Indy 2020: Candidate visits in the new year, a finalized presidential preference card and musings on nonpartisans

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Good morning, and welcome to Indy 2020, a biweekly newsletter focused on the 2020 presidential election in Nevada. A reminder that email subscribers get early access to this newsletter, so be sure to subscribe and tell your friends. It’ll be peachy.

Happy New Year! Though it feels like it has been 2020 for ages now, it is in fact only seven days into the year — and 46 days until the Jellicle Ball, er… Nevada’s Feb. 22 caucus.

Who will they vote for? Will it be Jennyanydots? Gus? Mr. Mistoffelees? Grizabella?

I continue to make no apologies for liking “Cats.” (Though I’d say “Dark Waters” or “Little Women” were still probably my favorite holiday watches.)

As always, a reminder to reach out to me with any tips, story ideas, comments, suggestions and your predictions of who’s going to the Heaviside Layer at megan@thenvindy.com.

Without further ado, a download of the recent 2020 happenings in Nevada.


TOP OF MIND

Nevada’s presidential preference card is set: The Nevada State Democratic Party announced last week the candidates who filed to appear on the presidential preference card for the state’s Feb. 22 caucus. They are: Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, former Vice President Joe Biden, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, billionaire Tom Steyer, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, self-help author Marianne Williamson and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was the only Democratic presidential hopeful to not file — in line with his strategy to skip campaigning in the four early voting states. A spokeswoman told the AP that the campaign has “enormous respect for the Democratic primary process and many friends in those states, but we are running a broad-based, national campaign to beat Donald Trump and win in November.”

Biden’s Nevada bundlers: Two days after Christmas, the former vice president released a list of more than 200 donors who have raised at least $25,000 for his campaign, known as bundlers. His Nevada bundlers include William Hill US CEO Joseph Asher, prominent personal injury attorney Robert Eglet (who hosted a fundraiser for Biden in Las Vegas in December), Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group Senior Managing Partner Thomas Kaplan, businesswoman Heather Murren (wife of MGM Resorts CEO Jim Murren) and Dr. Rachakonda Prabhu, a pulmonologist in Las Vegas.

New TV ads in Nevada: Patrick, still a newcomer in the 2020 Democratic presidential field, went up with his first television and digital ad in Nevada and three other early states on Monday. Per this tweet from CNN’s David Wright, the buy in Nevada is very very very small — $167,990 total, with $100,000 in New Hampshire, $60,000 in South Carolina, and the rest split between Iowa and New Hampshire. In the 30-second ad, which you can see here, Patrick makes the argument that it’s “not too late to save the American dream” — or, by extension, support him. (Patrick says he jumped in the race late because of his wife’s cancer diagnosis, something the two of them explain on-camera in the ad.)

Steyer launched a new immigration-focused ad in Nevada on Tuesday, featuring a clip of him speaking on the issue at the December Democratic debate.

“I think it’s important to note that this president is not against immigration,” Steyer says in the ad. “He’s against immigration of non-white people.”

Buttigieg is also going up with a new statewide TV ad on cable on Tuesday focusing on his “Medicare for all who want it” alternative to a single-payer health care system. His first Nevada ad started running in December.

Klobuchar is the first candidate to visit Nevada in 2020: Klobuchar attended three events across Nevada on Saturday. She hosted meet and greets in Minden at the Douglas County Dems Office, at the Sundance Bookstore in Reno and at her campaign headquarters in Las Vegas.

In a gaggle after her Las Vegas event, I asked Klobuchar what her path to victory here looks like. (She’s been polling around 2 and 3 percent here, while she’s been slowly trending upwards in the high single digits in Iowa.)

“The path to victory is what we’re seeing all over the country, and that is we’re seeing more and more support,” Klobuchar said. “We had our first double digit national poll. I’m well aware that I am not as well known as some of the other candidates in this race, especially in this state, and that means I need to increase my name identification, I need to get out there. That’s what we’re doing today.”

