Let's Convene on 1/19!
To: Nevada Republican Party
Whereas the Nevada Democrat party has already moved their presidential caucus up to January 19, 2008, and...
Whereas, as the second state in the nation to weigh in on the presidential selection process, Nevada Democrats are gaining a substantial advantage over Nevada Republicans in organization, media attention and fundraising...
Therefore, I urge you to likewise move
the Nevada Republican Party's presidential caucus up to January 19, 2008.
Nevada Republicans are on the verge of BLOWING perhaps the biggest opportunity they’ve ever had handed to them. That’s the opportunity to join their Democrat colleagues on the national stage in next year’s presidential selection process by being the second state in the nation to weigh in on who the next Leader of the Free World should be. It’s an opportunity within their reach which they only need to reach out and take.
But like most windows of opportunity, this one is closing fast. And if grassroots Republicans like you and I don’t do something quickly, we’re gonna be placed at a PERMANENT DISADVANTAGE to Nevada Democrats in election after election for the foreseeable future.
It doesn’t have to be that way...but I need your help.
NOT A DONE DEAL
If you've read the newspaper stories, you might think that the decision to move Nevada's Republican presidential caucus up to February 7, 2008, has already been decided. But the truth is, this is NOT a done deal.
In order for ANYTHING to happen, significant changes need to be made to the Nevada Revised Statutes which dictate how such a presidential caucus is conducted...or the Nevada GOP’s bylaws...or both.
So don’t believe press reports which claim the decision to move the GOP caucus to February 7th is official and etched in stone. It’s not. The party’s Central Committee still needs to approve ANYTHING done in this regard...and can still CHANGE it.
HOW WE’VE “ALWAYS” DONE THINGS
Let’s start with a little history...
In presidential election years, the tradition has been that Iowa holds its presidential caucus first in mid-January. That is followed up about a week later with the New Hampshire primary. And that is followed up on the first Tuesday in February with a series of caucuses and primaries in a number of southern states on what has been nicknamed “Super Tuesday.”
Every other state weighs in between Super Tuesday and the month of June.
For all practical purposes, the Democrat and Republican candidates who win in Iowa are generally considered by many to be each party’s “front-runner.” And a number of candidates who fare poorly in Iowa may well drop out of the running at that point.
It’s then on to New Hampshire. There the “front-runners” try to seal their front-runner status and gain “big mo’” going into Super Tuesday...while everyone else tries to throw a monkey wrench into the process with an “upset” to slow down the “front-runner.”
And again, some candidates, having lost in both Iowa and New Hampshire, will likely drop out. Those who remain standing head into Super Tuesday with the hope of delivering a knock-out punch...or just staying in the game for a few more rounds hoping to catch fire.
In 2008, the Iowa caucus for both Democrats and Republicans is scheduled for January 14th. The New Hampshire primary for both Democrats and Republicans is scheduled for January 22nd. And Super Tuesday for both Democrats and Republicans will be on February 5th. The last state scheduled to weigh in will be South Dakota on June 3rd.
For reference purposes, the Democrat National Convention is scheduled for August 25-28 in Denver; the Republican National Convention is scheduled for September 1-4 in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER
Over the past decade or so, there has been growing interest by a LOT of states to change this traditional presidential selection process. More than one state and campaign has grumbled about the “disproportionate” influence Iowa and New Hampshire have had in the process, with many pointing out that the two relatively small states are not indicative of the general voting population nationwide.
So many have been inching their primaries and caucuses up closer and closer in the schedule...but never before Super Tuesday. Indeed, both major parties have adopted rules penalizing states which move their presidential selection caucus or primary to a date before Super Tuesday.
Until last summer.
In no small part due to the tremendous influence of both then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and organized labor, Democrats approved two, new pre-Super Tuesday presidential selection states. Nevada Democrats snatched a caucus date between Iowa and New Hampshire, and South Carolina landed a primary between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday.
Regionally-speaking, this makes sense. Iowa represents the Mid-West, New Hampshire represents the North-East, South Carolina now represents the South and Nevada represents the West.
Agree with it or not, the decision has now been made. The train has left the station. Elvis has left the building.
And the decision presents a MAJOR problem for Republicans in South Carolina and Nevada. By allowing the Democrats to move the caucuses and primaries up in those two states, Republicans in those same states have been put at a TREMENDOUS financial and organizational disadvantage unless they now join their Democrat counterparts in scheduling a pre-Super Tuesday caucus or primary, as well.
Moving their presidential caucus or primary up before Super Tuesday isn’t something South Carolina and Nevada Republicans pushed for...it’s something that has been pushed ON THEM by the Democrats’ decision last summer.
