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Nevada’s Democratic caucus presents opportunity for voters

One month from today, all eyes will be on Nevada. At 11 a.m. on Feb. 20, Democrats will gather with their neighbors in schools and community centers across our state to participate in our First in the West caucuses and register their presidential preference for 2016.

You can now look up your caucus location and even pre-register through our website (www.nvdems.com/caucus). If you’re not a registered Democrat yet, don’t worry: Nevada Democrats allow same-day voter registration.

Nevada is the third state in the country to make its voice heard in this nomination process. As we head into a pivotal election year, this is a unique opportunity for Nevadans to shape the future of our party and our nation.

Every four years, Iowa and New Hampshire soak up a lot of attention around this time. But more than any other early state, Nevada reflects the growing diversity of the Democratic Party and the American electorate as a whole.

We have vibrant Latino, African American and Asian American/Pacific Islander communities that make up nearly half our state’s population. We are home to many young people and military families, hard-working union members and clean energy innovators. No other early state comes anywhere close to matching our demographic, regional and cultural diversity.

And our early-state status has brought Western issues to the forefront of national politics. The presidential candidates who court Nevada voters are expected to have real plans for fixing our broken immigration system, defending public lands access, expanding renewable energy production and stopping Yucca Mountain.

Under President Barack Obama’s leadership over the past seven years, our country is finally back on track. Private-sector job growth has continued for 70 straight months. The unemployment rate has been cut in half. Nineteen million more Americans have health insurance. America has regained its standing on the international stage.

Contrast that record of accomplishment with the Republicans running to succeed him in the White House.

Led by Donald Trump, this is by far the most extreme GOP presidential field in history. While Trump’s boorish behavior and outrageous comments may dominate the headlines, the rest of the candidates share his divisive ideas and destructive agenda.

Despite our long road to recovery, all the Republican presidential candidates want to return us to the same failed Bush-era economic policies that caused our foreclosure crisis and sent thousands of Nevadans to the unemployment line. In order to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthy, many of these candidates have endorsed budgets that cut services that families rely on. None of these candidates support raising the minimum wage, paid family leave or equal pay for equal work policies.

None of the Republicans running support common-sense immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and every single one would end protections that keep families together.

On health care reform, every Republican candidate is hell-bent on repealing the Affordable Care Act and taking health insurance away from millions of Americans. On women’s health, every GOP candidate opposes a woman’s right to choose. Marco Rubio even says he would require survivors of rape and incest to carry their pregnancies to term.

And for all of their talk about keeping Americans safe, these Republicans are so beholden to the gun lobby that they oppose stopping terror suspects from being allowed to buy guns.

You might think Trump is a laughingstock, but his party’s dangerous ideas pose a serious threat to the progress we’ve made as a country.

If you’re as concerned as I am about this out-of-touch agenda, the best way to take a stand against the Party of Trump is to show up to your precinct caucus on Feb. 20.

Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders are all terrific candidates who are ready to carry on President Obama’s legacy. I’m confident one of these candidates will move into the Oval Office in 2017.

One month from today, we’re counting on you to caucus and help Nevada choose our 45th President.

— Roberta Lange is chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party.

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