66°F
weather icon Drizzle

Nevada’s political clout grows thanks to early presidential caucus

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Just a month after the midterm elections, dozens of Democrats trudged across New Hampshire to celebrate, and begin laying the groundwork for the 2020 presidential race.

With a large field of Democrats expected to seek the party’s nomination, all eyes will soon focus on states with presidential contests — Iowa and New Hampshire, and then South Carolina and Nevada, which has grown in stature and clout with its early position on the political calendar.

“Nevada is a key player,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., during an interview in Washington.

She said Nevada now helps set the field of potential White House hopefuls with its “first in the West” status.

Indeed. Many of the Democrats expected to launch a bid for the White House and challenge President Donald Trump helped stump for Democratic candidates in Nevada before the midterm election, like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker.

Booker was the only politician entertaining a presidential bid invited to the New Hampshire Democratic Party celebration in December, where he pitched his message of unity — two years before the presidential race.

He met with volunteers and grassroots Democrats who will be instrumental in a candidate’s run for the White House.

In New Hampshire, grassroots organizers and volunteers, in both major political parties, take their duty to help select a nominee seriously.

“I’ve only seen my fourth candidate,” said Susan Ladmer of Peterborough. By 2020, Ladmer said she will “have met every candidate.”

In 2016, Ladmer kicked the tires, so to speak, before she became part the steering committee for Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who lost the Democratic nomination to Hillary Clinton.

Nevada before Super Tuesday

Before the midterm, Booker was in New Hampshire and 24 other states, including Nevada, helping candidates and organizers turn out votes in the weeks before the election.

Other Democratic presidential hopefuls also trekked through Nevada, which is scheduled to hold its caucuses after New Hampshire and before the first Super Tuesday event, with delegate-rich California in the mix.

Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada are holding contests just weeks apart, and a visit by any politician is viewed as a sign of White House ambitions in 2020. It’s never too early in New Hampshire.

“Over the next year New Hampshire returns to the spotlight,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., told the state’s Democrats at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.

Shaheen said a candidate can’t just come into the state and spend millions of dollars on advertising and win. They have to meet and interact with voters. “We put the candidates through their paces.”

And the top candidates who emerge from Iowa and New Hampshire must then go to the first presidential contest in the West.

Nevada advanced its contests in 2008, a move engineered by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, to increase the state’s political clout.

Cortez Masto said candidates who survive Iowa and New Hampshire “have an opportunity in Nevada to make a difference and show they are ready to play on a national stage.”

Nevada has also seen the benefits of its early place on the calendar.

The state’s position in the presidential races has boosted turnout, Cortez Masto said, and placed a spotlight on local issues, like the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project.

If a candidate wants to win in Nevada, she said “they are going to have to be against Yucca Mountain.”

The state gives candidates a chance to speak to a population that resembles a microcosm of the country. Nevada has growing Latino and Asian communities, a significant African-American population, organized labor, urban, suburban and rural voters with varying degree of education.

“If you come into Nevada with a message that resonates with all those groups,” Cortez Masto said, then as a candidate you are positioned to speak to “the country no matter where you go.”

Organizing in Iowa, New Hampshire

Early organizing has largely been confined to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich appeared in New Hampshire just a week after the midterms. Kasich challenged Trump for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Trump is already raising millions for his re-election.

And a recent Granite State Poll by the University of New Hampshire, taken before the midterm election and the recent economic wobbles of Wall Street, found 83 percent of Republicans here approved of Trump.

Similarly, the poll showed Democrats disapprove of Trump. Overall, the poll showed 44 percent of state respondents approved of the president, 50 percent disapproved and 6 percent were unsure. The poll’s margin of error was plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

Democrats eyeing a run for president have started measuring support and organizing in the early states, with most candidates expected to make a decision on whether to run after the holidays.

Like New Hampshire and Iowa, Nevada saw several potential candidates before the midterm election.

In addition to Booker, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., former Housing Secretary Julian Castro of San Antonio and former Vice President Joe Biden, all campaigned for congressional Democrats and Rep. Jacky Rosen, the Democrat who dispatched incumbent GOP Sen. Dean Heller.

Early polls show Biden and Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, with the highest name recognition in Iowa.

Democratic field wide open

But for grassroots supporters in early states, like Ladmer in New Hampshire, the field is wide open. And after the success in November, Democrats see an opportunity.

During his speech to New Hampshire Democrats, Booker never mentioned the president by name, and his message was one of unity and support for each other to accomplish a greater good for all.

Booker told reporters later that he didn’t mention the president by name because he didn’t want the speech to be about Trump. And he reminded reporters that 50 million people voted for Trump for president, including “many of our” family members and friends.

“His supporters are good people,” Booker said.

