Report from NV, Part One: the Republican caucus

 In Election 2008, Nevada


With Tara Wagner (right), delegate to the Clark County Republican Convention, who offered Peace Action West’s resolutions at the Republican caucus on Saturday

As I started out the day ready to report on the historic Nevada caucuses from Las Vegas, I first reaffirmed my pledge that none of my blog posts would include any gambling analogies or references to “what happens in Vegas…” despite any influence sleeping above a casino last night may have had on me. The Republicans caucused first at 9:00 am, so I headed off to Bonanza High School in Las Vegas to observe the action.

Standing at the back of a small classroom where 43 Nevadans had come to vote, I decided it was best to go incognito and kept my fleece on over my Voters for Peace and Security t-shirt. The people who came all seemed very committed to the election, and many of them emphasized coalescing around the eventual nominee and the importance of sticking together. The only spontaneous applause came from a potential delegate who has running because he really doesn’t want Clinton to be president. This was a popular topic of the day, with one citizen first praising Giuliani for his presumed ability to get rid of “illegals,” and then sharing his plans to move to Mexico if Clinton became president. There were over 350 voters that would have been eligible to participate, but the organizers were expecting 5-10 for this first-time caucus, so they were pleased with the turnout.

The first order of business was electing delegates to the county convention, which involved short speeches by the voters who were running and a series of votes to get seven delegates and alternates.  Peace Action West supporter Tara Wagner was elected as a delegate. As I stood in the back of the room, I saw the printed copies of our resolutions to end the war in Iraq and to eliminate nuclear weapons on the table next to the other election paraphernalia. 

Following the election of delegates, pieces of paper were passed around for people who wanted to submit platform issues for the Republican County Convention later this year. Among the proposed topics were “no more caucuses” and a constitutional amendment to mandate English as the official language of the US. While the issues were not discussed at the caucus, Tara submitted PAW’s resolutions on behalf of the precinct, so delegates at the county convention will have an opportunity to debate and vote on them.

Supporters of a candidate were able to offer one person to give a two-minute speech on behalf of their candidate, and it was fascinating to watch this group of neighbors get up and share their feelings on each candidate (except Duncan Hunter, who didn’t receive any votes). There was not much detailed substantive discussion, though some people cited positions on issues such as illegal immigration, taxes, and foreign policy as motivators for supporting certain candidates.  As we’ve heard throughout the campaigns, there were several mentions of “character” and the ability to “get things done” and “create change.” A secret ballot for president followed, with the results not that far from what is now being reported for the entire state:

Romney: 24
Paul: 4
Giuliani (referred to as Rudy G. since no one knew how to spell his last name): 4
Thompson: 4
McCain: 3
Huckabee: 3

While the Republican candidates largely ignored Nevada, and turnout was lower than the Democratic caucuses, people were obviously interested and engaged in the process. 

Thanks to Tara Wagner for offerings Peace Action West’s resolutions and inviting me to observe her precinct in action.

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