LAS VEGAS (KSNV) — Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the father of the Nevada Democratic Caucus, has pushed for us to jump to the head of the election line for years.
“We should be, because it's damn sure not gonna be New Hampshire that's representative of the country, and there's Iowa,” he said.
Reid's case, in a nutshell, has always been that the Silver State looks more like a changing America, unlike New Hampshire, which in the last available U.S. Census figures is 93% white, or Iowa, which is 91% white.
Now, Nevada is making a serious case to vote first. Waiting for the governor's signature is Assembly Bill 126, which Democrats passed out of both chambers.
The bill ditches our caucus and requires both political parties to hold a primary on the first Tuesday in February.
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Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Clark County, is one of the main sponsors.
“This is not a selfish motive in putting Nevada first. We believe that Nevada better represents where the country is going and better represents the voices of a diverse constituency,” says Frierson.
It’s one that, according to the latest Nevada census numbers, is 10% black, 9% Asian, and 29% Latino, far greater than both Iowa and New Hampshire.
Speaking of New Hampshire, it has a state law that requires it to vote first.
Its secretary of state, Bill Gardner, told News 3 on Wednesday he'll follow their law, which would mean moving their date ahead of ours.
Frierson's aware of that.
“We believe whether New Hampshire changes their date or not, that Nevada is the best early test ground for candidates,” he says.
Frierson added that candidates coming here will face a bigger diversity not only of people but issues too.
It will be up to the national committees of both parties to set their election calendars.
Any room for compromise, like several states voting on the same day, we asked Harry Reid?
“I don't think we should give away anything in our negotiations. I think we should be first,” he said.
Assembly Bill 126 did not get any GOP support at the legislature. Republicans said both parties’ delegates could be disqualified from their national conventions if Nevada’s calendar move did not get approval. Republicans also said their caucus worked well, so why change?
“I’m not hearing at the door that folks want to have a process where its limited participation and they have to give up a half, if not a whole day, for a pep rally,” Frierson countered.
While caucuses are paid for by a political party, states pay for and run primaries. Frierson says the cost is still to be determined, although Republicans floated a number of $5 million. It will be up to the 2023 Legislature to allocate the funds.
“When we’re talking about a constitutional right, what’s the cost of democracy,” asks Frierson. “This is an investment well worth having.”