Nevada helped Democrats keep the Senate in 2022. Now, Democrats there are pushing again to be the first state to weigh in on the party’s presidential nominees.
In a memo penned by Nevada Democratic strategist Rebecca Lambe and shared first with POLITICO, she wrote the 2022 midterms “strengthened” the state’s case to be first, arguing that “no other state meets every key aspect of the DNC’s own criteria for the early window of diversity, competitiveness, and accessibility except Nevada.”
Nevada, along with a handful of other states, is vying to be the first state in a reimagined presidential nominating calendar in 2024 and beyond, after the Democratic National Committee reopened the process earlier this year. Dozens of states applied to join the early state lineup — currently Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina — as the DNC sought to further diversify its slate of early states.
“The voters who make up our electorate represent the future of the Democratic Party if we want to win national elections: working class Latino, Black, Asian American, Native American, and white voters,” Lambe’s memo continued. “Nevada looks like America — and Nevada going first will help Democrats win future presidential elections, more so than any other state under consideration.”
The memo will be circulated on Tuesday night to “interested parties and decision-makers,” including members of the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee, according to a source familiar with Nevada Democrats’ plans. The rules committee, which has been charged with shaking up the calendar, will meet Dec. 1-3 in Washington, D.C., where they are expected to move forward a proposal for the 2024 primary calendar.
Her memo took implicit shots at two other states under consideration for the first place slot: New Hampshire and Michigan.
Lambe didn’t cite them by name, but she noted, in the section titled, “the state that goes first matters,” that “if we disproportionately focus on a state with more highly educated, more affluent, and less representative voters, then we are setting our party up for long-term failure.”
New Hampshire, which has held the first-in-the-nation primary for decades and is vying to leapfrog Iowa, is significantly whiter and has a higher concentration of college-educated voters.
Michigan, meanwhile, dramatically increased its chances of jumping into the early window by flipping its state legislature and reelecting Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. It would take a new state law to move the primary date there. But it’s a bigger state that’s never hosted an early presidential primary.
“If we take a gamble on a state that is too big and too risky in the first spot, then we could skew the entire early window and undermine the primary calendar,” Lambe wrote.
Much of Lambe’s memo focused on how Nevada fits into the DNC’s own criteria for the states it wants in the early window. She argued that Nevada is the most diverse state — racially, economically and regionally. It’s also a consistently competitive battleground state with broad, accessible voting laws.
And it has a small population, which she argued would provide “an early test without breaking the bank and a level playing field for all types of candidates” to run for president.
Lambe, who along with Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen has led the charge for Nevada’s elevation, served as the late Sen. Harry Reid’s top political lieutenant in the state for decades.
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