Posts Tagged ‘caucus’

Nevada Republican Party To Use Social Media To Report Feb. 4 Caucus Results

By Sean Whaley | 3:04 pm January 27th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Republican Party officials today announced they expect all the major GOP candidates will visit the state ahead of the Feb. 4 first in the West caucus.

The Nevada GOP is also introducing social media into the process, using the Google and Twitter platforms to report the caucus results beginning about 5 p.m. that day from 16 of the state’s 17 counties.

Final results won’t be known until sometime after 7 p.m. however, because of the Clark County GOP decision to hold one at-large caucus to accommodate religious concerns by some in the Jewish and 7th Day Adventist faiths who cannot participate until after sundown.

Clark County results won’t be complete until that late caucus concludes.

“I’m so excited about Feb. 4,” said Nevada GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian in a telephone conference announcing details of the event. “We are first in the West, which is vital, and as we’re watching everything take off across the country it looks like we may be the tipping point.”

Nevada State Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian.

The Republican presidential contest is expected to remain undecided through the Florida primary on Tuesday. Nevada is the next state in the process with its caucus. As many as 60,000 Republicans could participate.

Tarkanian said Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum are all expected to campaign in Nevada in coming days. Romney won the caucus in 2008.

“And I am just so thrilled that we have the top four willing and able to come and participate here in our state,” she said.

The caucus events for most participants will occur in each county from between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Clark County is the only county to have the evening at-large caucus.

Jim Anderson with CAP Public Affairs, hired by the Nevada GOP to help win Nevada for Republicans in November, said the use of Twitter and Google is a new wrinkle in presidential politics.

“One of the really cool things that we’re doing with this caucus that I believe has never been done before is utilizing both Twitter and Google to get the results out in what we think is the most efficient way to date,” he said.

The Nevada GOP Titter account, NVGOP, will be used to tweet the results, Anderson said. The Google election results map will be used as well and be available on the state GOP website, he said.

It should be the fastest results coming out of a caucus in history, Anderson said.

“We think we’ve got a tool for this caucus that could be a model tool moving forward for primaries and caucuses for states all around the country,” he said. “We’re extremely excited about launching it in Nevada.”

State GOP officials said they do not believe holding the late at-large caucus in Clark County will hamper or skew the reporting of the results. The results will be checked to make sure no one voted twice.


Audio clips:

State GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian says all four major GOP contenders will be in Nevada for the caucus:

012712Tarkanian1 :26 here in Nevada.”

Tarkanian says she is thrilled that the four candidates will be participating:

012712Tarkanian2 :14 of last December.”

Jim Anderson with CAP Public Affairs says the Nevada GOP will be using Twitter and Google to get the results out:

012712Anderson1 :15 way to date.”

Anderson says the results will be released more quickly than ever before:

012712Anderson2 :20 and efficient way.”


Democrats Caucus In Capital To Support President Obama For A Second Term

By Sean Whaley | 5:03 pm January 21st, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nearly 250 capital city Democrats took time out today to participate in the party caucus, supporting President Barack Obama in a process that held no surprises for the party faithful.

The caucus at the Carson City Middle School was one of 118 held around Nevada today as the state Democrat Party gears up for the 2012 election.

Carson Democrat caucus leader Marty McGarry reviews the process for participants. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Unlike 2008, when the Democrat nominee was still undecided at the time of the caucus, the nonbinding ballot had two options: the president or uncommitted. Obama was getting strong support among participants.

The Nevada State Democratic Party reported that with 90 percent of precincts reporting, more than 98 percent, or 12,000 participants, supported the president.

Republicans will hold their Nevada caucus on Feb 4. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is expected to be the favorite. He won handily here in 2008.

Life-long Democrat James Stevenson, 75, said he came out to support the president because of concerns that Republicans want to cut back on Medicare and other benefits Americans worked for.

“The Republican Party is trying to blackmail the middle class in this country,” he said. “They have threatened to take our Medicare away, which we pay for ourselves, they don’t pay for it. They want to get rid of the unions because the unions are the backbones of the middle class.”

“People have to wake up to what’s going on in this country,” Stevenson said.

The Democrat party used to stand up to the rich and the greedy, he said. The party today does not seem to be doing that, Stevenson said.

The Democratic Party is using Republican proposals to make cuts to Medicare benefits a major campaign issue. Republicans counter they are trying to make reasonable reductions in spending on Medicare and other entitlements to address the spiraling federal deficit.

Caucus participant Charlie Muller reviews the rules. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Jean Lea, 78, said she came out to support the president even though she hasn’t always voted for the party’s presidential nominee. Lea said she voted for Obama in 2008 and will likely do so again this year.

“My feeling is if I don’t come down and do this I have absolutely no recourse during the next four years to say my piece against or for legislation or anything else,” she said. “If you don’t vote keep your mouth shut.”

Rachel Sigman, an Obama volunteer, urged those attending to get started early in supporting the president’s re-election bid.

