Nevada Democrats cite midterms in bid for first primary stop

RENO, Nevada — Nevada congressmen in a Friday statement called on the Democratic National Committee to make the western swing state the first stop of elementary school, citing a strong interim record as evidence why it should be at the top.

It’s the latest in a growing debate over who should gain the political clout to be first in the nation as Iowa’s run straddles more than half a century. For months, the state’s delegates have resisted criticism that there is not a sufficiently diverse electorate and that it is not possible to predict which candidate will win the primary.

Nevada members of Congress said the midterm election result — including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s re-election after many considered her the most vulnerable incumbent — “cemented why we should hold the first presidential primary.”

“Nevada is a pro-worker state with one of the most diverse populations in the country and a commitment to suffrage that is a model for the nation,” they said.

Four of Nevada’s five Democratic congressmen — Cortez Masto and Congressmen Steven Horsford, Dina Titus and Susie Lee — all won re-election in so-called toss-up races. Senator Jacky Rosen is up for re-election in 2024. Rep. Mark Amodei is the state’s only Republican congressman and easily won re-election to his seventh term last week.

Nevada competes primarily with New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina since the party opened its trial for first place earlier this year. The party’s rules committee is scheduled to meet in early December to decide on the new calendar.

New Hampshire has focused its reasoning on grassroots politics and the potential for Democrats to lose future elections if they are no longer in one of the top spots. The Iowa delegation pledged changes to their caucus, including expanded voting by email, after technical glitches extended the 2020 results. South Carolina delegates have touted the state’s size, diversity, affordability and accessibility to candidates.

Nevada has a large proportion of working-class voters with a strong union presence and a large population of Latino, Filipino, and Chinese American communities. The letter cites a demographic diversity — from metro centers in Las Vegas and Reno to tribal and rural communities — that may point to a primary victory across the country.

“If you’re a presidential candidate and you can win in Nevada, you have a message that resonates across the country,” Cortez Masto said on MSNBC earlier this week, calling the state “a microcosm of the rest of the country.”

Nevada Democratic strategist Rebecca Lambe also outlined in a memo first reported by Politico that the midterm elections “underscores Nevada’s record of beating the odds to deliver for the Democrats.”

“The voters that make up our electorate represent the future of the Democratic Party if we are to win national elections: working-class, Latino, Black, Asian, Native American and White voters,” Lambe wrote. “Put simply, we cannot win 270 electoral college votes or win Congress without prioritizing the diverse labor coalition that represents Nevada.”

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Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that brings journalists into local newsrooms to cover undercover topics. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.

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