Presidential candidates thinking big think Elko

It’s not easy to get to Elko.

Since a flight from the North Las Vegas airport was canceled last year, the only commercial flight to the northeastern Nevada town is from Salt Lake City. Residents of Reno or Las Vegas must drive four or seven hours, respectively.

The isolation ensures that the town of 18,000 doesn’t get a lot of visitors. But politicians can take chartered planes and private jets — and a lot of them are finding their way to Elko lately.

Last month, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson reportedly became the first Democratic presidential candidate to visit Elko in 50 years.

In April, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona made Elko one of five stops on his official presidential announcement tour.

Today, Democratic Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois will campaign in Elko as part of a tour of rural America.

Next week, Republican Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, makes his first campaign visit to Nevada — with a trip to Elko.

Why so much bipartisan love for this mining-based community, when all of Elko County makes up less than 2 percent of Nevada’s population? Should Clark County, home to 70 percent of Nevadans, be jealous?

The idea behind the Elko visits, analysts say, is for candidates to show Nevadans that they’re crisscrossing the state — that they know there’s more to the Silver State than just Las Vegas and Reno.

“Most of the visits, especially by the Democrats, outside the main population centers are symbolic,” said University of Nevada, Reno political scientist Eric Herzik. “There aren’t a lot of voters in the rural counties, and there are very few Democratic voters. But it (visiting the rurals) shows an element of openness — that they’re willing to listen to any group, anywhere.”

On Jan. 19, Nevada will be one of the earliest states to hold presidential nominating contests, after the Iowa caucuses and before the New Hampshire primary. Nevada’s contests will be caucuses, wherein party members get together in local precincts and gather into groups to select delegates for their preferred candidate.

Nevada’s “cow counties” are overwhelmingly Republican. It’s not quite a two-to-one advantage for the GOP in the jurisdictions not called Clark, Washoe or Carson City, but there are 1.7 times as many Republicans as Democrats.

But in a primary, the parties aren’t competing against each other. And in the caucuses, there are good reasons for both parties’ candidates to woo the rurals in their quest for the nomination.

For one thing, in the caucuses, rural votes actually count more than urban votes.

Under guidelines provided by Nevada statute, the number of registered party members in a particular county determines how many caucusers it takes to elect one delegate. In the largest counties, it’s one delegate per 50 registered party members; in the smallest, it’s one delegate for every five.

An Esmeralda County or Eureka County Democrat’s vote is worth 10 times as much as a Las Vegan’s; a Lander County Democrat’s is worth five times as much, a Humboldt County Democrat’s 2 1/2 times.

Elko County, the state’s third-largest, actually has enough members of both parties that their votes don’t get weighted. But the candidates’ visits to Elko can be seen as symbolic visits to rural Nevada as a whole, which is considered, along with Northern Nevada and Southern Nevada, the state’s third region.

“It’s designed so that urban counties don’t just dominate the caucus process,” said Kirsten Searer, deputy executive director of the state Democratic Party. “Clark and Washoe (counties) still have the most delegates, by far, but candidates can’t just bank on those to win the state.”

As of the Democrats’ latest count, the rural counties held about 9 percent of the state’s registered Democrats. But they get more than 12 percent of the delegates to the Democratic caucuses.

The Republicans, whose planned caucuses are on a smaller scale, haven’t finalized delegate counts. But based on the maximum allowed by the formula, the rurals have even more disproportionate clout: They make up 15 percent of registered Republicans, but would have 24 percent of delegates.

The Iowa caucuses are weighted in similar fashion, and candidates strategize accordingly, said Jean Hessburg, a Des Moines-based operative who is director of the Democrats’ Nevada caucus campaign.

“In 2004, John Edwards made use of those ratios and focused his campaign in Iowa on a rural strategy,” she said. “He spent a lot of time in northwest and southwest Iowa, where the rural areas are. When he came in second (in the caucuses), he surprised a lot of people.”

Hessburg was speaking by cell phone as she drove the three hours from Storm Lake, Iowa — pop. 10,000 — to Des Moines.

