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Nevada Republicans caucus for presidential nominee — BLOG

Updated February 8, 2024 - 11:36 pm

In what was a slam dunk for former President Donald Trump, Nevada Republicans went to their nearby caucus locations Thursday evening to choose the party’s 2024 presidential nominee.

GOP front-runner Donald Trump, who had won with more than 99 percent of the votes as of 11:15 p.m., and long-shot candidate Ryan Binkley were on the ballot for the Nevada Republican Party’s caucuses, a long-anticipated process that for months has spurred much confusion for voters.

The caucuses took place two days after the state-run presidential preference primary, in which Republican voters chose “none of these candidates” since Trump was not on the primary ballot so that he could participate in the caucuses instead. The dueling nominating processes, however, created mass confusion and frustration among voters who were unsure whether they could participate in both, how to find their appropriate precinct location, and which process actually matters.

With candidates including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy and Chris Christie dropped out, Trump had already claimed victory of Nevada’s caucuses.

Nevada Republican Party leaders had expressed concerns that voter turnout would be lower than previously anticipated. Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald, a friend of Trump’s and one of Nevada’s so-called “fake electors,” hoped Nevada Republicans would use the caucuses as an opportunity to unite behind Trump and celebrate the former president’s win.

All precinct locations had a uniform start time of 5 p.m. on Thursday. Voters had to show their ID to vote, and paper ballots were used, although there was a drop-and-go feature for people to cast their vote and leave. Las Vegas Review-Journal staff members fanned out to various sites to get a sense of how the caucuses were going and how voters were feeling. They observed long lines, and in some cases, voters waited 90 minutes to cast their votes.

As the Nevada Republican Party expected, results began rolling out the same night, starting after 8 p.m.

This is what Review-Journal staff found as they talked with voters:

8:25 p.m.

Time’s up

Voting concluded at Tarkanian Middle School as election volunteers — many in Trump caps — began tallying the ballots. Minutes before, officials shouted asking if anyone had not voted. Only a few arms shot up.

— Ricardo Torres-Cortez

8:07 p.m.

Doors stay open past 8 p.m. at one caucus site for those in line

Voting continued at Tarkanian Middle School where the line had diminished significantly. A caucus staffer had told the Review-Journal that anyone who lined up before 7:30 p.m. was being allowed to cast a ballot.

— Ricardo Torres-Cortez

8:05.p.m

The Associated Press calls the Nevada GOP’s caucuses for Donald Trump.

7:45 p.m.

‘One-hundred-and-one percent, Trump

Dan Jordan, 60, of North Las Vegas is a 27-year military veteran.

And so it would only follow for Jordan to express military concerns upon exiting the caucus at His Word church.

“We can’t be the saviors in every battle,” Jordan said. “We can’t keep doling out money we don’t have.”

In addition to citing the need to get the military “back on track,” Jordan also sounded alarm over immigration issues.

“If you want to come here, that’s fine,” he said. “Go through the process and get vetted and whatnot.”

He also wasn’t particularly bullish on the Nevada caucuses following a primary just two days earlier.

“I guess it confused a lot of people,” he said. “Going forward, both the Democrats and Republicans should get out in front of this and explain what a primary and what a caucus is so they understand it.”

Jordan was far more enthused about his presidential candidate of choice, whom he gave pretty good odds of defeating the current president come November.

“One-hundred-and-one percent, Trump,” he said. “Negative two percent, Biden.”

6:20 p.m.

Frustration mounting at delays, growing lines

“They’re trying to screw us!” A man in a hoodie exclaims as concerns begin to mount that everyone waiting here at His Word church will be able to get inside and participate in the caucus by 7:30 p.m.

In the past 90 minutes, the long line has only grown longer still.

“To me, this is not right,” one waitee sighs.

“I just want to vote. That’s it.”

— Jason Bracelin

6:15 p.m.

‘We were safe’ under Trump

Longtime friends Victoria Arthur and Karleen Smith waited about 90 minutes to cast their votes for Trump.

Arthur said the process was messy, but likely due to a “massive of a turnout.”

“It could’ve been a lot faster process,” she added.

Both agreed that they would’ve preferred a single primary, and the Las Vegas women said they were worried about how the current administration has handled the border crisis, the economy, education, foreign wars and crime.

Smith said the influx of undocumented immigrants has stonewalled the country from taking care of its own, such as veterans.

Trump’s administration was “no nonsense, get it done; business,” Arthur said.

“We were running the country,” Smith added.

About Trump’s harsh demeanor, Arthur said: “We’re in agreement, too, that some of his comments, some of that stuff we can do without, but his decisions and his policies were spot on. We were “America First.”

Added Smith: “We were safe.”

— Ricardo Torres-Cortez

6:15 p.m.

‘When you can’t vote, it’s very disconcerting’

Margaret Watkins, a Las Vegas resident, said she tried to vote at Sandra Lee Thompson Elementary School but could not find a disabled parking space. She emailed the Review-Journal expressing her frustrations. “It’s very disappointing,” she said in a phone interview with the Review-Journal. She was going to vote for Trump, and while she understands he is going to win the caucuses anyway, “but it still makes me feel good knowing that I’m a part of the voting process and that I can add to his victory and his numbers. When you can’t vote it’s very disconcerting.”

