Las Vegas Sun

January 26, 2015

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Bill would replace presidential caucuses with primary elections

CARSON CITY — Nevada would be first state in the West to hold a presidential primary election, giving overseas military members a voice in choosing a candidate, under a bill introduced in the state Senate on Monday.

With the present system of choosing presidential nominees by caucus, military members serving overseas have no chance to participate.

Nevada last held a presidential primary election in 1996, when Republicans chose Sen. Bob Dole to be their candidate.

At present, Democrats and Republicans hold party caucuses with the delegates in attendance voting.

Under Senate Bill 212, each major political party could ask the Secretary of State to schedule a presidential primary. The election would be held only if more than one candidate is running.

The proposed primary election in Nevada would be held on the second-to-last Tuesday in January.

If one of the other 13 states in the West moved ahead of Nevada, the secretary of state would have the authority to move the primary election date to no earlier than Jan. 2. That would have to be ratified by the Legislative Commission.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said one drawback would be that state and local candidates would have to campaign longer if the election was held in January. Now, the state primary is scheduled for June.

Cosponsor Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said the present caucus system has not worked well.

The statewide primary election would be advanced only in presidential years, Settelmeyer said.

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  1. I prefer primaries, and understand why the Republican Party would like to change. The last Republican caucus was a like stacking the deck.

    Let the voter's decide and eliminate caucus decisions on the candidates.

  2. Who will pay for it? The state or the political parties?

  3. According to the text:

    "the cost of any presidential preference primary election is a charge against the State and must be paid from the Reserve for Statutory Contingency Account in the State General Fund."

    It also looks like it binds delegates to the election results. Currently, delegates can express a preference that differs from the election results. I seem to recall this was a big problem for the Nevada delegation at the GOP convention... a large number of whom wanted to vote for Ron Paul.

    Granted, this was written by the GOP, so it's clearly targeting the nightmare of the statewide GOP, but it's unfortunate this doesn't seem to seek to alter the state's closed caucus system.

    With our current closed caucuses, individuals who register as independent or nonpartisan are excluded from the process. If you're a registered independent and want to vote for, say, Sue Lowden over Sharron Angle, state law prohibits your participation in the process.

    They should amend the bill to open the primaries.

  4. Taxpayers should not have to pay for a purely party function. If there is to be a primary system it should be completely open to any candidates from any party. Here in washington we have an open primary....anyone can run with or without stated party preference and top two go on to the general election and any voter can participate. As proposed the Nevada primary looks to be a Republican idea to [a] avoid the FUBAR's they have presided over, [b] diminish the voice of the Tea Party wing and, [c] get taxpayers to pay.