It will be interesting to see how Klobuchar fares in Nevada in the next couple of weeks now that she has a team on the ground and is building momentum in Iowa. Two women who braved the brisk, 57-degree Las Vegas afternoon to hear Klobuchar speak told me they’re interested in the Minnesota senator, though neither has committed yet to a candidate.

Ann Marie Bleach, a 77-year-old from Las Vegas, told me that she started off backing Warren, switched to Buttigieg, went back to Warren and is now leaning toward Klobuchar.

“She has a very good message,” Bleach told me.

Linda Switzer, who works for Wynn Macau and lives in Summerlin, was also open to Klobuchar but said that right now the only one she thinks can beat President Donald Trump is Biden.

“I will do anything in my power to take this man out of office,” she said.

Both said that a candidate’s ability to defeat Trump will be the deciding factor in their caucus votes.

I also met a committed Klobuchar supporter, Aaron Sroka, a doctor from Las Vegas. He told me that he prefers a moderate candidate and thinks she’s done well on the debate stage. Biden, he said, has “a lot of baggage, unfortunately” and that Trump would “kill him because of Hunter (Biden),” the former vice president’s son. He said that Buttigieg is “okay, but he has no national experience,” and ruled out Warren and Sanders early, in part because of their support for Medicare for all.

“They don’t understand a lot of stuff,” Sroka told me. “You can’t dump the system all of a sudden.”

The might of the nonpartisans: As the boss reported on Twitter over the weekend, Republicans are now a smaller group in Clark County than nonpartisans (independents) and those registered with smaller political parties combined. As of noon on Monday, there were 460,352 Democrats, 318,880 Republicans, and 319,176 nonpartisans/others, according to the Clark County Election Department’s website.

Republicans still have the edge in Washoe County, though. As of Jan. 2, there were 102,319 Republicans in Washoe, 98,823 Democrats, and 79,773 nonpartisans/others, according to the Washoe County Registrar of Voters website.

The secretary of state also reported last week statewide voter registration numbers: 602,999 Democrats, 523,669 Republicans, and 448,072 nonpartisans/others. That’s a 5.04 percentage point advantage for Democrats over Republicans.

So, what does it all mean? Well, for some context the Democrat lead over Republicans in 2014 (red wave election) was 5.1 and in the blue wave years of 2016 and 2018 it was 6.1 and 4.8, respectively. But the share of nonpartians/others has grown significantly as a percentage of the total number of registered voters. They represented 25.6 percent of voters in 2014, 27.2 percent in 2016, 28.2 percent in 2018 and 28.5 percent today.

And compared to the number of voters during the last election, there are 4,825 more Democrats, 418 more Republicans and 8,569 more nonpartisans/others.

We’ll be keeping an eye on these voter registration totals as automatic voter registration at the DMV — meaning voters have to opt-out of registering to vote instead of having to opt-in — kicks in this month.

Steyer’s post-Christmas trip to Las Vegas: Steyer was in Las Vegas Dec. 26 to 28. While in town, he attended a meet and greet with local business leaders at an event hosted by ArtKore Print Group, a Latino-owned print shop in Las Vegas. (He was also endorsed by the print shop’s founder, Rassiel Godinez.)

Booker’s pre-New Year’s trip to Reno: Booker returned to Reno on Dec. 30 to attend a Latino community leader roundtable and host a “Conversation with Cory” event, featuring Assemblywoman Sarah Peters and Reno City Councilwoman Jenny Brekhus. Per CBS News’s Alex Tin, more than 300 people attended the latter event, and some tears were shed as Booker shared an emotional story about seeing someone shot in Newark.


