January 17th, 2008
02:10 PM ET
6 years ago

Judge OKs casino caucuses in Nevada

Caucus sites can be held on the Las Vegas strip, a judge rule.
Caucus sites can be held on the Las Vegas strip, a judge rule.

LAS VEGAS (CNN) - The Democratic Party can go ahead with a plan to let casino workers take part in Saturday's Nevada caucuses in "at-large" precincts set up in their workplaces, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The state teacher's union went to court to challenge the plan, arguing that the casino caucus sites Saturday night will give the roughly 200,000 workers on the Las Vegas strip an unfair advantage over other voters who have to work that night. But U.S. District Judge James Mahan rejected that argument after a Thursday morning hearing.

The lawsuit sparked a battle between the 28,000-member Nevada State Education Association and the state's biggest labor organization, the 60,000-member Nevada Culinary Workers Union, which supports the casino caucuses. The culinary workers endorsed Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in Saturday's contest and accused the teachers union of trying to tilt the race in favor of his leading rival, senator and former first lady Hillary Clinton of New York.

Recent published polls show Clinton and Obama in a statistical dead heat going into the Nevada contest. Saturday's results could give the winner the upper hand going into the first contest in the South, the January 26 primary in South Carolina.

"When you're trying to change the rules a week before that were approved 10 months before, that's just not right, and I think people see through it as just crass politics," D. Taylor, secretary-treasurer of the Nevada Culinary Workers Union, said Wednesday.

The teachers' union has not endorsed Clinton, though some of its members and leaders are backing the former first lady.

"There are many conspiracy theories, I'll grant you that," said Terry Hickman, the union's executive director. "But our effort and our belief is that there's a fundamental right of fairness that's being ignored."

Republicans have made no provisions for "at-large" caucuses, so workers who want to participate in the GOP contest must find time to return to their neighborhood precincts.

Clinton said Wednesday that she wanted to see the issue resolved, "because obviously we want as many people as possible to be able to participate." And her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said he "had nothing to do with this lawsuit."

But he told a reporter from San Francisco television station KGO in a testy exchange that "some people in Nevada are old-fashioned. They think the rules should be the same for everybody, and everybody's vote should count the same."

UPDATE: The Obama campaign applauded the court's decision. "We're glad that the Nevada court upheld the Nevada Democratic Party's caucus plan which encourages voter participation," Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement.

"While the Clinton camp clearly believed the voices of workers should be silenced in service of their perceived political interest, they enjoyed a 25-point lead two months ago and have much of the party establishment in their camp.  So, despite their inherent advantages we are pleased this should be a close and competitive contest Saturday," said Burton.

– CNN's Jessica Yellin and Candy Crowley contributed to this report


Filed under: Nevada
soundoff (297 Responses)
  1. pete

    take a look at this example of plain dishonesty on the clinton camp. Read the quote.
    "While we were not involved in this lawsuit, and have always said that we would play by the rules that we're given, it has always been our hope that every Nevadan should have equal access and opportunity to participate in the caucus," said a statement from Clinton spokesman Jay Carson.

    This hope that evey Nevadan should have equal access ONLY BECOMES IMPORTANT DAYS BEFORE THE VOTEYOU HAVE 10 MONTHS TO PUT FORTH YOUR OPIONION OF "FAIRNESS". AND OF COURSE IF THE CULINARY UNION DOES NOT BACK YOUR CANDIDATE.

    think about it. if clinton really cared about everyone having a chance to vote, why support the challenge at this point in time. The answer is very clear. They are lying to the American people and insulting our intelligence with their lies.

    AMERICA, SHOW THE CLINTONS WE ARE NOT AS DUMB AS THEY THINK.

    January 17, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  2. ROGER MOORE

    HILL AND BILL ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GET ON THE TV AND CRY MAYBE YOU WILL WIN!!! OB 08

    January 17, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  3. Linda

    Bill is turning into a real "bad boy" and is probably hurting Hillary more than helping. That's OK because he's showing the real colors of the Clintons. First Hillary is "crying" on the TV and now Bill wants to take a TV reporter out! Both are turning into real cry babies. If it's not their way it's the wrong way. I can see Hillary now sitting at the desk in the Oval Office "crying" because the republicans won't play fair and Bill busting into the Senate warning them to stop giving his wife a hard time.

    If you're going to play with the big guys – SUCK IT UP HILLARY!!! You can't take jabs at Obama when your up and whine and cry foul when your down!

    OBAMA in '08!