It seems as if there is more at stake in 2012 than there was in 2008, she said.

The caucus was the first step in the process of selecting delegates to attend the National Democratic Convention in September. Nevada will send 44 delegates to the convention in Charlotte, N.C.


Audio clips:

James Stevenson says Republicans are threatening the middle class:

012112Stevenson :25 the middle class.”

Jean Lea says if you don’t participate you have no right to complain:

012112Lea :20 your mouth shut.”


GOP Rejects Same-Day Registration for Caucuses

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:48 am October 22nd, 2011

As first reported by me (Thursday on Twitter), the embattled state GOP caved to pressure and scuttled the “same-day registration” discussion panel it had planned for Saturday’s central committee meeting at the Venetian Hotel.

Numerous party execs and elected officials (who declined to be named lest their voice mailboxes be bombarded with further protests) lamented the situation but said they were unable to convince concerned members that ineligible voters, Democrats and/or union members would not show up en masse and use on-site registration to interfere with the Republican caucuses.

Despite removal of the controversial topic from the agenda and the fervent prayers of state party officials that it would not come up, a motion was still made from the floor to never, ever, EVER talk about same-day registration again. Ever. For reals.

Sen. Dean Heller said Friday he was disappointed, believing same-day registration could have boosted GOP voter rolls by tens of thousands, as it did for Democrats in 2008.

Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian and other state and county GOP leaders will now be left to register voters the good old-fashioned way.

One Clark County Republican Party leader with whom I spoke wondered whether the same whipped-up activists who vehemently opposed same-day registration will “get off their duffs and assist” with registration efforts.

Yes, Really: Nevada Republicans Poised to Move Caucus Date

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:58 am October 20th, 2011

Hey, guys:

If the ruby-slippered girl from Kansas had capitulated to the demands of the wicked witch (“SURRENDER DOROTHY“) and her flying monkeys, poor Toto might still be stuck in Oz.


As reported by Ralston last night and confirmed by numerous sources inside the state party, Nevada Republican leaders are going wobbly and reconsidering their Jan. 14 caucus date.

Many forces are at play here:

– The ire of New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner who has been threatening to move the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary to December if Nevada does not move its date back

– Firm but friendly pressure from the Iowa GOP

– Pressure and promises of future benefits from the Republican National Committee

– The threat of a boycott of Nevada’s caucuses by a number of presidential candidates who heart New Hampshire and have no chance in Nevada

– The worry about perceptions amid accusations from some party members that Team Romney influenced the executive board’s decision to move the caucus date into January (the earlier date did help Romney and put other candidates at a disadvantage because his campaign has the greatest amount of existing infrastructure)

– Concern with a whipped-up faction of the central committee who were already unhappy with an attempt by the executive board to adopt same-day voter registration rules for the Republican caucus

– Anger among party members that these decisions were made by the executive board behind closed doors and without consulting the general membership of the party

– The worry about an expected challenge to newly elected GOP chair Amy Tarkanian at this Saturday’s central committee meeting in Las Vegas

It remains to be seen whether party leaders will just go ahead and pick a new date before Saturday, or whether they will wait until this weekend when more than 200 Republicans are presently expected to vote on the matter.

Amy Tarkanian has repeatedly said Nevada will not hold the caucuses on a Tuesday, which means the most likely new date is Feb. 4.

As one embattled and audibly exhausted state party official told me in a phone conversation, Nevada “will still be first in the west” and will “still matter” — but with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida all preceding the Silver State, it sure won’t matter as much as if the the Jan. 14 date had stood.

The Nevada Dems yesterday hassled the GOP about their reconsideration via a scathing press release (and an appearance by their memorable chicken mascot). Here’s their statement:

“Nevada Democrats moved our caucus date to bolster Nevada Republicans’ courage to stand up to Florida, who has violated rules agreed upon by both national Parties and is jeopardizing our hard-fought status as a presidential early-voting state. We are disappointed Nevada Republicans are now willing to risk Nevada’s status as an early voting state because they are afraid to stand up to the Republican National Committee’s empty threats and hollow promises. And since their threats against Florida proved toothless, the Beltway-minded RNC isn’t in the best position to honor promises like the ones they have reportedly made to the Nevada Republican Party. No matter what they have told in-state Republicans about securing Nevada’s third-in-the-nation status in future elections, Florida demonstrated the RNC is powerless to stop such actions. Since it would be a deep embarrassment to the state if Nevada Republicans wave the white flag on keeping our early voting status, we therefore strongly urge Gov. Sandoval and state Republicans not to retreat in this fight.”


In Case You Missed It: The Week in Nevada Politics

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:36 pm October 8th, 2011

And what a week it was! You’re sure to have missed at least one or two of the following items. And if I forgot something, feel free to post it below in Comments, along with your…comments.


I’m working on a blog post including links to the latest that I’ll get up by Monday, Dear Readers. Documents are flying and quite a bit has happened since Sept. 21 when a Carson City judge ordered public hearings on the matter.

