NV Dems First in the West

C-SPAN video 
Sunday, November 17, 2019, at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

14 CANDIDATES: Bennet, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Castro, Delaney, Harris, Klobuchar, Patrick, Sanders, Sestak, Steyer, Warren, Yang.

Background:  First in the West, a fundraiser for the Nevada State Democratic Party, was one of the biggest events of the cycle in Nevada thus far, attended by about 1,600 activists.  The campaigns went all in to organize their supporters, including tabling, chanting, and sign waving.  There were also several receptions in addition to the main event.  Money raised from the First in the West goes to support the Feb. 22 caucuses, now less than 100 days away.  Each candidate had 10 minutes to speak.  Three invited candidates did not partiipate—Bullock, Gabbard and Williamson.  In between the candidates, state elected officials spoke, many of them highlighting the importance of the caucus and emphasizing the diversity of the state.  At the top of the program there was a tribute to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.  Also in town today were 35,000 runners for the Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (and half marathon).


7:10 pm: NV Dems Chair William McCurdy II
7:15 pm: Tribute to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
7:35 pm: Governor Steve Sisolak
7:40 pm: Vice President Joe Biden
7:50 pm: Senator Catherine Cortez Masto
7:55 pm: Senator Kamala Harris
8:05 pm: Senator Jacky Rosen
8:10 pm: Senator Elizabeth Warren
8:20 pm: Congresswoman Dina Titus
8:25 pm: Senator Amy Klobuchar
8:35 pm: Congressman Steven Horsford
8:40 pm: Senator Bernie Sanders
8:50 pm: Senator Cory Booker
9:05 pm: Mayor Pete Buttigieg
9:10 pm: Speaker Jason Fierson
9:15 pm: Secretary Julián Castro
9:25 pm: Tom Steyer
9:35 pm: Congressman John Delaney
9:45 pm: Andrew Yang
9:55 pm: Admiral Joe Sestak
10:05 pm: Senator Michael Bennet
10:15 pm: Governor Deval Patrick

Ed. note: Speaking order of the presidentials was based on a Nov.  4 poll by The Nevada Independent.  To mix it up a bit, based on the results, the top six candidates and bottom seven candidates were grouped.  The first candidate from the top six (Biden) was followed by the first candidate from the bottom seven (Harris).  Next came the second from the top six and the second from the bottom seven, and so forth.  Gov. Patrick, who only entered the race on Nov. 15 was added at the end.

Nevada State Democratic Party
November 19, 2019

Last weekend, fourteen presidential candidates gathered at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas to make their case directly to Nevada Democrats. The room was filled with more than 1600 energized Democrats from across the state who will be casting their preference for our party’s nominee in less than 100 days. 

See some of the highlights below: 

Wall Street Journal: Democrats Start Early to Get Jump on Nevada Caucuses

Nevada poses an important early hurdle for the 2020 Democrats. It is seen as the first racially diverse early nominating contest, with a combined Latino, African-American and Asian-American and Pacific Islander population that accounts for about half of the state’s residents. The caucus model, in which participants hold precinct-level meetings rather than casting traditional ballots, means candidates and their staff are seeking out voters at big events—and at book clubs, church gatherings or vegan trivia phone banks.

The New York Times: California and Nevada Ask: Iowa Who?

Nevada will be the third state to vote in 2020, with its caucus coming just 11 days after the New Hampshire primary. And voters in California, which sends 495 delegates to the national convention, will start casting early ballots in the Democratic primary soon after the Iowa caucuses begin.

As more than a dozen candidates made their way through the states this weekend for campaign rallies and marathon candidate forums, there were near constant reminders about why each could make more sense to lead the charge to pick the party’s nominee for president.

There are more Latinos in Los Angeles County than the total population of the state of Iowa, as a moderator pointed out at the start of a forum on Latino issues in Los Angeles Sunday morning. Nevada, already a majority-minority state, is also home to one of the fastest growing Asian-American communities in the country.

CNN: 2020 Democrats lay out competing visions at key Nevada event

The point of the First in the West event was to give the 14 Democratic presidential hopefuls in attendance the chance to show off their ability to organize in the key caucus state and woo the small number of uncommitted Nevadans in the room.

But, more significantly, the event was a moment for each candidate, many of whom have already been preparing for Wednesday night's debate, to road-test lines they may end up using against their Democratic opponents during this week's debate.

