticize Chattah as a “conspiracy theorist.”

Read More:

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In response to the lawsuit, which the Nevada Democratic Party called “bogus,” NV Dems spokesperson Mallory Payne released a statement saying that the GOP legal maneuver was done to benefit former President Donald Trump, writing:

This is the GOP playbook at work – restrict voting access to limit as many voices as possible and change the rules if they don’t serve their interests. Democrats moved from a caucus to a presidential preference primary to simplify the process and make voting easier and more accessible. Republicans aren’t even trying that hard to hide their intentions – they’re doing whatever it takes to protect their MAGA leader and get Trump over the finish line.


In September 2020, the Republican Caucus was canceled, allowing the NV GOP to focus time and resources on the November election, while then-President Donald Trump held several campaign rallies in the state. At the same state central committee meeting, Chairman Michael J. McDonald was re-elected to his fifth term as state party chair, making him the second longest-tenured Republican chairman in the country, and the longest-serving Republican chair in state history. In a statement, Chairman McDonald wrote:

I am honored to have this vote of confidence from our central committee and to be re-elected to a historic fifth term.

Chairman McDonald addressed the state’s committee members voting to scrap the presidential primary, writing, “It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte. I am excited that our central committee has agreed with this proposal and voted to give us a way to bypass the caucus process.”

Disclaimer: The author is acquainted with several people mentioned in this article, and has been party to litigation involving the Republican Party of Nevada.


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