(Chuck Muth) – Nevada Republicans are scheduled meet in Fallon this weekend. A critical issue to be discussed will be the 2012 presidential caucus. As such, opportunity is knocking; will the party open the door…or nail it shut?
Fortunately, thanks almost entirely to Harry Reid, Nevada will remain one of only four approved early caucus states in the next presidential race. However, the Democrats probably won’t have a serious presidential primary contest while Republicans can expect at least a dozen serious competitors – possibly including Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Haley Barbour, Gary Johnson, George Pataki, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, John Thune and Tim Pawlenty.
Oh, and of course, Ron Paul.
Which means if the GOP here plays its cards right, it can use the 2012 presidential caucus to organize and recruit volunteers exactly the way the Democrats did in 2008. It also means Nevada should be a regular stop for all of the GOP wannabes, and maybe even the host site for a major debate. Unless…
Unless it does the same thing it did in 2008 and doesn’t reward any convention delegates to the winner of the Nevada caucus.
The Nevada Republican presidential caucus in 2008 amounted to nothing more than a beauty contest due to fear of sanctions by the national party. No delegates were awarded to the winner of the caucus, Mitt Romney. Instead, convention delegates weren’t actually selected until the Nevada GOP convention in Reno almost 2 months later. And we all know how that turned out.
The fact that no delegates were awarded to the winner of the caucus was the reason almost none of the Republican candidates in 2008 spent any significant time in Nevada. Which makes sense. Why devote time, energy and money campaigning in a state where you win nothing more than “bragging rights”?
If you campaigned in and won Iowa, you won 25 delegates to the national convention.
If you campaigned in and won New Hampshire, you won 19 delegates to the national convention.
If you campaigned in and won South Carolina, you won 45 delegates to the national convention.
But if you campaigned in Nevada and won….you got doodley-squat. Zip. Zero. Nada.
If Nevada once again refuses to award its 25 delegates to the national convention in 2012, why, oh why, would any presidential campaign waste its time coming out to Nevada?
And as a side note, unlike in 2008, Nevada will be officially recognized as an early-voting state, meaning we can hold our presidential caucus in February without risking sanctions from the Republican National Committee (RNC).
Now, from what I’m hearing, Republicans at the Fallon meeting may very well punt the decision on whether or not to award delegates to the caucus winner until their following meeting in Carson City, probably next March or April.
The problem with that is that the presidential campaigns are ALREADY lining up their calendars and schedules. So even though some of the candidates could start coming here as early as next month, they’ll instead likely wait until next spring to see what the party is going to do about the caucus delegates if the party doesn’t make an affirmative decision this weekend.
By the way, the party need not seal in cement all of the rules and procedures for holding a “winner take all” caucus in February 2012; it simply needs to declare, in no uncertain terms, that the winner of the Nevada caucus will get Nevada’s 25 delegates to the national convention – rules and details to be determined later.
That’ll immediately open the floodgates of potential GOP presidential candidate visits – which, in turn, will result in immediate grassroots campaign organizing – which, in addition, will result in immediate debate preparations and proposals.
And by the way, if the Nevada GOP does this right, in addition to declaring that Nevada will be a winner-take-all caucus it should also declare that it will be holding a special “straw poll” presidential preference convention in September 2011 in which attendees (or their sponsoring presidential campaigns) will pay, say, $25 each to attend and cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice.
Indeed, they might even contract with the SEIU to set up remote “straw poll” locations using electronic voting machines at satellite locations around the state!
Just kidding. About the SEIU, not the satellite straw polling.
In any event, not only would this increase the need for the presidential campaigns to develop a ground operation here and visit the state on a regular basis (some of them have already been going to Iowa and New Hampshire for months now), but the straw poll could raise some serious dough for the Nevada GOP.
If the party can get 10,000 people to participate – absolutely doable if done and marketed correctly – that’d be a cool quarter-million dollars to help underwrite the party’s staff and operations for the entire year leading up to the general election.
But none of this happens unless the Nevada GOP adopts and declares a winner-take-all caucus this weekend.
But couldn’t that result in Ron Paul winning the caucus, as many party regulars fear? Sure could. But as they say in sports, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Is the Nevada Republican Party really prepared to risk blowing this major opportunity simply because they’re afraid the Ron Paul folks might win?
Probably. Remember, only Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is more immutable than the Theory of Republicans Never Blowing an Opportunity to Blow an Opportunity.