The other caucuses

The Nevada Democratic Party, for some reason, expended a lot of money in trying to pump up attendance at its precinct caucuses last week. At least three glossy mailings were sent out to registered Democrats around the state. All of them described attending the caucuses as a way of protecting Medicare, though the linkage was a little obscure.

One of the mailings read in part:

“Every Republican candidate for President has stated their support for the Ryan plan to eliminate Medicare and subject seniors to the private health care market, which would increase health care costs by $6,000 or more for every Nevadan age 65 and over. … On Saturday, January 21st show the country that Nevada Democrats are ready to stand up and fight back against Republican efforts to break the promise of a healthy and secure retirement.”

It’s worth recalling that the Democratic health care plan for the nation also subjects seniors to the private market by making commercial insurance companies an integral part of their program.

About 15,000 Democrats attended this year’s caucuses, down from four years ago when there was actually a race for the Democratic nomination.

Incidentally, the Nevada Democratic Party effectively made it a violation of the caucus rules to support any Democratic candidate for president except Barack Obama, by requiring that any prospective candidate, willing or unwilling, register with the Nevada Democratic Party chair.

Section 2a of the rules reads, “Caucus participants may express their support for any presidential candidate who has certified an authorized representative to the State Democratic Chair.”

So if someone supported, say, Hillary Clinton or Jerry Brown or Harry Reid for president, he or she would be out of luck.

The state Democratic Party is also critical of the state Republican Party for not holding its caucuses earlier, even though the Nevada GOP will hold the event 10 days earlier than it was originally permitted.

A Nevada Democratic Party statement reads in part, “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.”

The National Republican Party originally assigned Nevada the Feb. 18 spot, one of four states allowed to hold the first caucuses or primaries. All other states were required to wait until March. Then in October, Florida moved its primary to Jan. 31, and the first four states moved their dates earlier in January, Nevada to Jan. 14.

Nevada’s new early date, unlike the other changes, triggered some legal consequences—it prompted Iowa to move to Jan. 3, which activated a New Hampshire law that requires its primary be held no less than a week before “any similar contest.” That threatened to put the New Hampshire primary back into 2011, so the Republican national chair asked Nevada to move back to Feb. 4—still earlier than its original date—and Florida was penalized for going early by losing half its delegate votes at the Republican National Convention.

Paradoxically, the Nevada Democratic statement argues against its own party’s longtime position that state parties must comply with national party guidelines.

Incidentally, the Democratic Party’s online caucus site locator gave one site as “University of Nevada – Reno/1664 N. Virginia St.” with no other indication of where at the university the caucus was being held. An accompanying map showed it was just north of the Nevada Historical Society and just south of the Funeral Consumer Information Society. There is no Funeral Consumer Information Society at the indicated location, which appears to be the offices and studio of KNPB.