Legislature should butt out of dictating to political parties

A bill has been introduced in Carson City to keep Nevada “First in the West,” by establishing major political party presidential primaries in January of an election year.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, who introduced the  bill Monday, was quoted as saying, “The state has enjoyed the media attention and focus on issues that are important to Nevada.”

Senate Bill 212 would provide “in certain circumstances for a presidential preference primary election to be held in conjunction with the statewide primary election; revising the date of the statewide primary election to the Tuesday immediately preceding the last Tuesday in January of each even-numbered year” or earlier, if some other state jumps the gun.

Instead of having state and local partisan races last a few months in the summer and fall, they’d stretch out for more than a year, because campaigning would have to start months before the primary.

Legislative building in Carson City

The Reno Gazette-Journal editorialized that a presidential primary may make sense, but a January statewide primary is just too darned early.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s resident pundit, when he’s not working for a TV station, gleefully proclaimed: “Best of all? The party-run caucuses would be eliminated, and along with them the mistakes that come when political parties try to run ballot-counting operations.”

He concluded that, “But having had a taste of early presidential candidate picking, Nevada should keep its newfound clout.”

No one, but no one has stepped back and asked the one vital question: What business is it of the Democrat-dominated state Legislature as to how or when any political party nominates its candidates?

They won’t have a primary for the Libertarian, Green, Independent American or Communist parties, will they?

A political party should be free to choose its nominees in any way they see fit — primary (paid for by the party, not the taxpayers who are members of some other party or no party), caucus, convention, smoke-filled back room or “American Idol”-style voting via text message.

Political parties in Nevada have become largely irrelevant. Candidates pull on a cloak of party identity and self-select. The same for party members who simply sign up with the registrar of voters and instantly become party members without ever attending a meeting of the membership or voting on a platform or even stating a political philosophy.

Now-Gov. Brian Sandoval did not go to the Republican Party leadership in 2010 and say Jim Gibbons needed to be ousted. No, he put his name on the ballot, ran a campaign dominated by paid consultants and television advertising and fliers in the mail. He was elected by nominal Republicans, and is governing as a nominal Republican.

As for the value of a January primary — and all that media attention — to the typical Nevadan, I don’t see it.

It will just mean more money stuffed into the overstuffed pockets of people like Channel 3’s owner Jim Rogers and the hotels that will host visiting candidates.

But the bottom line is: The Legislature has no business telling any political party how and when to choose their nominees. Butt out.

Or they could just declare all races non-partisan — like the current Las Vegas City Council primary. No official party designation will appear on the ballot, but the Clark County GOP has endorsed three registered Republicans: Bob Beers, Stavros Anthony and Suzette LaGrange. That is the party’s prerogative.

The state should not be controlling the political party processes.

I recall how Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, during his term in office but prior to his term in prison, plotted to eliminate the Republican Party by going to an open primary system. When the smoke cleared, the first open primary governor was Dave Treen, a Republican.

Today, the Republican Party holds the House, Senate and the governorship.

Hmmmm, do you think the Democrat-controlled Legislature might entertain an open primary system?


5 comments on “Legislature should butt out of dictating to political parties

  1. Athos says:

    Oh my. The savior of the CCSD is resigning? And what’s to become of his side-kick with the $750K contract?

    Vinnie is correct. These indoctrination centers are poison to our free society. Of course, 150 years ago, some clown named Marx said the same thing. (and no, not Groucho!)

  2. Athos says:

    Actually, in staying on topic, is there any way to have our legislature meet once every 10 years?

  3. From a recent John L. Smith column:

    Segerblom’s idea makes a lot of sense, but his effort also calls to mind a line attributed to a young Mark Twain back when he was the legislative correspondent for the Territorial Enterprise of Virginia City: “It’s far better the legislature meet every 60 years for two days than every two years for 60 days.”

    Although former state Archivist Guy Rocha questions whether Twain actually wrote those words, I’ve yet to hear anyone argue the truth of the message. …


  4. brucefeher says:

    Politicians just can’t help themselves; they have to interfere and screw up as much as they possibly can otherwise what’s the point of being a politician? Certainly not to help the average citizen.

  5. […] reached a similar conclusion three years ago when lawmakers in Carson City were contemplating a bill to keep Nevada “First […]

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