    January 17, 2008 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  4. Rose Marie Siano

    Can other people caucus at their place of work? What about people who work in hospitals? What about other people who work nights? Just wondering? Also it can be very intimidating for people to openly vote in their working place, while their supervisors are watching them, especially if they want to vote the opposite of their bosses. Lets face it the rank and file of the culinary union would probably vote Clinton, but maybe not if their bosses are watching them. They may be afraid of repercussions.. GO HILLARY!!!!

    January 18, 2008 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  5. Javier

    Latinos! Unite for Hillary!! She is our best hope.

    January 18, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  6. Carole

    Go HILLARY!!!

    January 18, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  7. joe

    so these are the voices that support a "uniter" - wow - not so convincing any more. obama lost my vote on this one - no more holier than though crap - he's the same as the rest and is going to have to take all the crap the rest have gotten.

    being african american is not going to make everything he does ok down the road. i was with him in the beginning - especially as a biracial man - but this is embarassing.

    January 18, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  8. Denise

    I find it funny that the "wheel tilters" are accusing the state teachers union of wanting to tilt the wheel. Nothing seems to be fair in any of these primaries.
    AND...............................................................................................................................................
    To you Republican fans thinking you should vote for these candidates running on the Regonomics coat tail? You need to remember just what Reganomics brought us in the 80's ..

    inflation...
    8-10% mortgage rates
    high unemployment
    a bear market for 10 years
    a big chunk of our tax dollars going to military.....for what????
    The worst debt in the history of the US ..(until Bush Jr)

    LOOK IT UP!!!! and tell me I am wrong......

    I will never understand why anyone would even think of having another republican in office again.....unless you are rich and think you need to be richer.

    January 18, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  9. Richard

    Obama is what this country needs. Someone brilliant in the white house. Hes got my vote.

    January 18, 2008 04:07 am at 4:07 am |
  10. charlotte

    I guess everything in Neveda is merely a roll of the dice. Thank goodness what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. This would be total chaos if it were done everywhere.

    January 18, 2008 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  11. Truethis

    What you're not getting Rose Marie. Hillary agreed for workers in those casinos to caucus there10 months ago but once the union endorse Obama they tried to change the rules. Sometime when you're not doing right God's eyes don't expect him to answers. Dirty Politic can take you so far.

    January 18, 2008 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  12. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    This will be a caucus stoled by the unions.

    As for this
    "The Obama campaign applauded the court's decision."

    Yeah, Obama loves dirty politics. What do you suppose he primonsed the Union in order to get their endorsement.

    Obama is a disgusting, corrupt human being and if elected to office will be just as hated as G.W Bush is today.

    January 18, 2008 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  13. AJ; Montpelier, VT

    "LAS VEGAS, 30 (UPI) - The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has launched an investigation of a Las Vegas federal judge, the Los Angeles Times said.

    The Times reported Saturday that U.S. District Judge James Mahan was specifically being scrutinized over allegations he failed to disclose personal ties to parties in cases involving monetary awards.

    Mahan, who joined the federal bench in 2002, had been the subject of an investigation by the newspaper last summer.

    Although investigations of federal judges by nature are confidential, the Times said two people "independently familiar with the matter said that a law firm hired by the 9th Circuit has scheduled interviews with key figures in the Mahan case."

    Mahan, who has denied any wrongdoing, was detailed in the Times' articles as having awarded fees in a dozen state and federal cases to a former client and business associate; he also reportedly awarded additional fees to his former law partner who still had ties to him and his family."

    Hmmmm...
    Crooked Judge -crooked candidate.

    Do you suppose Obama offered him a Supreme Court Nomination in return for this ruling?

    January 18, 2008 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  14. cyrille

    THIS IS UNFAIR!!!

    So the teachers can vote in their schools but the casinos are not allowed to vote in their casinos....This is double standard!!

    Thanks be to GOD!!! a Judge saw that as it is and made a courageous decision.

    To all the haters out there! u can hate Obama as long and deep as u want. But America ain´t stupid. It happened ONCE but this time we say NO....

    The United States of America ain´t a Kingdom!!! First king BILL then Queen Hillary.Let they go back where they come from...at least there ther´s a Kingdom. U.S.A is a free country.

    January 18, 2008 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  15. Tony, Enterprise, Alabama

    Before the next cycle of Democratic Caucuses and Primaries the DNC needs to make some changes.

    Caucuses need to be outlawed. Is this Democratic? Forcing workers at a jobsite to stand in clusters for the candidate they support while their supervisors, shop stewards and employers look on and support perhaps another candidate? How more intimidating can it get? The thought of losing one's job will trump any support a person has for a different candidate! This is absolutely NOT Democratic, and the Democratic Party should outlaw it. And then they want to count jobsite caucuses 5 times more than regular sites? Talk about a rigged election.

    One person, one vote, by secret ballot. Let's get back to Democracy.

