Nevada GOP not moving caucuses
October 15th, 2011
11:04 AM ET
11 years ago

Nevada GOP not moving caucuses

Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) - Nevada Republicans aren't budging.

"We're going to stick to our date," Nevada Republican Party chairwoman Amy Tarkanian told CNN Saturday morning, when asked if she would consider moving the party's scheduled caucus date of January 14.

"It's not on the table. The executive board, and myself, are sticking to our date," Tarkanian told CNN's TJ Holmes, in an interview at the Venetian Las Vegas, the site of next Tuesday's Republican presidential debate being put on by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference.

Nevada is locked in a political scheduling fight with New Hampshire, the state that for decades has held the first-in-the-nation primary. State law requires that New Hampshire's primary be held at least one week before a similar contest, and New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner has said the Nevada caucuses are similar events.

Iowa has not officially scheduled its caucuses, which traditionally kick of the primary and caucus calendar, but it is widely expected they will be held on January 3, which would box the Granite State in and could force Gardner to follow through on his threat to push New Hampshire's primary to early or mid December.

"The New Hampshire GOP has been fantastic, very supportive. It's the secretary of state who has the end say. We reached out to him and he did not return our calls," says Tarkanian.

CNN has reached out to the New Hampshire secretary of state for comment, but has yet to hear back.

"He said he was going to wait on us. So that's what we did. We picked our date," added Tarkanian, who said the Nevada GOP had several conversations with their New Hampshire counterparts.

"They didn't inform us until it was too late. I don't think it would be fair of us to move again."

Five GOP presidential candidates say they will boycott Nevada's caucuses if the date is not altered to accommodate New Hampshire. The five candidates are Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, businessman and former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. and former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

Huntsman is going a step further by skipping Tuesday's debate. It is another sign he's focusing his campaign on victory in New Hampshire, a make-or-break contest for him in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination.

Saturday, Santorum's team postponed nearly all of his scheduled campaign events in Nevada next week, but said he will take part in the Western Republican Presidential debate.

"While Senator Santorum appreciates the hospitality of the people of Nevada, he is concerned that Nevada's decision encroaches on Iowa and New Hampshire's election calendar and may push them into the Christmas season," said Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley.

Gidley added that if Nevada refuses to move its date, Santorum will not campaign in the state until after the caucus.

"I hope they change their minds," said Tarkanian, when asked about the possible boycott by the five GOP presidential candidates.

The mad dash to move up the primary and caucus dates was triggered by Florida's announcement two weeks ago that they would hold their primary on Jan. 31. The four states designated by the Republican and Democratic parties to vote first in the race for the White House, Iowa, New Hamsphire, Nevada and South Carolina, all vowed to move their dates up to keep their early status. South Carolina announced that they would hold their primary on Jan. 21 just days before Nevada announced their date.

"We want to have ours on a Saturday, since its a caucus, not a primary," said Tarkanian.

But Iowa, for decades, has held their first in the nation caucus during the week.

Tim Williams, political director for the GOP in Clark County, Nevada's most populous county, says when it comes to logistics, the caucus can be moved, as long as a new date is decided soon.

"It can be done," Williams told CNN, saying that "the main problem is the membership, that they stay involved and know when the date's going to be."

"When we started a couple of months ago to plan for the caucus, we actually set a date at the end of December when we wanted all the planning and logistical stuff done," adds Williams.

–CNN Senior Political Editor Mark Preston contributed to this story

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @PSteinhauserCNN

Filed under: 2012 • Nevada
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. jim1963

    They can't work with their own people how can we expect them to run a country. This is not the republican party I knew when I was growing up. I am so glad my parents have seen this and left them in the rear view mirror. They voted for Bush in 2000 but he started them thinking and now they hate anything republican.
    Even at 80 years old they think the republicans have turned into a terrorist organization.

    October 15, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  2. portland tony

    I'm fairly sure your backup of 80% of the military is off base. So take your 2nd amendment out to the firing range and rip off about 20 clips. Then go have a few cold ones and relax knowing no one gonna stuff you in an oven for speaking your mind!

    October 15, 2011 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  3. Kyle

    Hate to break it to you silly liberals, but the Democrats went through the same exact thing four years ago. Google it if you don't believe me – you may find something interesting when you actually examine the facts.

    And hey – did you see how well Herman Cain is doing in the polls? It must be because of those racist Tea Party Republicans. Oh...wait a minute...

    October 15, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why must they be first? I think that it is just ego and not an understanding of history and tradition.

    October 15, 2011 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  5. Donkey Party

    To Doug –

    Pray the FBI finds you before I do, you delusional right-wing shlt4brains. I'm a combat veteran, and in my 5 years of active service, I met only a handful of Republican service members. But go ahead and believe your own lies, and go burn in hell for your comment about ovens, you sick sociopath.

    October 16, 2011 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
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