U.S. News & World Report: Democrats Unify Against Trump at Nevada’s First in the West Forum

They came, they cheered, they railed against President Donald Trump. And they pronounced "Nevada" correctly (Nev-AD-a, not Nev-AH-da), one of the truest signs the Democratic presidential field is recognizing the importance of the state's early caucuses in deciding who can win the nomination and represent an increasingly diverse Democratic Party.

Associated Press: Reid: Iowa, NH not diverse enough to provide Dems’ guidance

In the clearest demonstration of Reid’s influence, the candidates at one point joined him on stage and lined up to shake his hand one-by-one as he received a tribute from the party.

As the candidates took the stage at a glitzy Las Vegas Strip casino, they pitched their health care plans and pledged to beat Donald Trump in 2020 as their supporters cheered and waved signs.

Reuters: Democratic presidential candidates court labor support in Nevada

Sunday night, Nevada Democratic activists, energized from recent wins in which the party won all statewide offices except one and majorities in both houses of the legislature, whooped and climbed on chairs as the 14 candidates came on stage together before making speeches.

Bloomberg: Deval Patrick Defends Decision to Enter 2020 Race at Last Minute

Nevada Democrats argued this weekend that their state, which caucuses on Feb. 22, will be more critical to selecting the nominee.

“I don’t think it matters what happens in New Hampshire or Iowa because those states are not representative of our country anymore,” said Reid, who jockeyed for years to get his state to its No. 3 slot on the Democratic nominating calendar.

The Nevada Independent: Presidential hopefuls tout Nevada bona fides, carve out areas of distinction at pre-caucus political gathering

Fourteen Democratic presidential hopefuls flocked to Las Vegas on Sunday with the goal of wooing Nevadans. Candidates had a maximum of 10 minutes to sell themselves — a change from their usual campaign rallies and town halls that can stretch anywhere from 20 minutes to over an hour — to a packed ballroom of more than 1,600 potential caucus-goers.

Las Vegas Sun: Nevada’s importance on display at Democratic presidential event in Las Vegas

The event, put on by the state Democratic Party, was a chance for candidates to make rapid-fire pitches to voters in the months before the February caucuses. Nevada is the third state to weigh in on presidential preferences, after Iowa and New Hampshire and before South Carolina.

The event also served as a celebration of the gains the state Democratic Party made in the 2018 midterm elections, where Jacky Rosen defeated Republican Dean Heller in the U.S. Senate, Steve Sisolak won the governor's office and a Democratic majority of state lawmakers were elected.

KUNR: Democratic Presidential Hopefuls Bring High Energy, Appeal To Unity To Nevada Voters

Nevada is the first Western state to take part in the primary or caucus process. The Democratic Party of Nevada hosted an event called "The First in the West." It had pretty much everyone in Nevada politics there—at least from the Democratic side. You had 14 presidential candidates, both Nevada senators were here, Governor Steve Sisolak, Attorney General Aaron Ford. It was a real who’s who of Nevada Democrats.

The one thing I’ll say about the event overall is the energy. There was this sort of lightheartedness around the whole thing. There wasn’t the usual kind of infighting that we’ve gotten used to seeing in the debates. This event felt more like it was all about uniting people, and kind of felt more like the Democratic Convention.

Nevada Current: Presidential candidates praise Reid, make pitch to potential caucus goers

Winning Iowa doesn’t matter as much as people think according to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Neither does winning New Hampshire. Nevada on the other hand is a better indicator to test the longevity of candidates.

“Nevada is a diverse state, first in the West and representative of the rest of the country,” he said in a press briefing ahead of the Nevada Democratic Party’s First in the West dinner Sunday. “I think the press makes a bigger deal out of Iowa or New Hampshire at the detriment of our election.”

Las Vegas Review-Journal: National Democrats make their pitches at Nevada party dinner

The crowd began to chant “Harry” as Reid, dressed up from head to toe and seated in his wheelchair, spoke. He preached unity among the impassioned followers of the various candidates.

“Here tonight, we have 14 Democratic candidates for the nomination,” Reid said. “And one thing we should clearly understand: When we get that nominee, we’re all going to join together and help them.”