— Jessica Hill

6:05 p.m.

Canadian immigrant has harsh words for Haley

It’s a snail race at Rogich Middle School this Caucus Thursday as Republican voters brave the cold to cast their votes.

But the Summerlin woman holding the “Trump 2024” sign that’s four times the length of her body and keeping spirits high isn’t even able to vote in the caucus.

Renee Nicholas, 53, is a Canadian who came to the U.S. legally in 1983.

With chants and hollers, Nicholas, “the Canadian who loves Donald Trump,” came out to motivate Trump supporters and assuage their discomfort with the long, cold wait.

“You know what?” she said to a voter next to her, “it’ll be shorter than Joe Biden being the president for the next four years!”

In 2024, securing the country’s borders and cracking down on illegal immigration is the most important issue at stake, she said.

“I came here legally,” Nicholas said. “Why shouldn’t everyone else have to be here legally?”

Nicholas finds it “hilarious” that Nikki Haley lost to “none of these candidates” in Tuesday’s primary, she said.

The fact that she declined to shell out the money to participate in the caucus is telling of Haley’s priorities. Nevada isn’t one of them.

“If she spent time in our state and really wanted to win it, she would have been here and have done the caucus.” Nicholas said.

— Alan Halaly

5:50 p.m.

Lines growing in chilly caucus evening

The long line continued to grow as caucus participants slowly began to trickle into Tarkanian Middle School.

Longtime neighbors and friends Donna Schafer and Kathy Sanucci braved the chilly evening near the back of the line.

Both said the caucus arrangement was confusing, with Sanucci noting that she trusted that the state party knew what it was doing.

They said their main concerns going into the likely November match between the president and the former president were the border crisis and that Trump would be kept off the ballot due to his legal tie ups.

“They’re trying to throw him in jail,” Schafer said.

Asked what they liked about Trump’s administration, Sanucci said that her 401K was “through the roof,” and Schafer liked that he kept his promises, she said.

Ricardo Torres-Cortez

5:25 p.m.

‘We’re going to get everyone in’

It’s so cold — and the line so long — at His Word church that a caucus worker in a white “Team Trump Captain” hat and American flag tuxedo T-shirt is telling the crowd that they can leave and come back as long as they return by 7 p.m.

“We’re going to get everyone in,” he promises. “It’s going to take a little time, just be patient.”

Patient they are: We’ve seen no one leave thus far. “Do not go home,” he urges. “Do not give up.”

— Jason Bracelin

5:25 p.m.

Large crowd raises concerns about 7 p.m. finish

Voters are getting antsy as the slow-moving line begins to wrap around Rogich Middle School. A 7 p.m. finish seems unlikely for the precinct.

“This is ridiculous!” one voter exclaimed upon arrival.

From the back of the line just before 5:30 p.m., Summerlin resident Terri Flanigan said she’d wait as long as need be to cast her vote for Trump.

Flanigan, 67, didn’t participate in Tuesday’s primary because it didn’t count for the delegate appropriation, she said.

She said she had to hound the Internet to get the right information about where and when to go.

“It was confusing,” she said. “I couldn’t find the answer to my questions until I Googled it 72 different ways.”

— Alan Halaly

5:15 p.m.

Turnout described as ‘phenomenal’

At 4:50 p.m., the line toward the Tarkanian Middle School cafeteria snaked to the facilities parking lot as people of all ages — and even a puppy — waited to participate in the caucus. Trump signage and American flags were visible throughout.

At 5 p.m., Precinct Captain Francine Scolaro was going to caucus for Trump, noting that the border crisis, globalism and what she described as the indoctrination of children at schools were her main concerns.

Scolaro projected a Biden and Trump November election, and believes the former president will be victorious.

“We’re excited about the caucus and the turnout is phenomenal,” she said.

Scolaro, a 33-year Las Vegas resident from New York, said the caucus, instead of the state’s primary, was most important because the caucus will provide the delegates.

“He’s lucid,” she said about Trump, “and he’s intelligent, and he can hold a sentence.”She added: “That’s wonderful.

Fifteen minutes later, loud chants of U.S.A broke out as the crowd waited for doors to open.

— Ricardo Torres-Cortez

5 p.m.

‘Outperforming’

Las Vegas Review-Journal reporters and photographers are not allowed inside the caucus locations, but have been talking with voters outside about how they’re feeling.

Clark County Republican Party Chairman Jesse Law told the Review-Journal at the party’s “war room” in Summerlin that more voters were coming out than he had anticipated, and their initial projections of voter participation were off.

Before 5 p.m., a line was out the door at Sig Rogich Middle School, which Law had not expected. He said they were “outperforming,” and he will likely have to bring more ballots to the location.

— Jessica Hill

4:55 p.m.

