For lifelong Republican Gregg Taylor, he felt his party left him behind the minute Donald Trump came down the escalator and announced he was running for president. Since then he has been searching for a new group to call home, the North Las Vegas resident said.
He thinks he found it in Forward, a third party that aligns itself more in the center of the political spectrum and is seeking party designation in the Silver State.
“I think more and more people are looking at the parties as not fulfilling them, and so they’re choosing not to participate,” Taylor said. “I think what the Forward Party wants to do is grab those folks and bring that participation in.”
The Forward Party got its start in 2022 when Andrew Yang, a businessman who ran for president as a Democrat in 2020, and former Republican New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman joined forces to form a new, centrist party to give Americans more choices in elections.
It has since worked to carve out a niche on national and local political stages.
The group is focusing its efforts in Nevada on collecting more than 10,000 signatures to qualify as a political party in the Silver State. If successful, it will be the second minor party to gain ballot access since the 1970s.
The signature petition must be filed with the secretary of state’s office in June to qualify for the 2024 ballot, according to state law.
“People realize that the status quo is not working,” Yang told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview. “And the question is, how are we going to do better?”
With backing candidates for local and state elections — from school board to state Assembly — the party will work to promote the “Yes on 3” campaign, the ballot initiative that would implement ranked-choice voting and a nonpartisan primary system.
The initiative passed in 2022 but needs voter approval again in 2024 to take effect in 2026. The proposal would not only allow Nevada’s growing nonpartisan electorate to participate in primaries, it also would give third-party candidates —such as those from Forward— a better chance of winning an election.
For the 40 percent of Nevada voters who don’t identify as a Republican or Democrat, “this may be a way for you to actually be represented,” Yang said.
“The Forward Party wants to deliver what it is that Nevadans actually want to see in their communities,” Yang said. His party is not beholden to the left or right wings of the party, he said, nor to special interest groups.
“If you have a system where everyone’s vote counts, then your leaders will be more responsive to you,” he said. “And that’s the goal of the Forward Party, is to deliver that.
Forward is not the only third party to seek ballot access in the Silver State. No Labels recently received party designation after collecting more than 19,000 valid signatures. The two groups differ in that Forward is focusing on local elections and improvements to the political system, while No Labels is participating in the 2024 presidential race, Yang said.
The party is interested in backing problem-solving candidates at the local level, such as school board and city council, to state level races, he said. For instance, Forward is backing Taylor, a candidate for state Senate in District 1 who is running as a Forwardist in 2024.
Taylor likes that Forward focuses on local elections and allows candidates to develop their own platform. As a Republican or a Democrat, if someone from the other side has a good idea, the other has to block it out, Taylor said.
“In this environment, we can take the best ideas and really deal with the constituents and not have to listen to the party tell us what we’ve got to do,” he said.
Reno resident Gamaliel Zavala Enriquez also finds Forward a good option for Nevada. He thinks the party is grassroots-oriented and does not take a particular agenda from the national level.
“The Forward Party is very much about putting humanity at the center of everything that is done,” he said.