Jim Clark: Recapping the NV caucuses for Incline Village (opinion
Jim Clark is a weekly opinion columnist for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper.
It’s over. Nevada Republicans and Democrats have completed their quadrennial presidential preference caucuses (statewide voting processes run solely by volunteers of the political parties), and we’re none the worse for wear.
According to media reports, the Democratic Party kind of got the worst of it (see 2-21-16 Reno Gazette-Journal article “A Raucous Caucus”), but to be fair, that party’s processes were more convoluted than the GOP’s, so they experienced more delays and confusion.
Sen. Harry Reid (D – NV) unleashed his vaunted turnout machine to cinch Hillary Clinton’s narrow win, but statewide Democrat turnout (80,000) paled in comparison to their last contested presidential caucus (2008), where 120,000 showed up.
By comparison Republicans were overjoyed. Unlike the Democrats, once voter registration was verified, GOP voters could cast ballots and go home. Nonetheless many stayed around to discuss candidates with their neighbors and many signed up for their party’s central committee and/or to be county convention delegates.
Nevada Republicans were also thrilled with their turnout — 75,000, or 19% (compared with 44,000 or 11% in 2008 and 33,000 or 8% in 2012.
These percentages may sound anemic but remember there is no early or absentee voting with a caucus. Experts point out that a healthy primary election or caucus turnout is a harbinger of success in the fall election.
GOP voters hope they’re right. Also, in Washoe County there were over 300 seventeen-year-olds who registered Republican and were allowed to vote in the caucus.
In Incline/Crystal Bay, there were even broader Republican smiles. The GOP caucused at Incline Middle School and despite the annual migration of our snowbirds to warmer climes local Republican turnout was over 26%.
While ballot integrity necessitated long voting lines, the process went relatively smoothly. Voting started at 6 p.m. closed at 8:30 p.m., and in the end, locals favored Trump over Rubio by 273 to 208, the rest of the votes scattered among other candidates.
There are many people to thank for the vastly improved 2016 GOP caucus process. First and foremost is a lady who isn’t even a Republican … Middle School Site Manager Sharon Kennedy.
The middle school had earlier hosted the Democratic caucus and despite the disruptions that hosting both political parties imposed, Sharon was graciously accommodating and generous with her time, allowing GOP volunteers ample opportunity to tour the school in advance and on the night of the caucus to convert it to a polling place.
Our community is fortunate to have an educator like her. The Incline Booster’s Club sold food, which was much appreciated.
Turning now to GOP volunteers, the field general was unquestionably Carol Del Carlo. She worked furiously to recruit volunteers, set up procedures, attend county and state GOP caucus training meetings, arrange dry runs, register voters, foresee bottlenecks, you name it.
She left no detail to chance. Carol was ably supported by her steering committee Linda and Paul Smith, Patricia Moser Morris and your humble columnist. Lee Weber donated her marketing talents, including placing ads in the Bonanza.
Caucus night volunteers included Charlotte and Chet Curtis, Barbara and George Frederic, Sandra and Dave Norton, Katie and Roger Christensen, Diane Jones and Gary Stewart, Claire and Steve Price, Pat and Dan Beadle, Cheryl and Dennis Haney, Shirley and Ray Appel, Patti Clark, Jean and Larry Southern, Monte and Janet Klein, Diane Brown, Louise Cooper, Kathy Congistre, Donna Kwachak, Wend Schaefer, Gene Brockman, Gayle Holderer, John Hagy, Peter Todoroff, Nancy Manter, Jane Barnhart, Jim McConnell, Tim Callicrate and Suzi Cornell.
The next step is to create a record of everything that went right or wrong on caucus night so we can be ready again in 2020.
Carol would appreciate comments, questions or suggestions from any participant on how thing could be improved. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates. He has served on the Washoe and Nevada GOIP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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