If you want to attend the public hearing still scheduled for Las Vegas, it’s Monday, Oct. 10, at 9:30 a.m. in the Grant Sawyer building, 555 E. Washington Ave., Room 4401.

In Carson City, the public hearing will be Tuesday, Oct. 11, in room 4100 of the Legislative Building, 401 S. Carson Street.

Or you can find links to live broadcasts here.


After Florida jumped ahead to Jan. 31, South Carolina scheduled on Saturday, Jan. 21, and Nevada settled on Saturday, Jan. 14. Then, Iowa yesterday set their caucus date for Tuesday, Jan. 3. This creates a problem for New Hampshire which has a statute saying their primary has to be at least seven days before the next primary/caucus. If New Hampshire schedules on Tuesday, Jan. 10, Nevada’s caucus will fall just four days later.

Presidential Race and Related Matters

George and Jeb were in town. The former gave a speech and then went to see his old pal Sheldon Adelson at the Venetian; the latter mostly hung out with Gov. Sandoval including headlining a big ($600,000) fundraiser, also at the Venetian. (Ralston wrote up some of Jeb’s remarks after his tour of Agassi Prep.)

Team Ron Paul is up with their first TV ad. No word (yet) on the size of the buy in Nevada.

Herman Cain is on the rise.

Immigration matters. Romney v. Perry.

Stuart Rothenberg says he thinks the electoral vote advantage goes to Romney in a match-up against Obama.

A Tea Party Express spin-off group (numerous TPX staffers migrated) called Campaign to Defeat Barack Obama put out a YouTube ad called “Liberal Mitt’s Greatest Hits.” Safe to say, they aren’t Romney fans.

SuperPACs galore.

U.S. Senate

“Senate in chaos” says Politico. Procedurally speaking, that is. By a 51-48 vote, the Senate voted (along party lines) to change the precedent and limit how amendments can be considered once a filibuster is defeated. This after the GOP tried to tie up the Chinese currency bill by tacking on unrelated amendments. (Both parties have done plenty of this kind of thing at various times over the years.)

CSM wrote about it, too.

Is prayer the Senate’s only hope?

China’s currency meddling and related legislation was a topic in the Berkley-Heller Senate race this week.

Berkley out-raised Heller by nearly double in Q3. She now has $3.2 million cash on hand. Heller has $2.8 million. And let’s not forget all the money that will be spent here by the NRSC, DCSC, and various IEs and SuperPACs.


Amodei: Got Committees?

The Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, on which Rep. Joe Heck sits, this week held a hearing to explore ways to modernize the nation’s job-training system. Here’s video of Heck questioning witnesses.


Clark County is moving forward, making NBC and ABC (no, not the TV networks) happy in their PLA/union fight. Interesting stuff.

Our thanks to the LVRJ for running Sean Whaley’s story on Medicare fraud.


Nevada GOP Opts to Follow New Hampshire and Stay Ahead of Florida

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:27 pm October 1st, 2011

As flashed by RalstonFlash and the Las Vegas Review Journal by email few moments ago, Nevada Republicans have decided to move up the state’s presidential caucus to January (so still just behind New Hampshire) in order to jump in front of Florida’s primary, which is now set for January 31.

As a result, Nevada will lose half (a projected 14) of its delegates at the national convention.

However, maintaining its early-state nominating status ensures national eyes will remain on the Silver State and candidates will pay and play in Nevada, a financial boon to both broadcasters and political operatives.




GOP Chair Leaning Toward Early February Caucuses; Dem Chair Blasts Florida for Calendar Change

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:28 pm September 30th, 2011

State GOP chair Amy Tarkanian confirmed a short while ago that although discussions are ongoing, she is leaning towards holding Nevada’s presidential caucuses the first week of February. Tarkanian said she is just not sure she’s willing to be penalized and lose half the state’s delegates by scheduling prior to February 1, which is what Republican National Committee rules would require.

@RalstonFlash first Tweeted her position earlier in the day:

.@MrsT106: “It’s not fair that a bigger state can bully us in this manner.” But w/so few delegates, she frets NV will have no voice at all.

Tarkanian said the Nevada Republican Party executive committee will tonight have a conference call in order to weigh the pros and cons of giving up Nevada’s early caucus/third-in-line place in order to send all 28 of the party’s delegates to the presidential nominating convention in Tampa.

Tarkanian said she is not happy but could be satisfied to be “first in the West” position.

If Iowa moves its primary to January and the Nevada GOP chooses a February caucus date, it will have to reverse a provision binding the Nevada caucus date to the Saturday following the New Hampshire primary.

For the time being, Nevada’s GOP presidential caucus is scheduled for Feb. 18.

In reaction to Florida’s announcement today that they will be moving their Presidential Primary date to January 31st, Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange said in a statement, ”Florida’s announcement today risks the integrity and intent of the presidential nominating calendar and is a blatant violation of the rules agreed upon by the national committees of both parties.”

