Nevada GOP caucus still on Jan. 19


CARSON CITY -- There are no plans to change the date of Nevada's GOP caucus because of the action Thursday in South Carolina to move its Republican primary date to Jan. 19, said Zachary Moyle, executive director of the state Republican Party.

Now that South Carolina has moved its primary to the same date as Nevada's caucus, the other early primary and caucus states of Iowa and New Hampshire are expected to make their own moves, creating a domino effect that will have to shake out before Republicans here react in any way, he said.

"We're not planning on moving right now," Moyle said. "After the dominos fall, we will take a look."

The change is expected to make Nevada tied for third in the nominating process rather than alone in second place.

But Republican candidates probably will continue to visit Nevada even with the change by South Carolina to the same date because Nevada is a state where a candidate's commitment of time and money can make a difference, Moyle said.

"If you look at those three early states, each race is shaping up differently," he said. "Candidates will look for somewhere else to play. Why not come out to Nevada and make a valiant effort in state that is diverse and wide open."

Major candidates have visited Nevada the past two years, and that shouldn't change, Moyle said.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson said his only concern in moving to Jan. 19 from Feb. 2 was ensuring that his state remained as the first southern primary state, and that he did not intend to harm Nevada's caucus efforts in any way.

"We do not want to harm our friends in Nevada, but we think it is important to remain first in the South," he said.

Dawson said he knew Nevada Democrats had picked Jan. 19, but acknowledged he did not realize the Nevada GOP had picked the same day for its caucus.

Nevada Democratic Party Chairwoman Jill Derby said the change by the GOP in South Carolina would have no effect on her party's plans.

"The decision by South Carolina's Republicans to hold their primary on Jan. 19 will not diminish the Nevada Democratic caucuses in any way," she said. "I will not speculate about what other states will do, but we intend to preserve Nevada's role in the early nominating calendar."

The South Carolina move provokes a dramatic shift in the nominating calendar and could mean the first votes are cast in December.

New Hampshire is sure to follow suit to protect its first-in-the-nation primary status, and Iowa, home to the leadoff caucuses, left little doubt it would do whatever necessary to ensure it kicks off the nominating process as it has for three decades.

"Iowa will go first, that is the bottom line," Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, said Thursday.

The ever-changing contest schedule -- and the earlier start to the balloting -- has created an enormous level of discomfort for national parties trying to impose discipline on the states as well as presidential campaigns trying to figure out strategies when voting could begin in just four months.

"Not only is this unprecedented, what's also unprecedented is the number of journalists who could spend Thanksgiving in Iowa and Christmas in New Hampshire," said Ken Mehlman, a former Republican National Committee chairman and President Bush's 2004 campaign manager.

Given South Carolina's change, New Hampshire will be forced by state law to move its primary to at least Jan. 12. Iowa then would have to, according to its law, shift its leadoff caucuses, perhaps to as early as mid-December.

"What all the campaigns are struggling with, grappling with, is how do you build a campaign with this accelerated schedule?" said Steve Duprey, a former New Hampshire GOP chairman who now is a top adviser to Sen. John McCain. "The challenge for all campaigns is how to set the pace of the campaign, particularly with your paid media so you have the impact."

In separate statements, aides to Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney and McCain suggested they wouldn't let the evolving calendar ruffle them.

Matt Rhoades, a Romney spokesman, said: "We can't control the primary calendar but respect the process and intend to continue to run our current campaign strategy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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