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POLITICAL EYE: Republicans decentralize local caucuses

When Nevada Republicans come together on Feb. 4 to pick their favorite presidential candidate, they won't all hold party caucuses at the same time or in the same way.

In Clark County, for example, Republicans will attend precinct meetings in three rotating shifts to accommodate 30,000 to 50,000 people expected at 29 schools selected as caucus sites. The meetings probably will start at 9 a.m., with a second round at 11 a.m. and a third starting at 1 p.m.

In Carson City, Republicans will be allowed to "vote and go" as early as 7 a.m. -- pretty much as if it were a primary in which voters pick a candidate at the ballot box, according to a state party official.

Carson Republicans then will hold their regular caucus from noon to 3 p.m. to take care of all the business of the day: choosing delegates to the convention, approving the party platform and then holding a presidential preference poll to choose their favorite GOP candidates.

In Nevada's 15 other counties -- including Washoe -- Republicans are planning typical caucus meetings that could last several hours, most scheduled to start between 9 a.m. and noon.

The differing plans are the result of a Nevada Republican Party decision to let each county determine its own rules as long as voting results and delegate lists get to the state party by evening.

Tim Williams, the political director of the Clark County Republican Party, said that could mean the final caucus tallies from all precincts might not be available until about 7 p.m.

That is when Mitt Romney will find out whether his campaign machine in Nevada did its job, delivering what he hopes is his second GOP caucus victory, four years after his 2008 win here. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas finished second four years ago and is hoping for an upset.

No other Republican contenders have a ground game going, although those with money -- such as Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- or with momentum -- such as Newt Gingrich -- could quickly throw resources into the state if they do well in January voting in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.

"I hope we actually have a battle so we can watch it unfold," Williams said.


Williams said he expects the Nevada caucus process won't be as "confusing and crazy" as in 2008 when Republicans and Democrats met at the same sites. This time, Democrats are holding their party caucuses on Jan. 21, essentially to organize for President Barack Obama's re-election.

Four years ago, the Republicans did little training of volunteers and caucus participants ahead of the meetings, adding to the chaos, said Williams, a site manager last time.

This time, Clark County Republicans launched a website -- www.ccrp2012caucus.org -- to provide information about the caucus, training opportunities and meeting places. The GOP is starting to assign specific precincts to schools so Republicans know where to go before Feb. 4.

"I imagine it's going to be a little crazy this time around just because of the sheer number of people we expect, but it's not going to be like last time," Williams said. "It was just chaos."

Williams said 300 volunteers have been trained so far to help manage Clark County caucus sites, and he would like to train twice that. Another 400 caucus chairs have been trained to run the meetings.

Training is set to kick into high gear in January after the holidays in Clark County and across the state, according to GOP officials who traveled last week to several counties to push things along.

Because Nevada is relatively new at holding caucuses, many people don't know how it works. In 2008, 44,000 Republicans participated, and that could as much as double in 2012.

Only registered voters can get involved in the meetings with the deadline to register Jan. 21, two weeks before the caucus. Participants meet with people from their same precinct, or election area -- information that will be available on the GOP caucus website and from local election officials.

During the meeting, delegates to the county party convention are voted on, and participants discuss the party's platform, which lays out the major issues and beliefs.

Supporters of the presidential candidates can speak for two minutes each to promote their favorites. And then the preference poll is taken before the meeting breaks up.

"I don't even think it will take two hours" if all goes well, Williams said.

In the end, Nevada delegates will be awarded on a proportional basis, meaning if a candidate gets 50 percent of the vote, he or she will get 50 percent of the 28 delegates to the national GOP convention.


State and county GOP officials said this is the proposed meeting schedule:

Carson: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Clark: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Douglas: noon to 3 p.m.

Churchill, Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Pershing and White Pine: 9 a.m. to noon.

Storey: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Washoe: 10 a.m. to noon.

--Laura Myers


A group of University of Nevada, Reno, graduate students who gathered in bull sessions to complain about the government have decided to do something about their complaints. They created a new political party and approved pages and pages of principles to guide its followers.

The DuoFreedomist Party was formally registered Tuesday by the secretary of state as a political party in Nevada. Its founders contend their party is based on reason and analysis of issues, not by political ideology.

It calls for a 40 percent cap on all taxes, federal, state and local. And it proposes a 2 percent tax in Nevada for the support of nonunion public schools. Members also want to give college athletes 60 percent of the net income earned by their athletic departments. They also want to close more of America's military bases around the world.

Their most unusual proposal, however, may be one to move the national capital closer to the center of continent and at least 50 miles from any existing cities. The cornfields of southern Illinois and the Rio Grande National Forest are two of the places they eye.

In their platform, the DuoFreedomists state: "Clean up Congress! Sweep Out both parties! Put in some fresh blood and reformers from outside the two parties! Let us all stop electing lawyers, boycott lobbyists, and throw out Wall Street control."

Co-chairs are Raymond Avansino and Jared Forest. For information about the new party, visit the website: www.duofreedomist.com.

-- Ed Vogel

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow her on Twitter @lmyerslvrj. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900.

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