Update (4:29 p.m.):  From a press release from Amy Tarkanian/the Nevada GOP:

“Florida has thrown the primary and caucus system into upheaval with the decision to move their primary up to January 31st. It’s a disrespectful and counter-productive move. However, I am working closely with representatives of the other early states, Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, for a positive resolution. The date of Nevada’s caucus might have to be moved up accordingly to a date yet to be determined. Still, even if the date changes, Nevada will remain the First in the West Presidential Caucus and our determination to achieve excellence and raise Nevada’s national profile remains unchanged.”

Update (5:01 p.m.): Here’s the GOP delegate chart for all the states.



Nevada Democrats Call On GOP Presidential Candidates To Disclose Major Fundraisers

By Sean Whaley | 6:15 pm July 29th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevada state Democrats today called on Republican presidential candidates to disclose the names of their campaigns’ major fundraisers – known as bundlers – in the name of transparency.

President Barack Obama on July 15 released his list of major fundraisers, which he also did in 2008. The disclosure is not required by the Federal Elections Commission.

State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, held a brief telephone conference with the media to ask Republican candidates to follow suit. Democrats around the country have made similar requests.

Nevada state Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas. / Nevada News Bureau file photo

Denis noted that both President Bush and Senator John McCain disclosed major fundraisers during their campaigns for the presidency, but that none of the major Republican candidates seeking the presidency in 2012 have yet done so.

Current GOP candidate Mitt Romney also disclosed the information during the 2008 presidential primary.

An ABC News report dated July 20 said the major GOP candidates are declining to release the information.

Denis said Obama released the information because he “has always believed that sharing the name of major fundraisers is a critical step in making campaigns more transparent and accountable.”

“If the Republican candidates for president aren’t forthcoming about who exactly is helping them to get elected, how can we know for sure that those same people won’t be calling in favors if the candidate wins election (to) the White House,” he said.

Asked for a response, Ryan Mahoney, regional press secretary for the Republican National Committee, said: “If the Democrats insist on distracting Americans from their failure to have a plan to fix the debt crisis, they should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they continue to move the goal posts when it comes to fundraising transparency. This is the same party that gives special access to bundlers at the White House, takes money from state lobbyists, films political videos in the White House and whose president flip-flopped on public financing.”

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: “Barack Obama is just trying to distract people from his disastrous record of failure on jobs and the economy. We disclose all of the information about our donors as required by law and anyone who is interested can review it publicly.”

ABC News described the process: “Bundlers are wealthy and well-connected individuals who give the maximum legal contribution to a campaign – $2,500 for the primary – and then get their friends and associates to do the same.  The donations are ‘bundled’ together, often totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Republicans will be holding an early caucus in Nevada in February as the GOP candidates vie for the nomination and the opportunity to challenge President Obama in the November 2012 general election.

Audio clips:

State Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, says Republican candidates for president should release information about their fundraisers as President Obama has done:

072911Denis1 :19 transparent and accountable.”

Denis says voters deserve the information:

072911Denis2 :17 the White House.”

Denis says GOP candidates should release the information so voters can make their own judgments:

072911Denis3 :13 Republican candidates accordingly.”

Tea Party Express is Back on the Job in Nevada

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:47 pm April 24th, 2011

They’re BAAAACK…

Yes, Dear Readers, the Tea Party Express (TPX) is once again attempting to influence Nevada state politics in ways some say make little pragmatic sense and even (I would wager) contradicts what some folks on their Nevada mailing list are hoping happens in the coming weeks.

Exhibit One, a recent TPX missive suggesting that Governor Sandoval should appoint a placeholder (rather than Rep. Dean Heller) to John Ensign’s soon-to-be vacated Senate seat:

CONTACT: Levi Russell at or (509) 979-6615


Grassroots group asks Governor to avoid forcing a Special Election

The Tea Party Express ( today called on Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to appoint a distinguished Nevadan as an interim appointment to the vacant U.S. Senate seat so voters can have an unbiased final say in the elections of 2012.

Under Nevada law the Governor must appoint a successor to replace Senator John Ensign, who announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate as of May 2nd.  Speculation is that Sandoval is interested in appointing Congressman Dean Heller to the vacant Senate seat.

Such an appointment would create a House vacancy at an inopportune time as the Congress is addressing the serious debt and excessive spending of the federal government.  In addition, because Nevada has not had experience with Special Elections, it is an uncertain process to select a replacement to Heller.

Since historically around the country, appointed U.S. Senators have fared poorly in efforts to get re-elected in their own right, it makes more sense for the Governor to appoint a conservative Nevadan to fill out the remaining term of Senator Ensign, rather than put an appointed Senator in great jeopardy of not winning re-election in 2012.

The Tea Party Express suggests that distinguished Nevadans such as former Governor Bob List and former Treasurer Bob Seale would make outstanding interim appointments.  They could serve with great distinction for the next two years, and Nevada would be continuously represented in the House and Senate without the disruption of a Special Election.

