Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada ahead of its 2024 Democratic presidential primary (Courtesy of Biden for President)

Neva­da was part of the 2020 ultra MAGA assault on Amer­i­can democ­ra­cy, in which Don­ald Trump tried to steal the most recent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, a gam­bit which he lost and that has sad­dled “The Don­ald” with a four indict­ments and mil­lions of dol­lars in legal fees. He has craft­ed an actu­al fix to lock in the Sil­ver State’s del­e­gates to the 2024 Repub­li­can Nation­al Convention.

The Trump forces, who run the par­ty in Neva­da, refused to uti­lize the results of the state-run pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry on Tues­day. They will instead use cau­cus­es on Thurs­day to choose the Sil­ver State’s con­ven­tion delegates.

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates were giv­en the choice of cam­paign­ing in a mean­ing­less pri­ma­ry, or con­test­ing in the cau­cus­es. But not both.

The Trump-friend­ly del­e­gate selec­tion plan effec­tive­ly left Nik­ki Haley on the beau­ty con­test pri­ma­ry bal­lot, but left out of the par­ty-run caucuses.

“We have not spent a dime nor an ounce of ener­gy on Neva­da,” Bet­sy Ankney, Haley’s cam­paign man­ag­er, told reporters on a con­fer­ence call Tuesday.

Trump flew in for a ral­ly late last month, and told fol­low­ers not to vote in the “mean­ing­less” pri­ma­ry. Behind the scenes, how­ev­er, the cam­paign passed the word for ultra MAGA forces to mark the “None of These Can­di­dates” box that Neva­da law makes avail­able to pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry voters.

The result has been a dou­ble win for Trump this week.

He want­ed Haley to look ugly in the beau­ty con­test. She did. “None of These Can­di­dates” was trounc­ing Haley by a two-to-one mar­gin last night. And Trump will har­vest all of Nevada’s del­e­gates from the cau­cus­es tomor­row night..

The ear­ly-sea­son Neva­da pri­ma­ry was a cre­ation of the late Unit­ed States Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid, a force in Sil­ver State pol­i­tics. He set out to make what Neva­da polit­i­cal pun­dit Jon Ral­ston dubbed a we mat­ter state.

Reid argued that the West need­ed a voice in pick­ing the Democ­rats’ pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee. He tout­ed the diver­si­ty of his state. Neva­da has a big Lati­no pop­u­la­tion, plus a grow­ing and sur­pris­ing­ly large num­ber of Asians and Pacif­ic Islanders in its elec­torate. The Culi­nary Work­ers Union, rep­re­sent­ing casi­no employ­ees, gives orga­nized labor a pow­er­ful pres­ence in Las Vegas.

What hap­pens in Las Vegas – polit­i­cal­ly – does not stay in Vegas. The city’s bal­lots gave Joe Biden six much-need­ed elec­toral votes in 2020: Biden car­ried Neva­da with just 50.1 per­cent of the vote. A big Las Vegas major­i­ty tipped the scales for Nevada’s Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Cather­ine Cortez Mas­tro, the last 2022 Sen­ate race to be decid­ed. Cortez Mas­tro won by few­er than 8,000 votes.

Pres­i­dent Biden was tak­ing 89% of the vote in last night’s Neva­da pri­ma­ry. Although vir­tu­al­ly unop­posed, the 46th Pres­i­dent has cam­paigned and raised mon­ey in the state. Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris also appeared to turn out the vote and turn up enthu­si­asm among Demo­c­ra­t­ic voters.

“The late, great Har­ry Reid always remind­ed us: If you can win in Neva­da, you can win any­where,” Har­ris told a ral­ly. “Har­ry, Pres­i­dent Biden and I are going to prove you right once again.”

About the author

Joel Connelly is a Northwest Progressive Institute contributor who has reported on multiple presidential campaigns and from many national political conventions. During his career at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, he interviewed Presidents Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and George H.W. Bush. He has covered Canada from Trudeau to Trudeau, written about the fiscal meltdown of the nuclear energy obsessed WPPSS consortium (pronounced "Whoops") and public lands battles dating back to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

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