Reno Gazette-Journal: 2020 Democrats in Las Vegas unify in attacking Trump as 'Divider-In-Chief'

In a hall full of energized Democrats, President Donald Trump had many nicknames. "Con artist." "Divider-In-Chief." "The most dangerous president in the history of this country." Those were a few of the names 2020 hopefuls campaigning directly to the Nevada State Democratic Party on the Strip Sunday gave the man in the Oval Office.

One of the first four early-voting states in the Democratic nominating process, Nevada is a battleground where candidates look to prove the legitimacy of their campaign. 

Nevada State Democratic Party
For Immediate Release:
November 4, 2019
Contact: Molly Forgey

NV Dems Announce Final List of Special Guests to Attend First in the West, Schedule of Events

With two weeks to go until the First in the West event, NV Dems are announcing the final list of attendees as well as the schedule of events beginning Saturday, November 16th through the evening of Sunday, November 17th. 

Ahead of the event Sunday, Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be available for a pen and pad with reporters followed by an NV Dems’ staff-led briefing on the 2020 caucus. 

The reception will feature Democratic presidential candidates who will be offered the unique opportunity to make their case to Nevada Democrats directly. The program will also feature appearances from members of our Democratic delegation and a tribute to Senator Harry Reid. 

The speaking order will be determined by a poll commissioned by The Nevada Independent surveying Nevada Democrats’ preference for Democratic nominee released ahead of the event. For more information on tickets, click here. Media wishing to attend must RSVP by completing this form

Special guests:

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet
Vice President Joe Biden
U.S. Senator Cory Booker
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Secretary Julián Castro 
Congressman John Delaney
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
Congressman Joe Sestak
Tom Steyer
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
Andrew Yang

Schedule of events:

Saturday, November 16th

NV Dems to hold Caucus 101 training - Location and Time TBD

Sunday, November 17th

4:00 p.m. - Pen & Pad with Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

4:30 p.m. - Nevada Caucus Briefing with Democratic Strategist Rebecca Lambe and NV Dems Executive Director Alana Mounce

7:00 p.m. - First in the West reception begins


Nevada State Democratic Party
For Immediate Release:
October 14, 2019
Contact: Molly Forgey

NV Dems Announce Special Guests, Open Ticket Sales for First in the West

NV Dems is hosting our First in the West event spotlighting Democratic presidential candidates ahead of our February 22 caucuses. This event will offer Nevada Democrats a chance to hear from the candidates and show their excitement for the 2020 caucus.

Special guests so far confirmed include:

Vice President Joe Biden
U.S. Senator Cory Booker
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Secretary Julián Castro
Congressman John Delaney
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris
Tom Steyer
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
Andrew Yang

Democratic candidates will also be joined by members of the Nevada delegation. The final list of attendees will be released on November 4th.

The event will take place on November 17, 2019, at the Bellagio Hotel and Casino and doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are now available and can be purchased here. Media wishing to attend must RSVP here.

“Nevada will be the road to the White House in 2020. Our state is a microcosm of the country from our strong Latino, Asian Pacific Islander and African American communities, to our fierce organized labor and proud rural communities with a long history of mining and ranching,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “As the nation keeps its focus on Nevada in anticipation of our First in the West Caucus, I invite every candidate running for the Democratic nomination to continue coming to Nevada, hear the stories of Nevadans and make it clear how they'll fight for the Silver State when they make it to the White House.”

“No other early nominating state possesses Nevada’s unique diversity and is as reflective of our country -- that's why I am grateful to join in hosting such an important conversation with our Democratic candidates here at home,” said Governor Steve Sisolak. “Here in Nevada, we've made tremendous progress for working families in just the last few months. Now is the time to come together to preserve that progress and ensure we elect the Democratic candidate to defeat Donald Trump in 2020.”

“As the Trump Administration works to undo all of our progress, Nevada continues to buck the national trend,” said Nevada State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II. “When we flipped the Governor’s mansion, a U.S. Senate seat and seats up and down the ballot in 2018, Nevadans made clear we don’t want another four years of Donald Trump. I couldn’t be more excited to have all of our amazing candidates in Nevada to lay out their plan for the country. This is their opportunity to tell Nevadans how they will grow our economy, make health care more affordable, and reform our immigration system once and for all.”

Nevada is the first Western state and the third in the nation to make its voice heard in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.