Some have suggested the law be interpreted or changed so that political party caucuses would be used to select nominees.  We are opposed to any process that favors political insiders over the views and interests of the conservative voters of the state.

For further information or to schedule an interview, please contact Levi Russell at or (509) 979-6615


I hate to rain on anyone’s Tea Party Parade, but many TPX contentions regarding the possible outcomes of a party-chosen vs. primary-elected candidate are highly questionable. Where to begin…

First, assuming Governor Sandoval appoints Dean Heller to the Senate, Nevada special election rules dictate that he will then set a special election date (to occur within six months) for the open House seat. Once that date is chosen, there will be either a “free for all” primary election for all parties, or — as TPX points out — the parties will nominate candidates according to party rules (generally: via a vote of each party’s caucus or central committee). Whichever way it goes, the rules will be the same for all parties.

We do not yet know which scenario it will be, because Nevada law is a bit vague and in any case may be overridden by a federal statute. Secretary of State Ross Miller will issue an opinion on the law as soon as the governor announces his appointment, and we’ll go from there.

Second, the claim that the NV GOP caucus is made up of “political insiders” not only reveals typical TPX animosity toward all party structures, but also illustrates their (apparent) ignorance of the Republican ground game in Nevada. The executive board of the Clark County Republican Party, which accounts for a large percentage of the state’s GOP caucus (because 70% of the state lives in Clark), was last year taken over by Tea Party and Ron Paul types who are anything but party “insiders” and members of the good ol’ boy establishment. Naturally there are still some insiders on the inside, but they do not by any means run the GOP show.

What was left unsaid in the TXP presser is this:

If a GOP central committee caucus vote decides who the Republican candidate will be, their darling, Sharron Angle, probably does not stand much chance to be the chosen one. Sad for them — especially in light of the $500,000 they threw into her primary campaign last year — but the fact is, tea partiers and old-schoolers alike are concerned Angle could lose to a likable moderate or conservative Democrat. Whether fans of Angle or not — the base is divided on the Angle question, and her negatives with the base are high — many Republicans say they are just not prepared to risk a loss.

At this point, many Republicans say they believe state party chairman and former state Senator Mark Amodei, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, or pretty much any other GOP candidate has a better shot to win a general election than Angle. They know Heller’s district is by no means assured to the Republicans, and they want to nominate the most conservative candidate with the best shot at holding the seat.

Second, regarding the incumbency advantage or disadvantage for Heller, there is an argument to be made either way…but Heller probably stands to lose little and gain much by already being in the Senate when he runs for the seat next year. Such as: more statewide name recognition (which he very much needs in Clark County), use of Senatorial stationery and the NRSC’s statewide mailing lists, and some sensible Senate votes to point out to Nevada’s voters when campaign season is in full swing next summer. It is foolish to claim with any confidence that Heller, if appointed to the Senate, has less of a chance at reelection than otherwise.

Third, re: redistricting, it will not in any way be decided by the outcome of the special election, but by the inner workings of the Nevada Legislature and possible the courts. Redistricting depends on numerous factors including:

– various negotiations re: the state budget (the two should not be related, but they are)

– the gumption of the governor re: vetoing Democrat-drawn redistricting maps (Sandoval so far seems unafraid to use his veto stamp, and he has stated he’ll veto as many maps as it takes to get a fair final version)

– potential compromise-driven crossover votes from either moderate Democrats or Republicans in the Nevada senate (possible), and

– whether or not the matter ends up in court, which it very well may.

In any case, there is little (if any) doubt that Governor Sandoval is going to appoint Dean Heller to the Senate…so TPX is likely wasting its energy seeking a different outcome.

Likely GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty Talks About Gaming And Yucca Mountain In Vegas Visit

By Sean Whaley | 8:48 pm April 19th, 2011

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who is evaluating a run for president in 2012, said today he would be willing to reconsider whether Yucca Mountain is a suitable site for the long-term disposal of nuclear waste.

Pawlenty, in Las Vegas to meet with local Republicans, also said gambling has a “corrosive” effect on some people’s lives, but that legalized gaming is a local issue that should not be under the control of the president or federal government.

Pawlenty was interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program.

Nevada is an early caucus state for the Republican presidential primary next year. Former GOP Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is considering a run as well, won the Nevada caucus in 2008.

Asked about Yucca Mountain, Pawlenty acknowledged a comment in 2002 that he wanted Yucca Mountain to open as a nuclear repository to handle waste from Minnesota. But circumstances have changed since then, including the question of seismic activity around the Nevada site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. There is also a question about groundwater flows at the site, he said.

“We need to have a safe, permanent facility to house our nuclear waste in this country or somewhere else,” Pawlenty said. “It appeared in 2002 that that would probably be Yucca Mountain, but some things have changed since then. And I continue to believe we need to solve the problem and have a repository for our waste.

“I think in the wake of Japan, all I’m saying is we should step back and make sure we have this properly calibrated,” he said. “But we need to have a federal repository. Now whether that is Yucca Mountain or not I’m willing to review.”