For their part, South Carolina Republicans bit the bullet and moved their primary to February 2nd...three days before Super Tuesday...recognizing political reality and accepting whatever penalties the national GOP might impose on them. This means South Carolina Republicans will, for now, be the third state in the nation to weigh in on the GOP presidential selection process.
Which brings us back to Nevada…
IT’S JUST THIS SIMPLE
At this time, some party leaders have decided to move Nevada’s GOP presidential caucus up from its normal April date, but NOT before Super Tuesday as Nevada’s Democrats have done. The date they’ve tentatively chosen is February 7th...two days AFTER Super Tuesday.
It should be noted here that Super Tuesday this time around is being morphed into Mega-Tuesday...with California and a host of other states planning to join the traditional southern states on February 5th. Indeed, it looks as though some 2/3 of the nation’s voters will have weighed in on this process by the end of Mega-Tuesday...and it’s highly possible that the nominee for each party will be, for all intents and purposes, decided on that day.
That being said, Nevada Republicans can debate ‘til the cows come home whether to move its caucus up to February 5th and join the Mega-Tuesday crowd...or February 7th and be the only state to weigh in on the GOP presidential race that day...or Saturday, February 9th and join Louisiana...or hold off until February 12th or any other date. All of those options have their own pluses and minuses.
But NONE OF THEM are as good as joining Nevada Democrats and becoming the second state in the nation to weigh in on the presidential selection process on January 19th. NONE.
January 19th is filet mignon and lobster. Every other date from Mega-Tuesday on is hotdogs and beans.
It’s just that simple.
And I’ve yet to talk to a SINGLE REPUBLICAN in Nevada who doesn’t agree. So why ain’t we doin’ it?
As best as I can tell, there are two primary objections to Nevada moving its GOP caucus to 1/19 with the Democrats.
The first has to do with the penalty the Nevada Republican Party (NRP) would possibly have imposed on it by the Republican National Committee (RNC) should they move their caucus up to before Mega-Tuesday. Here’s the RNC rule…
“No presidential primary, caucus, convention, or other meeting may be held for the purpose of voting for a presidential candidate and/or selecting delegates or alternate delegates to the national convention, prior to the first Tuesday of February in the year in which the national convention is held.”
The penalty for any state violating this RNC rule is a loss of half its alotted official delegates to the Republican National Convention...including its state Chairman, its National Committeeman and its National Committeewoman.
The best unofficial estimate I’ve heard is that Nevada’s delegation for 2008 would be set at 34. This means Nevada would *only* get to send 17 official delegates to the national convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul in September...what I and most Republicans in Nevada would consider a very SMALL price to pay for the honor, distinction, attention and financial and organizational benefits we’d gain by moving to 1/19.
And besides, we all know the national convention is no longer an event where any real decisions are made. Each party’s nominee is selected LONG before the national convention convenes. These conventions are now nothing more than major media events which even the media is tiring of covering because...well, nothing happens there.
The national convention has really become nothing more than a 4-day series of parties and cocktail receptions sponsored by major donors for the chosen few who are selected to attend...capped off by a final night rah-rah speech by the party’s nominee kicking off the fall campaign...after which the delegates on the floor get photographed wearing goofy hats while waiting for a flood of balloons to drop from the rafters.
Make no mistake. If you’re one of the lucky few who gets to attend this super-duper part party, it’s a BLAST!
So what little opposition there seems to be to moving Nevada’s caucus up to 1/19 is generally coming from a small group of party regulars and/or leaders who fear that they won’t get a chance to wear a goofy hat during the balloon drop on the night of September 4th in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Knowing that, whenever you hear someone objecting to moving the GOP presidential caucus up to 1/19, first ask yourself if the person doing the objecting might be one of the 17 people who otherwise might not get to go to the convention. Their objection may well be for purely selfish reasons which have NOTHING TO DO with the best interest of Nevada Republicans in general.
ENSIGN VS. THE RNC
The second objection to moving the Nevada GOP caucus up to 1/19 appears to have to do with Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign’s role as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s (NRSC) campaign operation in 2008.
Ensign has taken on the task of trying to win back the majority in the U.S. Senate from Harry Reid and the Democrats. To do so, he’ll have to pick up two seats next year. The fear here is that if Nevada moves its caucus up to 1/19, some of the other states will get mad and take it out on Ensign’s efforts on behalf of the NRSC.
While I empathize with Ensign’s situation, Nevada Republicans simply cannot allow that to dictate what’s in THEIR best interests...not just for 2008, but beyond, well after Ensign leaves the NRSC position behind.
The reality is this: If Nevada Republicans don’t move their caucus up to 1/19 THIS election cycle and join their Democrat counterparts, they’ll NEVER get another chance.
