Nevada’s Slim Presidential Pickings

Former Florida Governor and unannounced presidential candidate Jeb Bush is holding a town hall meeting in Reno this morning. Afterwards, he’ll head to Las Vegas to deliver the keynote address at the Clark County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner.

Last week Bush hired two Nevadans ahead of his two-stop tour. The hiring of Ryan Erwin as an adviser and Scott Scheid as the campaign’s state director leading to the speculation that Bush is already running, all he need do is announce.

Erwin is a top adviser to third-term Congressman Joe Heck of Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District.  In both 2008 and 2012 Mitt Romney hired Erwin and won both Nevada GOP caucuses with more than 50 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, Scheid helped Nevada Congressman Cresent Hardy win what the local media claims was an upset over incumbent Steven Horsford in the 4th Congressional District last year.  Democrats have declared Hardy a top target in 2016.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has also been busy as he’s picked Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison as his Nevada campaign chairman. As for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton, who visited Las Vegas earlier this month already has established a campaign team in Nevada.

Amid the visits, Nevada lawmakers are reconsidering a bill to dump the state’s caucus system and replace it with a primary to choose presidential nominees. SB421, backed by Republicans, would switch the caucus to a primary scheduled on the last Tuesday in February.

The measure would reportedly maintain Nevada’s so-called influential position as one of the earliest states to nominate a presidential candidate. But it would change the selection process from a gathering of only the most motivated party activists to regular elections among all voters.

Opponents of the caucus system say the process gives an edge to ‘marginal candidates’ whose supporters can take over the gatherings. Nevada’s caucus system’s believed to favor Senator Rand Paul.

Finally, Bush supposedly has his eye on Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval as his potential vice presidential running mate. The possible Bush-Sandoval ticket came up behind the scenes at a January Republican National Committee meeting in San Diego

Bush’s staff reportedly asked Nevada officials about Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor who was re-elected in a landslide in 2014 with 70 percent of the vote. The Bush camp denied that there’s any formal vetting happening at this point.

Nevada has a history of picking presidential winners, siding with the winner every time but once in the past century. The Silver State voted twice for President Obama and twice for former President George W. Bush.

In a Gravis Marketing poll conducted in February, Bush did the worst against Clinton, 50 percent to 37 percent.

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