A decision on whether to run for the presidency would be made after the holiday season, Booker said, but he was clearly buoyed by the opportunity to address Democratic grassroots activists who will be needed in a campaign.

For some Democrats, like Kevin Fleming, a high school teacher attending the event, the answer about a Booker candidacy was clear.

Fleming pointed out Jim Demers, one of former President Barack Obama’s campaign co-chairmen in the state. Demers escorted Booker to New Hampshire events over the weekend.

Fleming thought that a significant pairing, and he noted that Booker had a theme that was similar to the hope and change that Obama campaigned on in 2008.

After his speech to the New Hampshire Democrats, Booker said his message was that the “lines that divide us are no larger than the ties that bind us.”

“I want to pull this country back together,” Booker said.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Jurors hear opening statements in Reid personal injury trial
Opening statements were made on Tuesday in the product liability lawsuit brought by Harry Reid against against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Mayor Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels
Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels to seniors on March 26, 2019.
Las Vegas City Council Ward 1 race
Candidates for Las Vegas City Council Ward 1. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O’Rourke campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke addresses attendees during a campaign stop at Arandas Taqueria in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O'Rourke House Party in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke delivered a message of unity inside a Las Vegas living room Saturday night, outlining a mission to bridge the divide in a polarized America and rally behind “big defining ambitions that we have in common.” (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks at Atomic Liquors
Democrat presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks to her supporters at Atomic Liquors.
Presidential candidate Gillibrand meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys at her first stop in Nevada as a candidate Thursday, March 21, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto promotes the Rebuild America’s Schools Act
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., co-sponsor of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, speaks at Hoggard Elementary School in Las Vegas to promote the bill that would provide $100 billion for infrastructure improvements at schools across the country. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Scholar Max Eden on how restorative justice decreases student achievement - VIDEO
Across the country, restorative justice is lowering test scores and increasing the number of students who feel unsafe at schools. That’s according to Max Eden, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, who recently released a study discipline reform.
NV Dems Want To Gut Read By Three - Video
Nevada’s students have a major problem. They aren’t very good at reading. In 2017, just 31 percent of fourth graders were proficient at reading according to the National Assessment of Education Progress. The number proficient falls to 28 percent in eighth grade. Read by Three could change that. If a student can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade, he repeats the grade.
Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard stumps in Las Vegas
Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a meet and greet at the Asian Culture Center in downtown Las Vegas Monday, March 18, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nye County pushes back against state gun bill
Gun store owner Robby Brentlinger and John Koenig, Chairman of the Nye County Board of Commissioners, discuss their thoughts on gun rights and Nevada Senate Bill 143. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Atkinson pleads guilty
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge Monday.
Atkinson pleads guilty to wire fraud charges
U.S. Attorney’s Office announces plea deal for charges against former Nevada Senate majority leader Kelvin Atkinson during a press conference on Monday, March 11, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson pleads guilty
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson pleaded guilty to a federal wire fraud charge Monday, less than a week after resigning from his post. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Melania Trump Speaks Out About Opioid Epidemic - VIDEO
Melania Trump speaks at the Westgate hotel about the Opioid epidemic in the United State and how this generation can be the group that ends it.
Nevada Legislative Session Preview: Education, Yucca Mountain and Microchips
The Nevada Legislature will be meeting to look at new bills that involve education and marriage age restrictions. Governor Sisolak has also requested to meet with the White House about the plutonium shipments sent to Nevada.
Cortez Masto, Rosen For Infanticide - VIDEO
If an abortionist — armed with scissors, clamps and a vacuum cleaner — can’t kill a baby while she’s still in the womb, he shouldn’t get another chance after she’s born. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen disagree.
Abortion Bill Would Decriminalize Causing A Pregnant Woman To Miscarry - VIDEO
If abortion advocates believed their own rhetoric, they’d oppose the Trust Nevada Women Act.
Las Vegas city council candidate Diaz talks about Badlands, public safety and homelessness
The residents of Las Vegas’ Ward 3 aren’t thinking about the development issues surrounding Badlands golf course. They do, however, want more neighborhood police patrols to increase public safety. Other jurisdictions should help the City of Las Vegas with its growing homelessness population. That’s according to former Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz who’s running for the Ward 3 city council seat.
THE LATEST
Nevada Legislature gets first look at new schools funding plan

The Pupil-Centered Funding Plan, which was unveiled last week, calls for a complete rewrite of the state’s current funding formula.

AG Barr says nationwide rulings hamper president’s agenda

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William Barr is taking on another item from President Donald Trump’s agenda, railing against judges who issue rulings blocking nationwide policies.

House panel subpoenas Hope Hicks and counsel’s aide

It also subpoenaed Annie Donaldson, a top aide to former White House Counsel Donald McGahn, for documents and for questioning in a private deposition.