Nevada Democrats announce presidential caucuses for Jan. 14

The Nevada Democratic Party on Tuesday announced the party will hold its presidential caucuses on Jan. 14, the same day as the state’s Republicans.

The move gives the Nevada Republican Party support in holding firm on the date despite requests from the New Hampshire secretary of state to move the Silver State’s vote to later in January. That way, the Granite State could hold its first-in-the-nation primary on Jan. 10 and have a one-week window between the two states.

Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said that for now, the GOP is sticking with the Jan. 14 caucus date. She said she is continuing to discuss the matter with party leaders, including GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Republican National Committee. She also seemed to suggest for the first time that there might be wiggle room.

"As of today we are on the 14th," Tarkanian said in an interview after touring the CNN debate hall. "As of today."

The state party has a meeting planned for this Saturday to discuss caucus matters, including the date and whether to allow same-day registration.

Nevada Democratic Party Chairwoman Roberta Lange said it’s important for the state to hold the first presidential caucuses in the West and to hold the third national vote behind the traditional first-up Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Nevada won the sanctioned early voting spot in 2008, and the spotlight helped the party register 100,000 Democrats and propel President Barack Obama to the White House with a general election victory here.

"We worked too hard to secure Nevada’s early-state status to allow Florida to take that away from us," Lange said in a statement. "Therefore, we are joining the fight to ensure Nevada is one of the first three early voting states by setting the date of our Democratic caucuses on January 14, 2012."

Lange said Democrats already know who their nominee will be — Obama, who is seeking re-election — and so the party will use the caucuses as an organizing tool to ensure he wins again in Nevada, a battleground state that is no guaranteed victory for the president in 2012. She also said the party meetings will help Democrat U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley’s shot at the Senate against Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, appointed to complete U.S. Sen. John Ensign’s term.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., was the key figure behind the successful effort to make Nevada an early voting state. Boosting the party also helped his own re-election campaign in 2010, when his Democratic machine ran over his challenger, Republican Sharron Angle.

Reid said he hoped setting the Democratic caucuses for Jan. 14 would help Nevada Republicans stand firm on the date.

"I applaud the Nevada State Democratic Party for taking this decisive step to join in the fight to protect Nevada’s early vote status," Reid said in a statement. "After working so hard to ensure our state plays a key role in presidential elections, I hope today’s announcement will strengthen the resolve of those under pressure to place that status in jeopardy."

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal. com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj.

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