Democratic Conventions Draw Large Turnouts

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Democratic conventions drew large turnouts in Nevada's two most populous counties over the weekend, and party leaders attribute the interest to disapproval of President Bush's policies.

Republicans also held some county conventions, including one in Reno, and will gather for others later this month.

A record 430 Democrats attended the Washoe County convention in Reno, while 900 Democrats gathered for the Clark County convention in Las Vegas - the most in recent history.

Saturday's crowds surprised veteran Democrats after years of light turnouts.

"When I walked in this room, I thought, `My God, what has happened to us?' Thank you, Mr. Bush," said state Sen. Bernice Mathews, D-Sparks.

Many delegates had never before attended a political convention and attributed their involvement to Bush.

"This is the year I had to come," said Willia Chaney, 62, a Las Vegas-area child care worker.

Nicholas Lumbreras, 25, of the Reno area, added: "There's only so much you can take until you have to stand up against it."

Democrats selected delegates to the state convention April 16-18 in Las Vegas and approved platform planks.

Washoe County Democrats supported the war on terror, but condemned the Iraq war and federal Patriot Act.

Their GOP counterparts condemned the Nevada Supreme Court's ruling last year to temporarily let lawmakers approve tax increases without a mandatory two-thirds' supermajority.

The 77 delegates attending the Washoe Republican gathering also unanimously passed a resolution endorsing Bush's re-election.

"He has protected our nation ... He has made our country a safe place to be," said Ashley DeWeese, 18, a Reno High School senior.

Chris Carr, executive director of Nevada's Republican Party, said the presidential campaign in Nevada would be fought precinct by precinct.

"There's no doubt this election will be close. We expect it," Carr told delegates.

The GOP state convention will be held April 29-May 1 in Reno.

Democrats were told they need to remain energized to win the White House and other races.

"We don't want nuclear waste here and we don't want President Bush here, either," Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., told Clark delegates.