Guy W. Farmer: Harry Reid saves Hillary Clinton in Nevada

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

Chad Lundquist/Nevada Appeal

I’m sick and tired of hearing about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “big win” in Nevada’s Democrat Party caucuses last weekend. Mrs. Clinton defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders by five percentage points in a race she led by 25 points only a month ago.

That’s a “big win?” I don’t think so because Mrs. Clinton lost 10 of Nevada’s 17 counties, including Carson City and Washoe. She won populous Southern Nevada, including all six Las Vegas Strip casino caucus sites, but lost Northern Nevada and the cow counties.

I agree with fellow political columnist Jon Ralston, who credited outgoing Senator Minority Leader Harry Reid and Las Vegas Culinary Union members for Mrs. Clinton’s narrow victory.

“I’d like to congratulate the winner of the Nevada Democratic Caucus: Harry Reid,” Ralston wrote. “Clinton may not have won Nevada if Reid had not interceded ...”

That’s true, and it means the high-powered Reid voter turnout machine is operating at full throttle in Southern Nevada, where the votes are, right through November’s general election.

Congressman Dr. Joe Heck has his work cut out for him if he hopes to defeat former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez-Masto for Reid’s Senate seat in November. I think Heck has a good shot to prevail unless GOP poison pill Sharron Angle jumps into the primary. She illustrates how Republicans manage to lose perfectly winnable elections.

I attended my caucus — yes, I’m still a registered Democrat — at Carson Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 20. You could say it was grass roots democracy in action, or you could say it was a disorganized mess. Both statements are true. The line to enter the school was more than four blocks long and there were no provisions for elderly and/or handicapped caucus-goers. A couple of senior citizens, including a good friend of mine, almost collapsed as we stood in the sun.

Once inside, we were given a candidate preference form and directed to a room designated for our precinct. I filled out the form but the precinct captain said she couldn’t accept it until the caucus was over. I slipped the form to a friend who promised my vote for former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley would count. Yes, I know O’Malley dropped out last month, but he was my candidates because I simply can’t vote for a 74-year-old Socialist or a prevaricating women’s rights advocate married to, in my opinion, a serial womanizer.

But I’ll say this for Bernie: His people distributed free muffins as we stood in line. If I was a true capitalist entrepreneur, I’d park my food truck outside the school. Caucus-goers were hungry by the time they reached the school doors. I declined a muffin to avoid a conflict of interest.

On Tuesday evening a record Nevada Republican caucus turnout propelled multibillionaire businessman Donald Trump to an overwhelming 22-point victory over his nearest challengers, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. In fact, the reality TV star garnered more votes than Rubio and Cruz combined. Ohio Gov. John Kasich and retired neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson were in single digits and should drop out sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the rude, egomaniacal Trump is a shoo-in for the GOP presidential nomination.

Based on my experience, I much prefer orderly presidential primaries to disorganized caucuses. Primaries cost more but more accurately reflect voter preferences. That’s why the 2017 Nevada Legislature should pass a bill supporting presidential primaries. Meanwhile, Trump can wrap up the GOP nomination on Tuesday when voters in 12 states go to the polls. If that happens, we’ll have to choose between Trump and Mrs. Clinton. Help!

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.


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