Opinion: The Nevada caucuses may be closer than you think


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Like, about a week closer.

This isn’t widely known yet, but Democratic and Republican officials in Nevada are now looking at moving the state’s Jan. 19 caucus up a week to Jan. 12, a decision that would be predicated upon decisions over the next couple of weeks by New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina.

Best to take notes here in pencil, not pen, because everything keeps changing.

Nevada is one of four states to which the Democratic National Committee gave its blessing to hold nominating contests before Feb. 5, when the door opens for the other states. As has been well-reported, Florida and Michigan are trying to make like Oklahoma settlers (as in, moving too soon).


As it stands, the Iowa caucuses are scheduled for Jan. 14, followed by the Michigan primary on Jan. 15, Nevada’s caucuses and the South Carolina Republican primary on Jan. 19, and the Florida primary and South Carolina Democratic primary on Jan. 29, according to the National Association of Secretaries of State. New Hampshire has yet to set its date, though the DNC has pegged it at Jan. 22 -- after Michigan’s new date. The DNC has threatened to not seat delegates from Michigan and Florida if they maintain their unsanctioned dates, but so far the thumbs are on the noses.

We should note that the Wyoming Republicans are set to hold a primary Jan. 5, but it’s unclear whether the candidates will be competing in it. A candidate forum last week drew only Fred Thompson, Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter.

New Hampshire state law, though, requires the state to hold the nation’s first primary, and South Carolina has vowed to be first in the South. So expect both those states to move their votes up. And when they do, Iowa and Nevada will look to move up, too, to keep their places among the sanctioned first four.

‘That’s where we were placed to begin with, and we’re not willing to give that up,’ said Jean Hessberg, the Iowa veteran overseeing Nevada’s Democratic caucus. ‘We’re always looking out for Nevada’s best interests, and if that means being nimble, then that certainly is under discussion.’

Nevada Republicans, who moved their primary up to match the state’s Democrats, are in the same boat. ‘No final decisions have been made, but it’s something we’re taking a hard look at,’ said Hans Gullickson, who is running the Republican caucus. ‘We’re going to keep evaluating.’

The likely dates to get this party started: Iowa is looking at Jan. 3 or Jan. 5, with New Hampshire likely to go Jan. 8. That will apparently draw Nevada to Jan. 12, and South Carolina at a date TBA.

-- Scott Martelle