Nevada the center of attention as caucus nears |

Nevada the center of attention as caucus nears

INCLINE VILLAGE ” With Nevada’s Republican and Democratic caucuses slated for Saturday, presidential candidates from both parties have been viewing Northern Nevada as a vital campaign stop.

“It’s action-packed,” said Erik Herzik, chair of the department of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.

After coming in first in the New Hampshire primary and third in the Iowa caucus, Hillary Clinton’s campaign is looking closely at Nevada, said campaign spokeswoman Hilarie Grey.

“Nationally, we are looking at a tie-breaker,” Grey said. “There is more interest in Nevada as one of the newer early states. It’s very exciting for the state.”

-Clinton visited Reno on Saturday, and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, campaigned on her behalf in a Minden appearance Sunday night.

Barack Obama made a Northern Nevada tour Monday, including stops in Reno and Carson City.

“I think as the third state in the Democratic primary process, Nevada is going to have a real voice,” said Obama spokeswoman Shannon Gilson.

Because of the dynamics of the Iowa and New Hampshire races, Nevada could become a real battleground for the Democratic presidential hopefuls, according to many of the state’s political experts.

“Due to this current shift, Nevada could play an increasingly important role, especially because of the vacillation in the polls,” said Sierra Nevada College Humanities Professor Dan O’Bryan.

Saturday’s caucus could help play a deciding role in the Democratic primary season, especially because of Iowa and New Hampshire’s results, Herzik said.

“It made Nevada important again,” Herzik said. “Because you have split winners, there is no front-runner, and so every race now is shaping how the front-runner and the also-rans are perceived.”

Republican candidates spent the week gearing up for their caucuses or straw polls Saturday.

“Nevada’s role is a voice for the entire West Coast,” said Zac Moyle, executive director of the Nevada Republican Party. “We look at ourselves as the battleground for the entire intermountain West. We hope the candidates will start paying attention to Nevada.”

Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul visited Reno and Carson City on Monday.

“The Ron Paul campaign realizes that this is an important state,” said Paul campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Terhune. “There are a lot of delegates up for grabs.”

Incline Village resident Steve Bollinger was at the Ron Paul call center in Sparks when Paul visited Monday afternoon.

“It was very fun and rewarding, and we chit-chatted about things,” Bollinger said.

However, many state political experts agreed that the caucus focus was stronger in the Democratic Party than in the Republican. Many of the Republican hopefuls have focused their attention on the South Carolina and Michigan primaries, said Kenneth Fernandez, a political science professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His colleague, Dave Damore, agreed.

“You are starting to see some scrambling, but beyond that, you don’t see any visits from the candidates,” Damore said. “You don’t have the effort on the Republican side to make it a big event.”

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