DeSantis will participate in the Nevada caucuses despite criticizing them | ET REALITY


Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida plans to participate in the Nevada Republican Party caucuses, his campaign said Sunday, participating in a system he and his rivals have said was designed to benefit former President Donald J. Trump.

DeSantis’ team had not previously said whether he would participate in the state’s Feb. 8 party caucuses, which Republican political officials structured to replace the state’s primary elections.

“Ron DeSantis is committed to winning every available delegate as he works toward the Republican nomination for president, and Nevada is no exception,” said Andrew Romeo, communications director for the DeSantis campaign.

In an attack on the state party, he added: “It is disappointing that the Nevada Republican Party changed the rules against the will of the people just to benefit one candidate. However, Ron DeSantis will fight to overcome these tactics.”

A statement from the party’s press office about DeSantis’ concerns said caucuses are almost exclusively how Nevada Republicans have selected their candidate for decades.

“We are aware that the Never Back Down super PAC that supports Governor Desantis was concerned about the rule changes,” the statement said. “However, his campaign never took steps to influence these rules. All official campaigns were invited to the meeting where these common sense rule changes, supported by the RNC, were voted on and overwhelmingly approved.”

Nevada officials had taken a bipartisan move to hold a primary instead of caucuses, trying to boost turnout. But GOP officials refused to accept that and decided to move forward with their own committees.

The decision to hand out all of the state’s delegates through its caucuses rather than through its primaries has been widely seen as helping Trump: he continues to have a strong hold on the party’s liveliest voters, who typically participate in such of strife.

He was influenced by Michael McDonald, the state party chairman and Trump ally, who was a false Trump elector in the state when the former president attempted to subvert the 2020 election results.

Participating in the primaries, which will be held two days earlier, on February 6, instead of the caucuses would mean that a candidate would be losing the opportunity to accumulate delegates, which are necessary to be nominated at the Republican National Convention.

Rules were also changed to prevent super PACs from sending speakers or literature to caucus sites, after Trump’s team warned state parties of potential legal challenges to allowing outside groups to play a role. DeSantis’ campaign has relied heavily on his super PAC, Never Back Down, so the rule also puts him at a disadvantage.

Trump’s team has worked aggressively with allies to change the rules in several states to make them more beneficial to him in distributing delegates.

Although the caucuses are still months away, the Nevada Republican Party’s decisions have already caused some consternation in the rest of the field. DeSantis’ team had postponed its commitment to the caucuses, while former Vice President Mike Pence decided to skip the caucuses in favor of the primaries.

DeSantis’ team is trying to show that it still plans to fight on several fronts, even with Trump far ahead in public opinion polls among Republican primary voters. The goal, campaign officials said, is to have Trump’s team fight as hard as possible for each delegate and avoid the sense of inevitability that Trump has projected for months.

To that end, DeSantis qualified for the Virgin Islands caucuses and will headline a virtual event there tomorrow. He was the first of the candidates to qualify there for the caucuses, which will be held on Feb. 8, 2024, party officials there said. He also ran in primaries in South Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia, and his team is working to field full slates in states like Tennessee.

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