Odds are the Silver State will be hosting the most confusing, chaotic, and conspiracy theory-laden presidential contests in 2024: Yes, they have a government-run primary and a caucus orchestrated by the state GOP. The pandemonium will commence on February 6 with the state-run election, in which Donald Trump will not be a candidate – mostly because it won’t matter. Two days later, the Nevada Republican Party will host its official nominating contest, and that binding caucus will assign delegates.
This mess is all thanks to the craziest election in recent history: 2020. After the Democratic Party’s results were tallied, nagging inconsistencies and improperly assigned delegates in the 2020 caucus process led Democrats to ask for a government-run primary instead. A law was passed in 2021 to do just that, but either of the two major parties are allowed to hold a caucus and use those votes if they prefer.
How can Nevadans keep up? They must pick a team and follow its playbook rather carefully. Even Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar is pulling his hair out as friends badger him for information: “It’s one of those things where people aren’t paying attention until now,” he said. “I don’t know what else we could do.”
Trump and the GOP Players
To be on a Silver State GOP Caucus slip, candidates had to fork over the gold, either paying $55,000 to the party or hosting a fundraiser with the party, not the candidate, as a benefactor. Nevada state GOP chair Michael McDonald, a Trump loyalist, and other members of the party have interesting ideas of free and fair elections. The 2024 caucus aside, McDonald’s leadership is tarnished at best: In December of last year, a Nevada Grand Jury handed down indictments to McDonald along with Eileen Rice, Shawn Meehan, Jim DeGraffenreid, Jesse Reed Law, and Durwood James Hindle for allegedly passing off fake certificates to Congress for a Trump win.
But other big GOP players, like Governor Joe Lombardo and Lt. Governor Stavros Anthony, plan to caucus for the former president and then vote for “none of these candidates” in the primary. If that is the going trend with primary participants, it is possible, if not probable, that Nikki Haley – who isn’t on the caucus, and therefore can’t win the actual delegates – could lose in the primary to “none of these candidates.”
Lombardo also concedes this type of gamesmanship is off-putting: These two presidential contests could be “detrimental to the candidates” and would “disenfranchise a number of voters.”
But there is some merit to the idea of competing in the glorified public opinion poll of a primary even if it doesn’t award delegates. As Jill Douglas, a Nevada Republican Party Central Committee member, explained: “If I’m running for president and I’m trailing in the polls, and my thought is, I might not even pull enough votes to get a delegate anyway, why spend that $55,000? But I could participate in the primary and garner some national momentum from being able to say, ‘Well, I won the primary in Nevada.'”
Why So Mad at the Nevada Caucus?
Opponents of the caucus process claim the vote is not secure because the government isn’t in control, and the caucus employs picture identification, paper ballots, and precinct-based voting. And those arguing the process are clearly after the MAGA movement itself. The Nevada Democratic Party homepage is plastered with anti-MAGA press releases and sightings of the Republican governor “consorting” with an architect of the ‘Stop the Steal’ movement: Former acting Director of US National Intelligence, Richard Grenell. The site reads like a soap opera with weekly entertaining MAGA Madness updates.
“Joe Lombardo continues to put his political ambition above democracy by embracing election conspiracy theorists whose actions led to a deadly insurrection,” railed Nevada State Democratic Party Spokesperson Stephanie Justice. “Nevadans deserve a governor whose top priority isn’t currying favor with Trump and his lying cronies.”
Raise your hand if you did not see this coming.
What the electorate and the progressive left are seeing here is momentum. If not incarcerated or incapacitated, Trump is the likely Republican nominee for president.