Thursday, February 25, 2021

Nevada Senate Bill Would Establish Consolidated Presidential Primary in June

In one corner, there is the recent proposal from majority Democrats in the Nevada Assembly to not only establish a presidential primary in the Silver state, but to schedule it in late January in an effort to challenge for first-in-the-nation status on the presidential primary calendar.

But in the other now is a counterproposal of sorts from nearly the full Republican caucus (including all of the leadership) in the Nevada state Senate. However, instead of being early calendar provocative, the Republican bill introduced last week -- SB 130 -- would similarly establish a presidential primary, but tether it to the primary for state and local offices. That primary currently falls on the second Tuesday in June

On timing, then, these two measures could not place the presidential primary further away from one another. Democrats, who are not assured of having an active nomination race in 2024 with an incumbent in the White House, are pushing the envelope in Nevada on the front end of the calendar. But the Republican bill would schedule the new presidential primary -- consolidated with the other primaries -- near the back end of the primary calendar when the GOP may have an active nomination race. [No Democratic contest can be later than the second Tuesday in June, and no Republican primary or caucus can fall on a date after the second Saturday in June.]  

It is a stark contrast, one that breaks with how in-parties and out-parties behave between cycles with respect to their delegate selection rules (on both the national and state levels). The motivation for Republicans is clear. The countermeasure would create a presidential primary, but avoid the costs of funding an all new separate presidential primary election as the Democrats' proposal does. Yet, as with the Democratic bill in the Assembly, this latest bill can also be amended. But would Silver state legislators want to contend with anything other than a June primary for their own renomination contests (if the full consolidated primary was moved to any earlier date upon amendment)? Alternatively, would such a proposal meet the Democrats' wishes of a presidential primary but allow Silver state Republicans to stick with their caucuses for allocating national convention delegates? 

Regardless, Nevada Republicans are in the minority in both chambers of the state legislature, so it is not exactly clear how much leverage they bring to the discussion of the establishment and scheduling of a presidential primary. 

A link to this legislation has been added to the 2024 FHQ presidential primary calendar.

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