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Sunday, January 13, 2008

Political Battle in Nevada

On Saturday, January 19, 2008, Nevada will be the site of the Democratic and Republican caucuses and already the court battles are heating up.

In what the NYT is calling a "proxy" battle between the Obama and Clinton campaigns, a lawsuit was filed Friday, January 11, 2008, by the Nevada State Education Association and six local area residents of the Las Vegas area, in the Federal District Court.

Here is a link to the suit. (PDF)

At the heart of the argument of the Nevada State Education Association is the Nevada Democratic Party's decision to create nine at-large precincts within Las Vegas resorts on caucus day.

The reason these nine precincts have been established was because the hotel workers would not be able to leave their jobs to be able to participate in the caucuses in their home precincts.

Their claim is that it will violate the state election law that would allow them to elect more delegates than voters at other precincts and the argument asserts that voters at the other 1,754 precincts in Nevada would have less influence.

Although the Nevada State Education Association has not officially endorsed for the caucuses, the some of the groups top officials are supporting Hillary Clinton and this lawsuit from the 20,000 member group comes just days after a 60,000 member group, the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in Nevada had endorsed Barack Obama.

The Secretary-Treasurer for the Culinary Local 226, Dr. Taylor, called this lawsuit "despicable" and "disgusting" and stated "I never thought we’d have people in the Democratic Party try to disenfranchise women, people of color and large numbers of working people in this state. I am sure every single elected official in Nevada will renounce it, and so will the Clinton campaign."

Statements from the Clinton campaign by Phil Singer "We hope the courts and the state party resolve this matter. We will respect their decision and focus our efforts on running a strong campaign.”

Obama campaign spokesman said "We believe as a party, and a country, we should be looking for ways to include working men and women in the electoral process, not disenfranchise them.”

The Nevada Democratic party dismissed the suit by arguing that as of last spring, every presidential campaign was involved in setting up the casino caucus sites while party officials and the DNC ironed out the details.

In a party statement they make the assertion that this is a "fair, legal and proper way to choose delegates under established law and legal precedent that has been reviewed by attorneys....The time for comment or complaint has passed".

“This has been a fully transparent process,” party spokeswoman Kirsten Searer said. “These rules have been approved by the Democratic National Committee and the campaigns have been fully informed throughout this process, which started in May.”

Dr Taylor also feels the timing of this lawsuit, right after the Culinary Local 226 endorsed Obama is "strange".

[Update] Clinton's statement:

“I know about the lawsuit that has been filed and I hope that it can be resolved by the courts and by the state party because obviously we want as many people as possible to be able to participate that is the whole idea.”

Previous statement that puts Hillary in a bit of a bind:

"You have a limited period of time on one day to have your voices heard," Clinton, D-N.Y., said. "That is troubling to me. You know in a situation of a caucus, people who work during that time -- they're disenfranchised. People who can't be in the state or who are in the military, like the son of the woman who was here who is serving in the Air Force, they cannot be present."

Looks like she will either have to change that position or come down on the side of the workers here which would be against the party that initiated the lawsuit.... unless her supporters and Obama supporters are going to let her hide from those statements.

More from Wapo on this hot potato.