Commentary

To build Latino power, make Nevada the nation’s first primary

never run or trot on pavement

Nevada Democratic Assemblyman Edgar Flores, one of the authors, organized a horse parade for his 2020 reelection campaign. (Photo: Jeniffer Solis)

The road to the White House goes through Nevada, but we are not only a must-win November battleground for anyone who wants to win the presidency. We have also become a prominent and battle-tested early state in the presidential primary since 2008.

Now, after four cycles as the first Western state, Nevada has another opportunity to move up the primary calendar. This summer, the Democratic National Committee is considering changing the order of the presidential primary calendar. We believe the time is right to make Nevada the first state on the presidential primary calendar for 2024 and beyond.

The Latino community – in Nevada and nationally – is crucial for any candidate who wants to win the presidency. It is a key part of what makes our state such a compelling choice for this national distinction.

The order of the early states is much more than just dates on a calendar. It is about demonstrating our values. We say voters of color and immigrant voices matter, but are we giving them a fair and equal say? We say Democrats are pro-labor, but are we ensuring candidates have to visit union halls and earn the support of union workers? We say standing up for democracy is paramount, but are we leading by example on prioritizing access to the ballot box?

Nevada is the answer to those questions.

Our majority-minority state is a microcosm of the country at large. With a population that is nearly 30 percent Hispanic or Latino according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Nevada is one of the top states in the country for an increasingly important constituency. Latinos deserve more than lip service and campaign rhetoric – Democrats must show that our families are critical members of the party’s coalition.

Putting Nevada’s Latino electorate center stage would send a clear message and set candidates up for success by ensuring they are responsive to the concerns of our community.

Nevada is also more than 10 percent Black, nearly 10 percent Asian American, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander, and home to 27 different Tribal nations. As our party continues to look for answers to mobilizing and winning over voters of color, a truly diverse state voting first would give our communities a much bigger seat at the table.

Moving Nevada first would also push critical policy issues into the national conversation. As immigration reform stalls once again in Washington, Nevada has one of the highest undocumented populations per capita in the country. As the climate crisis worsens, Nevada is both the driest state in the nation and a national leader on renewable energy. As travel and tourism continue to recover, no state’s economy has faced more headwinds from COVID or rebounded faster.

The strong unions who built Nevada are another example of our diversity. From our construction workers to housekeepers on the Las Vegas Strip, labor is an important part of Nevada’s DNA. Nevada’s rate of workers represented by unions is above the national average and other current early states.

Nevada also offers a representative mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities that reflects the country. Thanks to our accessible media markets and smaller population, Nevada remains a proving ground for candidates that won’t break the bank – a place where retail politics and a strong grassroots organization can make a real difference.

And while so many states make it more difficult to vote, Nevada has been going in the opposite direction. Not only has the Nevada Legislature moved us from a party-run caucus to a more accessible state-run presidential primary for the 2024 election, voters will also have same-day registration, more than two weeks of early voting, and universal vote by mail.

The Battle Born State is ready for this spotlight. We urge the members of the Democratic National Committee to join us in supporting Nevada’s bid to host the next first in the nation primary.

Democrats in the Nevada Hispanic Legislative Caucus signers: Chair and Assemblywoman Selena Torres, Assemblyman Edgar Flores, Senator Dina Neal, Senator Mo Denis, Assemblywoman Sandra Jauregui, Assemblywoman Bea Duran, Assemblywoman Elaine Marzola, Assemblywoman Cecelia González, Assemblywoman Teresa Benitez-Thompson, Senator Fabian Donate, and Assemblywoman Susie Martinez

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