Sunday, April 08, 2007

LA Times Goes to Elko

Scott Martelle has a report about the Democratic presidential caucus in Nevada in today's Los Angeles Times with two focuses. One is on the decision to bring in organizers from Iowa to run the Nevada Caucus:

Wary of a repeat of the 2004 Democratic caucuses, in which unprepared organizers were overwhelmed by a record turnout, the Nevada Democratic Party is drafting veterans of Iowa's famous caucuses to direct its Jan. 19 nominating campaign — including building a new precinct-level organization and adapting a computerized tabulation system initially designed for Iowa.

The party plans to spend more than $2 million as Nevada moves to second on the 2008 Democratic primary/caucus calendar in an effort to reverse its largely irrelevant past role in determining the party's presidential front-runner. Organizers say they expect up to 100,000 of the state's 494,000 registered Democrats to take part, an exponential increase over the 8,000 who turned out in 2004 — itself a record.

"It definitely will be much bigger than last time around," said Jean M. Hessburg, the former Iowa Democratic Party executive director hired to oversee the Nevada caucus. "Being one of the first four early states does gin up turnout beyond anyone's experience in Nevada."

The other focus is on Elko. Yup, the big guys in the traditional media are taking note of the rurals, actually venturing beyond the glitz of Vegas. Here's part of his take:

But some Democrats are champing at the bit — and surprised by what they're finding. A few weeks ago, the Elko County Democratic Party announced that it would start lining up volunteers at its regular March meeting at the Red Lion casino. For local Democrats — who are outnumbered 2 to 1 by Republicans — it was like a spymaster's summons to come in from the cold.

"There were people that walked through that door who were Democrats, and that you never knew," said Duane Jones, owner of an outdoor clothing store who volunteered to chair his precinct's caucus. "It's nice to be around some people with the same feelings and who have the same views."

It is in places like Elko County where the Democrats hope to make their biggest inroads — in part because such places have been dominated by Republicans for years.

Maybe the gamble will work and Democrats will actually be able to make inroads in the rurals. One can only hope. Naturally, this won't happen if the candidates don't show up. So, it'll be interesting who'll be the first to tour the Nevada outside of Clark and Washoe Counties. I'm betting on Bill Richardson.

Read Scott Martelle's whole article here.

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