    January 18, 2008 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  16. cyrille

    WHO IS RUNNING THIS RACE? BILL OR HILLARY? OR BOTH?

    People i went to a job interview today,i wanted to be hired as a pilot.
    When i was asked if i had previous job experience in flying planes;i said of course,since i´ve been married for 35 years to a pilot.

    Now u can see how stupid u sound everytime u talk about Clinton´s experience!!That´s NONSENSE!!

    My psychology professor used to say u can tell a lie to urself so ooften that u start to think this lie is a truth.
    Another tactic used in communication or marketing is to play / repeat a message or announcement on the air over and over again until people start liking it or believing it.

    ASk urself why is it that at the beginning i didn´t like that song but as they played it over and over on radioor tvs...i started to like it!!
    PLEASE DON´T GET PUNKED BY BILLARY CLINTON

    THAT GIRL HAS NOT MUCH EXPERIENCE AS OBAMA!! as a matter of fact, Obama has more exoerience than Clinton.

    Since i don´t want to punk u either,i will let u do ur own research!!!

    January 18, 2008 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  17. John G, New York, NY

    While I am a Democrat, I find this lawsuit embarrassing for a party which has fought vigorously to remove barriers to voting. Haven't we had enough of Republican attempts to deny the rights of people to vote – and have their votes counted (e.g. Florida in '00, Ohio in '04). We are a party of ENfranchisement, not DISenfranchisement. Let the people vote!

    January 18, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  18. Former Dem

    Alberto January 17, 2008 1:09 pm ET

    The world finally saw the real Bill Clinton. The man who has the best relations with the Bushs. The man who calls Obama revolution a fairytale. The man who lures black votes by lying to the minorities. The man who is he biggest liar and manipulator. The man who brought moral disgrace to US Presidency.
    To hell with the Clintons!
    ___
    I AGREE WITH ALBERTO. STOP WITH THE SUPPORTING BILLARY AND BUBBA CLINTON, CNN. I BET WOLF BLITZER IS BEHIND THIS BLATANT EFFORT TO GIVE BILLARY THE WHITE HOUSE AND MAKE IT LOOK DIRTY AGAIN.

    I WILL VOTE FOR OBAMA, JOHN EDWARDS, OR HUCKABEE. OTHERWISE, I STAY AT HOME. NO BILLARY FOR THIS FORMER DEMOCRAT.

    January 18, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  19. Former Dem

    Weez January 17, 2008 1:04 pm ET

    Every time CNN gives Bill Clinton 10 paragraphs to spout his opinions, you should also give Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Edwards an equal amount of space to voice theirs. I would much prefer to hear from honest, moral spouses…not someone who wagged his finger at me as he lied, then lied again under oath. It's beyond me why anyone would care what Bill Clinton says in his increasingly desperate attempt to spend eight more years in the White House.

    January 18, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  20. Jose Card - Independent

    It's outrageous for the Clintons to try to change the rules in the middle of the game.

    I would not believe that they had nothing to do with it.
    The couple plays soft and hard roles as needed in this game.
    The stakes are too high for them to lose.
    But we have a choice.
    Obama over Hillary!

    January 18, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  21. checkthisout

    LIKE IT OR NOT,
    When it comes to Voting, ILLEGAL ALIENS have more right than the Law abiding Citizens of this Country.
    In Fact, they are even PROTECTED and are ENCOURAGED to Vote by bringing the Polling Stations to their Work Places.

    VERY soon you will find that the Law abiding Citizens of this country are SECOND CLASS CITIZENS.!

    If the Courts can allow this for the DNC they should also allow this for the GOP.
    If it can be allowed in NEVADA, then allow it for ALL states.
    If it can be allowed for a certain trade, let it be available to ALL trades of low and middle income hard working people of this country.

    Can We Have A Fair Election ????????

    No Vote should be cast without Proof of CITIZENSHIP !!!!!!!!!!

    January 18, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  22. Tim Calhoun '08, Moreno Valley, CA

    The Clintons agreed to this long ago and they didn't seem to have a problem with it until Obama became a viable candidate with strong support. Once he got the endorsement of the Culinary Workers Union, they cried foul.

    After Obama's Iowa win, Clinton's camp dismissed the caucus approach and complained about the results. Now they're doing it again before the Nevada caucus even happens.

    When the Democratic party ruled to strip Michigan of its delegates for moving up their election date, most of the candidates removed their names from the ballot in accordance with the ruling...while Hillary left hers on.

    Anyone see a pattern emerging?

    When Obama lost New Hampshire, he retained his dignity and did not complain or contest the results. He cut his losses and moved forward.

    And in the end, that's really what this election comes down to: moving on and looking forward.

    Obama/Edwards '08.

    January 18, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
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