This article shows the efforts to make the early Nevada caucuses relevant to the process. They could have been relevant last election had the Nevada GOP not in effect stole the election away from the real winner – Cong. Ron Paul!
But in Nevada today [January 19, 2008] with a poor Republican turnout of less than half the Democrats (just under 45,000 vs 115,000) and with 99.7% of the precincts reporting, Romney had 22,644 votes, or 51%. Paul had about a quarter of that, 14%, or 6,084 votes.
Paul built a slow steady lead of about 400 votes over the veteran Arizona senator’s 5,648 total.
Huckabee sneaked past Thompson into fourth place with 8%, or 3,613 votes, a tiny vote lead over the former Tennessee senator, who had 3,518. Both had 8%. Giuliani, who’s counting on a late-state surge to salvage his one-time now-faded national front-runner status, had only 4% of the Nevada Republican vote with 1,910 ballots. And California’s retiring Congressman Duncan Hunter was last again with 2% or 890 votes.
But that was not the end of the story: Nevada GOP has, like many states, a state convention that actually chooses the delegates. Ron Paul forces were close to winning the vote and selecting a majority of the delegates when the convention was mysteriously adjourned. Here’s the Washington Post’s take on it:
As I pointed out in March, Lowden earned the ire of Nevada libertarian activists back in 2008 for what they see as her hijacking of the state party convention. John McCain had sewn up the GOP nomination before Nevada Republicans gathered, and Lowden had put in place a set of rules designed to rubber-stamp a slate of McCain delegates. But the convention was taken over by Ron Paul supporters, who launched an insurgency on the convention floor and succeeded in overturning rules.
It probably cost Lowden the 2010 US Senate nomination! The state GOP then secretly selected the delegates they wanted:
Lowden — who was then the Nevada GOP chairwoman — panicked. She and other state GOP leaders shut the convention down, promising to reconvene the delegates at a later date. But they never did. Instead, Lowden held a private conference call with state Republican leaders who secretly approved the slate of McCain delegates. The Libertarian activists — many of whom now populate the Tea Party movement in Nevada — never forgave her.
The libertarians promptly called their own convention and are crucial leaders in the Nevada Tea Party movement. That is a large part of the reason former Nevada Rep. Sharron Angle won the US Senate nomination. (Angle is running for the House and I hope she wins! That is a personal endorsement not a blog one!)
The GOP may be trying more openness:
Nevada Republicans plan to host a series of mock caucuses, train volunteers about how to hold a caucus and teach voters the intricacies of participating in the process. Party leaders also are seeking advice from experts in Iowa, which for years has held the leadoff caucuses. And the GOP is stepping up fundraising to ensure that it has enough money to rent venues for the voting sessions.
What they need is a strong statement that politics will not override the will of the people. I recommend that both the Paul campaign and the meetup/Campaign for Liberty/activists form 2007-08 call the roll again. Nevada is slated (although that is subject to change) to be third in the process after Iowa and New Hampshire. (Minnesota, another strong state for Paul in 2008 is also considering an early contest.) There are signs of activity and also a Las Vegas RP meetup group and a Reno one, too. There is a Nevada for Paul FB page.
If anyone wants me to publicize your activities in the Silver State, I’ll do it!