Sure, some other states and the RNC might get mad at us; however, we didn’t ask for this. It was FORCED on us by the Democrats moving THEIR caucus up first. We’re only responding in kind. Out of pure self-preservation.
If Nevada Republicans don’t join the D’s on 1/19, they will be at a PERMANENT disadvantage in organizational and financial competition with the opposition. We can’t afford that. We still have a bare state Senate majority to hold, and a huge minority deficit in the Assembly to overcome...not to mention a critical re-election campaign for Gov. Jim Gibbons coming up in 2010, probably against Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley.
This is about nothing less than the Nevada GOP’s very survival politically. The other states will simply have to, as they say, “get over it.”
And they will. It would be foolish to them to undermine Ensign’s effort to regain the GOP majority in the United States Senate over something like this.
THE MECHANICS OF CHANGE
OK, in order for both the Democrats and Republicans in Nevada to change their caucuses, each needs to change the current Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS 293.163, in particular) governing this process...and/or change their bylaws, which can trump state statutes in matters such as these. The Supreme Court says so.
Even though the Democrats have already made the decision to move up their caucus to 1/19, they still need to change either the NRS...or their party bylaws. Ditto Republicans. Whether they move their caucus up to January 19th, February 7th or any other date, the NRS still needs to be changed. So Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio and Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley are already working on doing just that in a bipartisan fashion as you read this.
The thing for Nevada Republicans to understand about this is that EVEN IF the NRS is changed, that will NOT block them from scheduling their caucus on 1/19. EVEN IF a new law specified that Nevada Republicans couldn’t hold their caucus before February 5th, an unlikely circumstance, the party’s Central Committee could still over-rule any such statute.
So the bottom line is that the much-publicized February 7th GOP presidential caucus date you’ve read about in the paper is NOT set in stone. The full Nevada Republican Central Committee can still change the GOP presidential caucus date to 1/19 if they want to.
The challenge for Nevada Republicans will be in overcoming the objections of a handful of potential delegates to the national convention who are afraid they might miss the big party in Minneapolis...and the folks running the NRSC who want to avoid any grief from a few states and/or the party pooh-bahs over at the RNC.
TAKE ACTION! WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NOW
The first thing you should recognize is that almost NO REPUBLICAN inside the state of Nevada is opposed to moving the GOP caucus up to 1/19. In fact, over 75 percent of respondents in a recent online poll we conducted opposed the February 7th caucus. And I’d bet the rest would gladly take January 19th over February 7th any day of the week...and twice on Sunday.
The VAST MAJORITY of Nevada Republicans want to “convene on 1/19.” So you’re not even in the minority on this one, let alone alone.
And you should probably get just a little bit angry that the best, long-term interests of NEVADA REPUBLICANS is being subverted here. And once you get a little hot under the collar, please sign this online petition urging the Nevada Republican Central Committee to move the Republican presidential caucus to January 19, 2008...regardless of any loss-of-delegates penalty which the heavy hand of the RNC might hit us with.
Your petition will be delivered online directly to the Nevada Republican Party leadership.
But don’t stop there. Next call the Nevada Republican Party’s headquarters at (702) 258-9182 and tell them over the phone: “Let’s Convene on 1/19.” Tell them to forget February 7th, February 5th, February 9th, February 12th...or any date OTHER THAN January 19th. Period.
Then send this email on to every Republican in Nevada that you know, and have THEM sign the “Let’s Convene on 1/19” petition and make their OWN call to party headquarters.
As this effort gains steam, leading up to what I’m sure will be a rather lively Central Committee meeting in Carson City on April 21st (remember, they’ll be electing a new chairman at that meeting, as well), I’ll continually let everyone know who is supporting the January 19 caucus, who is standing in the way of it, and how to contact them.
If you’ve ever felt powerless to positively impact the direction of the Nevada Republican Party…
If you’ve ever been frustrated with the decisions of the party’s pooh-bahs being made behind closed doors…
If you’ve ever wanted to join a coordinated effort which could dramatically change a bad decision made by the party elders…
Then stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and sign this “Let’s Convene on 1/19” online petition.
Then tell all your friends about this effort. Tell your co-workers. Your neighbors. Your family. Heck, even tell your CAT! Nevada Republicans simply cannot afford to risk PERMANENT MINORITY STATUS in this state by not moving their presidential nominating caucus up to 1/19.
The only way to force the party leaders to do the right thing here is for average GOP activists such as ourselves to band together in a common cause and speak up in large numbers; to create an “insurgency” from the grassroots that the leadership simply cannot ignore!
So please, add your name to the growing list of Nevada Republicans who are saying, “Let’s Convene on 1/19.”
Thanks for your interest and participation in this critically important effort.
Former Executive Director
Nevada Republican Party