CAMPAIGN NUGGETS

Staffing changes and office openings

  • Warren opened her 11th campaign office in Southwest Las Vegas on Sunday. Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon, a national surrogate for the campaign, attended the office opening (as did state Sen. Dallas Harris) and Rippon also hosted a house party in Las Vegas.
  • Steyer opened his third campaign office in the state in Summerlin on Saturday. (The campaign also has offices in Las Vegas and Reno.) The office opening was attended by his son, Sam Steyer, who also attended other events on his father’s behalf over the weekend, including attending a caucus training on Friday and speaking at Abundant Peace Church on Sunday.
  • State Sen. Yvanna Cancela, who endorsed Biden back in April, has joined the former vice president’s team as Nevada senior advisor.
  • Buttigieg has added additional staff in Nevada including Drake Ridge as Nevada labor constituency director and Ishmael Cody-Harvell as Nevada black constituency director. (Ridge previously worked on Gov. Steve Sisolak’s campaign.) The campaign also relocated Cat O’Connor, national veterans engagement director, to Nevada.

New endorsements

  • Clark County School District Board of Trustees President Lola Brooks endorsed Sanders for president last week.
  • Steyer was endorsed by Reverend Wilfred Moore of the Abundant Peace Church in Las Vegas.
  • Buttigieg received the endorsements of more than 20 community leaders in Nevada last week, including from Brian Wadsworth, a commissioner on the Nevada Indian Commission.
  • Yang has been endorsed by Rutt Premsrirut, a philanthropist and one of the founders of the Las Vegas Children Foundation, and Tom Julpas Kruesopon, a leader in the Thai community.
  • For the latest on presidential endorsements, check out our tracker.

Upcoming candidate visits

  • Biden will return to Nevada this weekend. He’ll be in Reno on Friday and Las Vegas on Saturday.
  • Buttigieg will also return to Las Vegas this weekend. His only announced stop so far is a rally at Silverado High School on Saturday at 3 p.m.
  • Klobuchar is slated to return to Las Vegas on Saturday, unless impeachment proceedings interfere.
  • Yang will participate in a virtual town hall hosted by the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus on Friday evening.
  • Steyer will return to Nevada for the second-ever Native American Presidential Forum on Jan. 15 and address members of the Culinary Union on Jan. 16.
  • For the latest on presidential candidate visits, check out our visit tracker.

Surrogate stops

  • Jason Mraz and The Mowgli’s performed at First Friday in Downtown Las Vegas on Jan. 3 on behalf of the Sanders campaign. Campaign co-chair Nina Turner also spoke at the event.
  • Steyer’s wife Kat Taylor will campaign in Las Vegas on Thursday. She will attend a luncheon with the Women’s Democratic Club of Clark County, an AAPI women’s roundtable with the Asian Community Resource Center, and a happy hour at Atomic Liquors.
  • Pulse Nightclub survivor and gun violence prevention activist Brandon Wolf, trans and civil rights activist Ashlee Marie Preston and New York state Sen. Gustavo Rivera will campaign for Warren in Reno and Las Vegas this weekend, including stops at Cardenas Market and an LGBTQ+ youth forum.

Other election news

  • Booker announced on Monday a paid internship program in Nevada, with interns working 15 hours a week at $15 an hour.
  • The Nevada Republican Party is hosting two fundraising dinners this weekend featuring the party’s Chairman Michael McDonald, former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller and Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for Trump 2020. The events will be held at Fabrizio’s in Downtown Las Vegas and the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno on Friday and Saturday nights, respectively.
  • Though not explicitly election related, President Trump‘s elder daughter Ivanka Trump will join a keynote discussion on “the path to the future of work” at CES today.
  • Yang supporters have been touting the tech entrepreneur’s policies on cryptocurrency, data privacy and net neutrality at CES.

DOWN BALLOT NEWS

Horsford boosted by new ad buy: Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford is benefitting from a new multi-million dollar ad buy touting members of Congress who recently greenlit a Democratic-backed omnibus bill that seeks to lower prescription drug prices in part by allowing the government to negotiate those prices through Medicare. My colleague Jacob Solis has more.


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