Nevada is keeping its caucuses for selecting presidential nominees, disappointing supporters of several Republican presidential contenders who had hoped to shift the early-voting state to a system of primaries. Caucuses are considered favorable to candidates who have a network of highly motivated activists, and in Nevada they are seen as especially favoring Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul because of his family’s support in the state Republican party. Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval backed legislation to change to a primary, but the bill never came up for a vote before the Legislature adjourned Monday night. It was the subject of frantic horse-trading and lobbying in the state capitol in Carson City until the final minutes of the session. “I would’ve liked to have seen that get through, but it didn’t,” he told The Associated Press. “I think that would’ve attracted candidates to our state. I don’t know if it will be the same if it is a caucus.”
The state’s Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, chairman of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign in Nevada, had pushed for the bill. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who met with Sandoval during the push to ditch the caucuses, might have also been a beneficiary of a primary system.
For 2016, Bush, Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz have all signed prominent Nevada Republican operatives in recent weeks, signaling that the state will be fiercely contested, regardless of its system for picking the winner.
“We will strongly compete in every state, including the Nevada caucuses,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. Conant said Rubio’s campaign was neutral on the legislation.
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