Ralston also asked about Pawlenty’s criticism of gambling in 2003, which the former two-term governor said destroys people’s lives. Ralston noted that Pawlenty was holding events on the Las Vegas Strip during his visit.

“Clearly gambling has a corrosive effect on some people’s lives, clearly it does, you can’t deny that, I mean of course it does,” Pawlenty said. “But this isn’t a matter for the president or the federal government to decide. Each state, each locality can decide, based on its history, its economy, its people, its priorities, what’s best for them.”

Pawlenty said he has “enjoyed a game” of blackjack, three card poker and slots in his life but that for some people gambling is a serious problem.

“But this is not for the federal government to decide,” he said. “And what is right for Nevada may be different than what is right for Minnesota or what is right for Iowa.”

Pawlenty also talked about the need for “common sense, reasonable” reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as a way to get a handle on the federal government’s growing deficit.

For social security, there needs to be an increase in the retirement age for new participants in the program, and cost-of-living adjustments need to be based on need and not awarded automatically to all recipients, he said.

“Those two things are examples of common sense, reasonable, constructive solutions to real problems that I think we can get the country to support if we will lead,” Pawlenty said.

Audio clips:

GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty says Yucca Mountain may not be the best choice for a nuclear waste repository:

041911Pawlenty1 :16 for our waste.”

Pawlenty says he is willing to review whether Yucca Mountain is suitable:

041911Pawlenty2 :11 willing to review.”

Pawlenty says gambling has a corrosive impact on some people’s lives but that it is a local, not federal, decision:

041911Pawlenty3 :17 best for them.”

Pawlenty says the country’s entitlement programs need common sense reforms:

041911Pawlenty4 :08 if we’ll lead.”

Assembly Democratic Caucus Cleared Of Allegations Of Campaign Reporting Violations

By Sean Whaley | 8:28 pm December 9th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Secretary of State’s office today ruled in favor of the Assembly Democratic Caucus regarding a complaint about its failure to report the receipt of funds from its members.

The caucus did not report more than $120,000 received from Assembly Democrats on its campaign contribution and expenditure reports filed this year.

In a response to Dan Burdish of Las Vegas, who questioned the failure of the group to report the funds from its members, Deputy Secretary for Elections Matt Griffin said the payments are not campaign contributions as defined by Nevada law.

Instead, the funds sent by Assembly Democrats to the caucus are to cover dues and expenses.

Because the payments are not contributions, the acceptance of the funds by the caucus from its members are not subject to the law prohibiting campaign contributions before, during and after legislative sessions either, Griffin said.

The practice of the Assembly Democratic Caucus of not reporting the payments from its members, which Speaker John Oceguera said has been followed for more than a decade, is acceptable, Griffin said.

In a separate letter to Burdish sent earlier this month, Griffin also determined that Oceguera individually did not violate any campaign laws in reference to funds he gave to the caucus in excess of $10,000. State law limiting campaign contributions to $10,000 does not apply to the expenditures of a candidate, only contributions, he said.

Burdish said he is not satisfied with Griffin’s response and is seeking further clarification.

“I think they are trying to find a loophole,” he said. “The definition of a contribution is any payment, and a payment was made to the Assembly Caucus. So yes, I think the payments need to be disclosed.”

Burdish said it appears that Griffin’s letter just copied from the caucus response to his complaint.

“It does not appear that there was an independent investigation,” he said.

Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said he is pleased with the decision.

“I felt strongly that we had complied with the law and reported correctly and we are pleased that the Secretary of State has concurred,” he said. “We are glad to have this issue resolved so that we can focus on the critical issues facing Nevada.

“While we believe in the right of citizens to legitimately question the actions of elected officials and candidates, it is disturbing that too often now this is done for political purposes simply to discredit individuals,” Oceguera said. “With so many serious issues facing our state, the public deserves and should expect better.”

The issue of payments by Assembly Democrats to the caucus arose just before the Nov. 2 election.

Reports filed by Assembly Democrats showed more than $120,000 paid to the caucus, but the caucus did not report the funds on its report.

Oceguera said at the time the caucus was not required to report the funds because they were reimbursements to the caucus for salaries of legislators’ staff and to pay the legislators’ dues in the caucus.

Griffin’s letter to Burdish upholds this interpretation.

Griffin said a legislative caucus is a support organization for its members, and as such has the ability to charge and collect from the members for the operating costs of the caucus for that service.

Veteran GOP Leader Raggio Out In State Senate Leadership Shakeup

By Sean Whaley | 3:23 pm November 4th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Veteran Republican state Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, won’t be minority leader in the upcoming 2011 session, withdrawing his name from consideration for the leadership post today after getting GOP criticism for backing Sen. Harry Reid in the Tuesday general election.

The 10-member GOP Senate caucus instead unanimously supported Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, as minority leader. A member of the Senate since 1992, McGinness is in his last legislative session because of term limits.