Spirited crowd eager to participate in caucus

“It warms my heart to see this crowd,” a man notes as he eyes a line 200 strong outside His World Church as caucus-goers assemble. That’s about the only thing warm on this night — that and the fiery support for Donald Trump.

“Yeah, MAGA baby!” A woman exclaims upon getting into said line.

“Keep America deplorable again!” a man in a Carhartt jacket bellows as he too joins the fray.

“Is this the Biden victory rally?” a man in shades quips. “He’s just trying to start a riot,” his female companion smiles. Jokes are also made at Nikki Haley’s expense.

“She’s saying this is rigged,” a woman notes of tonight’s caucus. “Yeah, it’s rigged,” a man sneers in response.”

They seem eager to get inside and demonstrate otherwise.

— Jason Bracelin

4:45 p.m.

Trump support strong at Boulder City caucus site

There were two statements that were true of every person we spoke to outside of the GOP Caucus in Boulder City: All were supporters of former president Donald Trump, and all had also voted for the None of These Candidates option in Tuesday’s primary. When asked if she voted for the None of These Candidates option, Tracey Wolpert replied, “Of course.”

A supporter of former president Donald Trump, she said she had not had a great deal of difficulty navigating the competing primary and caucus but was not sure that was the case for everyone. “It was a little bit confusing,” she said. “But if you took the time to cross the T’s and I’s and follow the the dots down you could find the information. But I don’t think it was readily available for the average person who doesn’t that much time looking in to this kind of thing.”

She has high hopes for a potential second term for the former president. When asked what she thought he would be able to accomplish, she answered, “I think he’s gonna drain the swamp, baby. There’s a lot of corruption and evil going on in D.C. and it’s been going on for a long time —both sides, Republicans and Democrats. It’s pretty much a cesspool there and they all just work together to keep themselves in power. They’re all millionaires and they started out with basically nothing. It’s full of fraud, and I think he is going to clean house and get us back on the right track.”

— Bill Evans

4:45 p.m.

Reno caucusgoers enthusiastically support Trump

Bebe Carrico and her husband, David, were a few of the early birds on the Reno caucus site. They were both at the site to support Trump.

They did not have a hard time getting to the location, but Bebe Carrico in particular voiced her opinion on why it was necessary for her to be there today: “We heard Trump himself said in a speech in Las Vegas, don’t even bother to go Feb. 6, it will not even count, but Feb. 8, yes, in regards to voting for Trump. We think he is the best president that has ever been, and I am 77, so I have seen some presidents in my time.”

Marcus Penergrass thinks that a lot of people were able to stay informed about the caucus happening but people in charge could have still done a better job in improving voter education.

When asked about the most important issues facing Nevadans, he said, “maybe just the room for expanding since we are getting so many new people. I feel like maybe our infrastructure can’t handle that just because of where we are situated, I know they are trying but it doesn’t seem like it is really helping.”

Penergrass is not apprehensive in proclaiming whom he is supporting: “I’m a Trump fan. I have been from the beginning.”

— Madison Wanco

4:40 p.m.

Protest vote for Binkley

On his way into Sig Rogich Middle School, Summerlin voter Nick Bossing said he no longer feels Trump is a viable candidate for president.

The 46-year-old said he cast his vote for entrepreneur Ryan Binkley Thursday and for “none of these candidates” in the primary Tuesday.

Bossing’s first choice would have been Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out of the race last month, he said.

“It was a protest vote,” Bossing said.

Anyone over the age of 75 shouldn’t be president, he said. The lack of younger options, Bossing said, is putting the country in a precarious situation.

The confusing caucus-primary duo the Nevada GOP decided on is designed to tip the scale in favor of Trump, Bossing said. It was meant to be confusing to voters.

“That was the purpose of it,” he said. “They have ‘good old boy’-ed the whole system.”

— Alan Halaly

4:30 p.m.

‘Let’s go, Trump!’

The parking lot was full at Sig Rogich Middle School in Summerlin in the early afternoon, packed with cars adorned with Trump 2024 stickers and other MAGA regalia.

“Let’s go, Trump!” a staff member shouted at the Republicans filing in as she left for the day, telling someone on the phone about how full the lot was.

This isn’t the first caucus that Patrick Denison, 60, has participated in. He has been a Nevada Republican since the Obama administration.

The Trump-supporter and Summerlin resident proudly cast his vote for “none of the above” in Tuesday’s primary in an effort to show opposition to Haley, he said.

Securing the border between the U.S. and Mexico and dealing with inflation remain the most pressing issues this election cycle, he said.

Looking ahead to a possible Trump-Biden general election, Denison said he finds Trump to be more well-spoken and mentally fit for the presidency.

“It’s night and day between the two,” Denison said of the two politicians. “Biden can’t even put a sentence together and slurs his words.”

— Alan Halaly

4:30 p.m.

Small gathering in Reno ahead of caucus

Arriving on location of the caucus site at Swope Middle School in Reno around 4 p.m. was not a problem. There was no traffic at this time and there was only a small gathering of people. The signs on the doors read “doors open at 5 p.m.” is bold and followed by “thank you for your patience”

— Madison Wanco

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