What Happens In Vegas
LAS VEGAS--When the Democratic National Committee declared last year that the Nevada caucus would take place before the New Hampshire primary, New Hampshire officials vowed no one would vote before the Granite State except for Iowa. They're likely to win that battle. With the South Carolina Republicans setting off changes to the primary calendar by holding a primary the same day, Jan. 19, that the Nevada vote is planned for, New Hampshire is almost certain to move ahead of Nevada again.
So far, Nevada Democrats said they're sticking with their date, as long as they remain one of the first four states to vote. "Everything is the same it was a week ago," said Jamal Simmons, a spokesman for the Nevada Democratic Party.
The Republicans moved up their caucus in Nevada to Jan. 19 as well, but GOP candidates have spent almost no time in the state, and GOP officials have indicated they are also unlikely to change their caucus date. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney did announce today he will hold a town hall in Elko on Monday, his first event in the state except for a fundraiser. For Romney, a win in the state on Jan. 19 could help him, as polls suggest he's not as strong in South Carolina as in the other early states.
On the Democratic side, while Nevada still has not rivaled Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina, candidates are visiting the state more often. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have made stops over the last two days, attending the convention for the National Association of Black Journalists and speaking to the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas. The latter has become a must stop for all of the candidates; Edwards will attend a rally on Friday with the group as well. With 60,000 members in a state with expected to have a turnout of under 100,000 in its caucus, the endorsement could be pivotal to determining who wins here. "Nevada is going to stay important," said Pilar Weiss, the union's political director. "It's the first Western state, with a big union population."
--Perry Bacon Jr.
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