No other caucus member sought the leadership post.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who on Tuesday won a hard fought re-election campaign, was named assistant minority leader.

“I withdrew my name,” Raggio said. “If it unifies the party and pacifies some folks who are still agitated, that’s fine. My goal is to unify the party instead of splinter it.”

The Washoe County Republican Party put out a statement congratulating McGinness and thanking the GOP caucus for, “making the leadership change the caucus badly needed.”

“Senator McGinness truly represents the small government, low tax views of Washoe County Republicans and would be a strong unifying leader the party needs at this juncture,” the statement said. “The WCRP looks forward to working with Senator McGinness and the rest of the Republican caucus during the next legislative session and beyond.”

Reid said in a statement: “In this election Nevadans, Republicans, Democrats and independents voted to reject extremism. That some of Senator Raggio’s Republican colleagues even considered punishing him for being on the side of a majority of Nevadans shows that they clearly missed that message and are not listening to their constituents.

“Senator Raggio has served in the state Senate longer than any of his colleagues and he has been long respected by Republicans and Democrats alike,” Reid said. “He has been a true champion of the people of Nevada in his work to represent them in Carson City. I appreciate his support and look forward to working with him to do what is best for Nevadans.”

Raggio, who will also be serving in his last session because of term limits, won’t be in the top Republican leadership post for the first time since 1983. He has served in the Senate since 1973 and is Nevada’s longest serving state legislator.

Some state Republicans sought a replacement for Raggio because of his endorsement of Reid over GOP challenger Sharron Angle. Reid won re-election on Tuesday. Raggio also faced a contentious primary race against Angle in 2008 that created animosity between the two Northern Nevada Republicans.

This is not the first time Raggio has been at odds with the more conservative and libertarian factions of the party. In 2003, he joined Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn in support of a tax increase. Then, in 2009, Raggio and four other GOP senators joined Democrats to override Gov. Jim Gibbons’ veto of a state budget that included tax increases.

Raggio said today he will also voluntarily step down as a member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee. The newly elected GOP senators are seeking fundamental changes to the way state government is funded and Raggio said he did not want to be an impediment to the process.

“They are all good people,” he said. “They’ve got their job ahead of them. There is no question this is the toughest session we’ll ever face.”

Six of the 10 members of the caucus were newly elected on Tuesday.

The caucus meeting came just two days after Republicans picked up a seat in the 21-member Senate, closing the gap with Democrats to just one. Sen.-elect Michael Roberson defeated Democratic incumbent Joyce Woodhouse in Clark District 5 to reduce the margin from 12-9 in the 2009 session. Republicans also held on to an open Las Vegas seat and Cegavske fended off a challenge from a well-financed Democratic opponent.

Despite the increase in numbers, Raggio said he and his colleagues are concerned that Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, re-elected by his caucus yesterday, has devised a plan for committee assignments that will have 5-2 Democratic majorities on two committees in the 2011 session: Commerce and Labor and Health and Education.

“It is completely inequitable when you have an 11-10 split,” Raggio said. “It is hardly fair representation on a committee.”

Raggio said that when he questioned Horsford about the plan he was told there is precedent for such a move.

“I think this will cause concern and it is not the best way to start a session,” Raggio said.

Horsford could not be reached for comment.

Assembly Republican Caucus Launches New Media Contacts To Keep Voters Informed

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:18 pm June 22nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Republican Assembly Caucus has launched a media suite to keep Nevadans engaged and informed about lawmaker activities as the general election campaign season gets under way.

The suite includes a new website, blog, twitter feed, Facebook page and e-newsletter.

The resources will provide real-time updates about the caucus and its individual members. Nevadans will be able to access campaign, special event, legislative and community information at the click of a button, via computer or phone.

“I am pleased that the caucus and its members are utilizing every available medium to communicate with the residents and families of Nevada,” said Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka. “The caucus looks forward to exploring new ways to remain accessible to the people we represent.”

Goicoechea was recently elected minority leader, replacing Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, who is not running for re-election. In an interview last week, Goicoechea said his leadership position will last at least through the November election, when newly elected caucus members will meet to decide leadership positions for the 2011 legislative session.

At least seven current members of the Assembly GOP caucus will not be returning in 2011 due to term limits, retirement or because they are seeking higher office. The other seven must win re-election in November.

Goicoechea said the caucus is working together to pick up at least one new seat while holding on to the 14 the GOP controls now to take away the two-thirds majority Democrats now have in the 42-member lower house. Fifteen votes would give what Goicoechea calls a “super minority” where Democrats could not vote to raise taxes or override a governor veto without Republican support. Democrats now have a supermajority with 28 seats.

Others would say the GOP Assembly is in a super minority now, since there aren’t enough votes to stop a Democrat agenda.

“We recognize the need to get above 14 if we are to be effective at all in the next session,” he said. “The whole caucus is behind that.”

audio clip:

Goicoechea on need for Assembly GOP to pick up more seats:

062210Goicoechea :22 you’re in trouble.”

