LAS VEGAS – Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Friday signed a law that would make Nevada the first state to vote in the 2024 presidential primary contests, bumping Iowa and New Hampshire from their leadoff spots.
Signing the law is a gamble.
It's likely to set off maneuvering by other states, especially Iowa and New Hampshire, to move up their contests. The national political parties would need to agree to changes in the calendar, or state parties could risk losing their delegates at presidential nominating conventions.
The Democratic National Committee has not yet signaled whether it would support the calendar shakeup and isn't expected to start writing rules for its nominating process until next year. Republicans in four early presidential nominating states this week all jointly opposed the move, saying they're committed to preserving the historic schedule.
Democrats in Nevada, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, launched the push this year to boost their state after the 2020 primary contest left members of the party questioning the process. They noted Iowa's problem-plagued caucuses and the fact that the two traditional early states are overwhelmingly white, unlike Nevada.
Before he went on to win his party's nomination, President Joe Biden performed poorly in Iowa's caucuses and New Hampshire's primary. In Nevada, with a much more racially diverse population that mirrors the U.S. as a whole, he finished second.
That gave Biden momentum heading into South Carolina's primary, which then catapulted him to a string of Super Tuesday victories.
The new law changes Nevada’s contest from a party-run, in-person caucus meeting to a government-run primary election. Democrats nationally started shifting away from caucuses to primaries before 2020, citing the difficulty of attending an in-person meeting and the fiddly math involved to determine who wins the most delegates.