Nervous Nevada avoids an Iowa-like debacle (opinion)

I guess that’s what millions of dollars in campaign spending make you earn. Steyer leaves Nevada as a runner-up and impassable. But he bought so much publicity here, he rented space in my son’s brain.

As Nevadan I speak for my state when I say thank God that it’s over. Now we can relax. The anguished debacle of Iowa has not been repeated. Contrary to the expected chaos, our caucuses have been ordered, well looked after and a positive experience – at least in my district, and I have not read or heard anything else from the state.

The decision of the Democratic Party of Nevada to vote in advance on the caucus has made the day itself much less chaotic than in previous years, with shorter lines, great organization and, if the first numbers hold up a dramatic recovery in participation.

As a bonus, from my point of view, my neighborhood has become shamelessly progressive, with two thirds of all votes on Sanders or Warren. The result was, in effect, a three-way tie between Sanders, Warren and Biden, and the trio placed in that order in the raw totals with only a few votes separating each candidate.

Most people were ready to vote, but there were still undecided voters in my caucus district, including me. I have been anguished between Warren or Sanders, whom I consider both the best people to face the most important issue in our country: our president is a corrupt liar, whose policies promote hatred – racial and otherwise.

In my district, I volunteered to be the secretary and count the votes for the district captain. The iPad software worked perfectly, adding the initial vote to the person count, clear and easy to follow. At each step, the captain asked if everyone agreed, before continuing.

I worked hard to shake hands and tell my friends and neighbors how much I enjoyed introducing them, regardless of who they supported. There were some tense moments when people didn’t understand the process or why a candidate was not “viable”, like Pete Buttigieg and Steyer in my district.

I felt the citizen’s duty to be loving and kind to the people who live in my neighborhood. There were some angry people when Buttigieg and Steyer didn’t make the cut, but they all seemed to take it well and moved seamlessly on their second choice.

Each conversation about the candidates revolved around the catastrophic nightmare currently residing in Washington. People didn’t use his name. They called it “the orange one” or something else, more colorful expressions. There were as many opinions on how to beat Trump as there were humans here, but the emphasis was on being authentic with ourselves.

Brad Truax, a retired teacher from Clark County school district, provocative for Buttigieg, summed it up for me. I asked him about all the political punditry going on, and he insisted that people vote for their conscience. “You should go with who you think will become the best president,” he said.

The strategy of having a first caucus paid for Nevada. It seems that the early vote has increased the turnout. He did it in my district, which went from just over 60 votes four years ago to just under 90. It doesn’t look like much, but replicated across the state, numbers matter.

I came to the caucus favoring Sanders but open to Warren. I thought a consensus candidate might be possible for us, but after seeing the huge numbers in my caucus, I got stuck with Sanders while my wife went looking for Warren. Sanders ended up winning the caucus across the state. At the time of this writing, Warren, Biden and Buttigieg competed for second place.

There had been real excitement for Warren in Nevada after his devastating destruction of Mike Bloomberg in Wednesday’s debate. Warren also had impressive surrogates across Reno. On Thursday I spoke to Congresswoman Debra Haaland of New Mexico, who made a strong step for Warren. “Dream big, fight hard and defend working families and women,” he said.

I’m glad Nevada has had its say. We are a truly diverse state, full of Latins, Asians and Pacific Islanders, gold miners, cowpokes, African Americans, liberals, libertarians and (guilty) gamblers.

I think we are a strong representation of America as a whole. We should always be one of the states leading to the vote, but such a big responsibility comes with frayed nerves, lost sleep and fear of failure. And if you’re not careful, Tom Steyer will haunt your dreams.


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