RENO, Nev. — Nevada Republicans have decided to move up their presidential caucuses to stay ahead of Florida's newly scheduled Jan. 31 primary, a move that will cost the state party half of its delegates to the GOP's national convention.
Executive board members voted Saturday night in a special telephone conference meeting to hold the caucuses sometime in January instead of February, saying it was worth the price to have more influence on the nomination as an early voting state.
Nevada GOP national Committeewoman Heidi Smith said Sunday that she was the lone dissenter in the vote to move up the caucuses from Feb. 18, when they had tentatively been scheduled. She noted Nevada still would have been the first state in the West to vote by sticking to a February date.
"We still would have maintained our influence in the nominating process and attracted the presidential candidates," Smith said. "I thought it would be best to keep our full contingent of convention delegates."
But other board members thought it was more important to have the nation's third presidential vote after Iowa and New Hampshire than to retain the state's full slate of 28 national delegates.
"The likelihood of it (nomination) coming down to the convention is really remote," said David Gallagher, the state party's executive director. "The bottom line is we'll have more influence by holding our caucuses after Iowa and New Hampshire."
No specific new date in January was immediately set for the 2012 caucuses.
Under Nevada GOP rules, the caucuses are held the Saturday after the New Hampshire primary. New Hampshire has yet to set its primary date.
Some party leaders think a solution can be reached so Nevada doesn't lose half of its delegates to the national convention.
But Smith, a member of the convention's Rules Committee, disagreed. "There's absolutely no way to reverse that. The rules have to apply to Nevada as well as all the other states," she said.
Nevada Republicans moved up the date of their caucuses after Florida decided Friday to hold its Republican presidential primary on Jan. 31, snubbing a party rule against fast-track delegate-selection for 2012 and costing Florida half of its national convention delegates.
Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina are the only states allowed to go before March 6 under Republican and Democratic party rules.
Florida's move thwarts efforts by both major political parties to delay presidential primaries and caucuses. Their aim has been to avoid a repeat of the 2008 scenario, when states jumped ahead of each other at that time in attempts to increase their influence in the process.