“It reminds me of going from Reno to Lovelock, except you have green corn by the side of the road,” she said.

There’s another factor in the rurals’ favor: Rural voters are much more likely to show up. In the 2006 primary, just 27 percent of Clark County registered voters turned out; in Eureka County, where there may not be much else to do, 66 percent did.

Urban counties’ primary turnout averaged 28 percent; rural counties’ averaged 42 percent.

Because of its meteoric growth, Clark County is often said to lack a sense of community or civic engagement. Compared to other parts of the state, Southern Nevadans are less rooted, less involved, and less likely to vote, analysts say.

“In Clark County, you have all the population, but terrifically low voter turnout,” Herzik said. “Outside of Clark County, voters are going to be more likely to participate.”

Candidates also can do things in smaller towns they couldn’t do in Las Vegas: the kind of small-scale campaigning that puts them in touch with regular folk.

Richardson, for example, was a hit when he strolled through a farmers market in Sparks. He got to meet and shake hands with people from all political persuasions who weren’t expecting to see a presidential candidate when they set out to do a little shopping.

Where would a candidate do something like that in Las Vegas? The Democrats who’ve come here have mostly spoken to more or less captive audiences at union halls, or held rallies that draw a large and self-selecting crowd.

Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, thought he’d make a surprise swing through a Summerlin Target store and shake a few hands. But word got out in advance, and Giuliani was mobbed with fans. Flattering, but not exactly spontaneous.

Thus, between the weighted delegates, the more engaged citizens and the ability to get up close and personal, candidates from both parties can benefit from traveling outside the Las Vegas area.

Last month, about 160 people turned out to hear Richardson in a sweaty airport hangar in Elko. For his trouble, he got a front-page “Richardson wows Elko” headline and a positive editorial in the Elko Daily Free Press.

All the activity “really highlights how politically active our county is,” said Cathie Horn, catering and events coordinator for the Elko Convention and Visitors Authority, who last week was working with Obama’s advance team to plan his appearance in the city’s 923-seat auditorium.

“Democrats and Republicans are coming to Elko and getting a wonderful reception,” Horn said. “People aren’t drawing political lines. There are Republicans I know who want to see Obama just to see what he has to say.”

Although the nomination is the prize for now, both parties are looking ahead to the general election, where rural Nevada will again wield its clout.

Horn pointed out that “during the last presidential election, we had the swing vote. Elko County pulled the state Republican.”

The Democrats don’t have a realistic hope of winning Elko County in 2008, but they can hope to win some converts. They can hope not to get totally clobbered, like in 2004, when Sen. John Kerry got just 20 percent of the vote in Elko County to President Bush’s 78 percent.

The Democrats hope that by getting rural Nevada organized for the caucuses, they can build an organization that will pay off in November 2008.

The Republicans were afraid Democrats might succeed in doing that; that’s why, some months after the Democrats decided to hold January caucuses, Republicans followed suit.

“The real prize of the caucus … is that it organizes grass-roots teams (for the candidates) throughout the state, which will coalesce into one big grass-roots organization behind the nominee,” said Pete Ernaut, chairman of the Republican caucus effort.

Republican candidates have paid scant attention to Nevada so far compared to the Democrats, but Ernaut and others say they are confident that will change.

It had better, Ernaut said.

“The competition between the parties is in November, not in January,” he said. “With Nevada as close as it is, it would take a very slight shove to move it from a Republican to a Democrat state.”

A shove, that is to say, as small as Elko County.

Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The world's longest racetrack could be coming to Pahrump
Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump might be the first racetrack in the world longer than 16 miles long once the expansion is complete. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Search for missing 3-year-old boy at Sunset Park
Las Vegas police and Red Rock Search and Rescue team search for a missing child at Sunset Park in southeast Las Vegas on Sunday, Sept.2, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai speaks at Las Vegas tech conference
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban on her way home from school in Pakistan after advocating for girls' education, spoke at VMworld 2018 at Mandalay Bay. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father recalls the night his 14-year-old son died jumping into moving traffic
From the Clark County Detention Center, Ezequiel Anorve Serrano talks about the night his 14-year-old son, Silas Anorve, died jumping into moving traffic on U.S. 95. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Palace Station unveils new sports book
Palace Station talks about the new sports book Thursday, August 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
One of world's longest racetracks planned in Pahrump by 2020
The racetrack will be 16 miles long by the year 2020 according to Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club owner John Morris. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Henderson police bodycam footage of officer-involved shooting
Henderson police released body-worn camera footage of an officer-involved shooting in a grocery store parking lot at 2667 Windmill Parkway on Aug. 12, 2018. (Henderson Police Department)
Robotics takes off at Las Vegas Academy
Las Vegas Academy’s robotics team made it all the way to the world competition last year, the first year the team competed. Zackary Perry describes how they programmed their robot to compete. The team is an example of what Tesla wants to have in every school in the state. (Meghin Delaney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bicyclist suffers major head trauma in hit-and-run
A bicyclist was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a Thursday morning hit-and-run crash near the school formerly known as Agassi Prep. Police said the bicyclist was hit by a white SUV, which fled the scene. The injured man suffered multiple injuries including major head trauma. As of 9 a.m., Lake Mead remained closed between Martin Luther King and Revere Street while police investigate.
Las Vegas artist Dave Dave dies at 42
Dave Dave talks about his art and his life in 2016. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dave Dave, whose dad set him on fire in 1983, dies
Dave Dave, a respected Las Vegas artist who was badly scarred as a boy when his father tried to burn him to death in Southern California, died at Sunrise Hospital on July 15. He was 42. When he was 6, Dave's father tried to kill him by setting him on fire. He was given a sleeping pill and his bed at a Buena Park, California, motel was doused with kerosene. “I remembered being in a lot of pain,” Dave told the Review-Journal in 2016. “When stuff happens to you at that young of an age, you tend to block it out, but I remember the pain was excruciating.” Dave, who was born David Rothenberg, became close friends with Michael Jackson, who met him after the attack, which burned more than 90 percent of his body. “I wanted to meet him, and he wanted to meet me, and that just turned into a lifelong relationship that never ended,” Dave said. “It was amazing being friends with Michael Jackson. He was an amazing person.” Dave attended ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena, California, and collaborated with various artists around Las Vegas, eventually selling his art to private collectors. Despite his challenges, he continued to live, thrive and create. Dave Dave
Homicide detectives investigate woman's death
Las Vegas police were called to Tahiti Village Resort early Wednesday after calls that someone had been shot. Police found a woman’s body between a parking garage and boiler room on the resort's property. A guest first reported hearing gunfire. There are no witnesses, but police will examine surveillance videos and look for clues. The woman was not identified, but a purse was found near the body. She did not appear to be a guest at the resort.
LVMPD Discusses Ross Dress for Less Shooting
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Charles Hank discussed the 15th officer-involved shooting of the year at a press conference at Metro headquarters on Tuesday, Aug. 14. The active-shooter incident took place at the Ross Dress for Less store at the 4000 block Blue Diamond Road in the south Las Vegas Valley. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County School Board president Deanna Wright on travel expenses
Clark County School Board President Deanna Wright says she followed proper expense protocol in trip to Florida last year.
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Shooting leaves 1 dead in southeast valley
A man was found fatally shot in the doorway of a squatter apartment after an argument ended in gunfire on Sunday night. Officers responded about 10:30 p.m. to the Silver Pines apartments and discovered the man in a breezeway in one of the buildings. The wounded man died at the scene, despite the efforts of another person, who tried to administer medical aid. Witnesses saw a man and a woman flee the scene, but were unable to give police a clear description.
North Las Vegas unveils new school crosswalk
North Las Vegas councilman Isaac Barron talks about the new school crosswalk in front of CP Squires Elementary School Monday, August 6, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
LVMPD Briefing on OIS #13
Assistant Sheriff Tim Kelly held a press conference to discuss details of the 13th officer-involved-shoot for the department in 2018. Video shows the moments before the suspect was shot. The shooting, which has been edited out, occurred as the suspect lunged at an officer outside the apartment. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like