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Nevada GOP takes state to Supreme Court to block state-run primary

Updated August 18, 2023 - 8:07 pm

The Nevada Republican Party is taking the Silver State to the Supreme Court to block the state-run primary and is charging candidates a $55,000 fee to participate — all in an effort to preserve its time-honored tradition of holding a presidential caucus.

The party filed a notice of appeal Wednesday in the Nevada Supreme Court to block the state-run and legislatively mandated presidential primary scheduled for Feb. 6, 2024, two days before the party’s own presidential caucus.

In May, it took the state to court to fight a 2021 law that requires the Nevada secretary of state to hold a presidential preference primary election on the first Tuesday of February in a presidential election year for both major parties, unless there is only one candidate in the race.

A judge denied the party’s case, siding with Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office — representing the state — which argued the state-run primary does not prohibit the Republican Party from holding a caucus and can place whatever weight it would like on the results of the state-run election.

This week, the party announced it will hold its caucus on Feb. 8, two days after the state-run election. It also plans to hold a presidential debate ahead of the caucus.

Chairman Michael McDonald told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in an interview Friday the party will charge candidates $55,000 to participate in the caucus, but if the candidate holds an event with the Nevada Republican Party, they will knock off $20,000, he said.

That money will be used to administer the caucus, according to McDonald. It will also help candidates save money as “grassroots organizing costs less than media buys,” he said.

McDonald said the plan has been well-received by the candidates, with “not one bad comment.”

But some lesser known presidential candidates who are running smaller campaigns have expressed concerns.

Candidate Steve Laffey, a former mayor of Cranston, Rhode Island, called the price tag to participate in the caucus “exorbitant and outrageous.”

“Since Nevada only gets 26 delegates at the Republican National Convention, I have to wonder, ‘What are you thinking?’” Laffey said in an email Friday to the Review-Journal.

Ryan Binkley, a presidential candidate who is also president and CEO of an investment bank, said he will be at the caucus and probably will pay, but thinks there are other productive ways to raise money.

McDonald said the the fee to get on the ballot remains competitive when compared with fees in other states, such as South Carolina and Idaho, which are both charging $50,000.

“We aim to ensure that our fee structure is fair and accessible to all candidates, enabling a diverse range of voices to participate in our First in the West Caucus,” McDonald said in a statement.

It will also help candidates save money as “grassroots organizing costs less than media buys,” he said.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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