Goicoechea Named GOP Assembly Minority Leader

By Sean Whaley | 12:43 pm June 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Republican Assembly Caucus has elected Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea as its new minority leader, replacing the retiring Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, was the unanimous choice of the 14-member caucus.

Gansert, R-Reno, is not running for re-election to the Assembly.

Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats in the Assembly by a 28-14 margin, the number of votes Democrats need to raise taxes or override a veto by the governor. The Assembly GOP caucus is working to pick up additional seats in the November general election to eliminate this numerical advantage in the 2011 session.

Goicoechea said: “I look forward to working with fellow caucus members to elect additional Republicans to the Legislature, and I am excited to present the GOP case to voters. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us these next few months and we are determined to get it done.”

Gansert said Goicoechea will be an outstanding leader for the caucus.

Contested GOP State Senate Primary Races Split Between Moderate And Conservative Candidates

By Sean Whaley | 10:44 am June 9th, 2010

CARSON CITY – In the fight for control of the Republican Party in the state Senate in the Tuesday primary it was an even split, with conservative candidates taking two of four contested seats and two others going to more moderate candidates backed by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio.

The winners of the contested GOP Senate primaries, depending on the results in the November general election, could change the character of the caucus. Raggio, R-Reno, has voted for tax increases in past sessions and has worked across the aisle with Democrats to end often contentious legislative sessions.

Those calling themselves the true conservatives in the contested primaries say they will not compromise on taxes or other core Republican issues.

In Washoe District 2, Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, defeated Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin, 59 percent to 41 percent. Larkin, the candidate endorsed by Raggio, had a much bigger war chest in the race. Gustavson has said he will not compromise on core Republican values and will not vote for tax increases.

In another closely watched race, Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, lost to state employee Ben Kieckhefer, in the Washoe 4 contest. Kieckhefer, who is endorsed by Raggio and the caucus, won 42 percent to 37 percent. Two other Republicans also ran in the primary.

Kieckhefer, who had more money to spend on the race, repeatedly ran an ad showing Cobb responding awkwardly to media questions about an incident in which he had destroyed a campaign sign belonging to a Reno Democrat running for another state Senate seat. The ad called his leadership abilities into question.

In Clark County in the GOP Senate 9 primary, challenger Elizabeth Halseth defeated incumbent Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, 57 percent to 43 percent. Nolan was criticized by Halseth in the campaign for testifying as a character witness for a friend who was being tried for a sex crime. Nolan said he was subpoenaed to testify by the public defender’s office.

Halseth said she will not support tax increases if elected to the Senate.

In the Senate 12 race in Clark County, Raggio-backed candidate Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, defeated Patrick McNaught 55 percent to 40 percent. A third candidate pulled 6 percent.

In all four races, the senators that have been serving in the districts were supporters of Raggio in the GOP caucus.

Janine Hansen, a long-time political activist and Independent American Party candidate for the Assembly seat in Elko, said the outcomes of the state Senate contests are not a surprise.

“Races are often determined not by ideology but by who has the most money and who runs the smartest campaign,” she said. “Even when there is tremendous interest in the elections like this year, those who are involved are a minority.

“The vast majority of people still respond to the name they know the best,” Hansen said.

Gustavson said his grass roots, door-to-door campaign made the difference in the Washoe 2 race.

“I’m always outspent,” he said. “At least 2 to 1 this time. Hard work is what wins races.”

Kieckhefer, who faces an Independent American candidate but no Democrat in the November general election, said he believes his campaign of offering effective, conservative leadership made a connection with voters. He also challenged any notion that he is not a conservative Republican.

“Obviously we have a massive budget shortfall we need to address by prioritizing spending,” he said. “I stand ready to make those hard decisions.”

In a fifth GOP Senate primary, Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, defeated fellow conservative Steve Yeater in the Capital Senate District. Settelmeyer is backed by Raggio, but has taken a strong stand against tax increases during his tenure in the Assembly. Long-time Raggio supporter Mark Amodei, who had held the seat, was term-limited out of office. He is now chairman of the Nevada State GOP.

In addition to Amodei, Raggio had the backing of Sens. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, and Nolan in past legislative sessions. Townsend and Washington also left office due to term limits. Hardy resigned.

A change in the approach by Senate Republicans in the 2011 session could mean tough negotiating with Democrats over how to balance a budget that is expected to be $3.4 billion out of balance. Other critical issues include the redrawing of political boundaries, economic diversification and a major tax debate.

If enough GOP Senate Republican are unwilling to compromise on taxes and the budget in the 2011 session, Raggio’s job could be considerably more difficult as leader of the caucus. Republicans are a minority in the Senate 9-12, the first time they have not been the majority since 1991.

Raggio is in the middle of his final term in the Senate, having served longer than anyone in state history. He was first elected to the Senate in 1973. Rumors circulated earlier this year that Raggio might resign in mid-term and not serve in 2011. Raggio has said he has no plans to step down.