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AB126: Nevada’s bid for a first-in-the-nation primary

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 7:02 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A Nevada primary replacing our presidential caucus and moving it to the front of the line in 2024? The idea has been talked about in political circles for months, but the first time it surfaced in public was at a recent White House press briefing as a reported asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki for a comment about the lineup for the 2024 presidential contests and Nevada’s interest in going first.

“Too soon, too soon,” Psaki pleaded, adding, “We are certainly not focused on the next political campaign quite yet and we don’t have any point of view to share on the order of the next presidential nominating contests.”

But she noted, Nevada’s a little warmer but you know a lot of great states out there.”

So, it was no surprise when the idea surfaced as a bill in the legislature.

AB126 would create a Nevada primary, replacing out caucus and place it first in the nation. It was immediately endorsed by democratic leadership and the governor. Longtime Nevada political observer Fred Lokken says he expects it to pass and he says it would be good for the state.

“This would just be huge move in Nevada for more interest in the campaign. Also it would bring a lot more attention to Nevada.”

Our caucus is currently third on the calendar, behind the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. Both states jealously guard their status. New Hampshire even has a state law mandating that it’s primary will be held a week ahead of any other state. but both had problems last year.

Their status has been challenged unsuccessfully before, but both had their problems in 2020. Besides Lokken says there’s a strong case to be made for Nevada.

“We look like america. we have the employment patterns of america. we literally are the future of america in terms of the presence of immigrant population. that’s why it’s a real standout not only for democrats, but for republicans, that’s being seriously considered.”

Some Nevadans have found the caucus process time consuming and confusing. A primary election would be familiar to all. For that reason and the backing of Demcratic leadership and the governor, Lokken expects AB126 to pass. “The question is whether we will actually succeed in becoming the first by 2024.”

The final decision won’t take place in Carson City and much of it won’t be heard in public. AB 126--he says--is an early bid to set the stage for that debate.

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