Nevada GOP Sets January Date for Caucuses

October 6, 2011 - 12:10 AM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada Republicans on Wednesday moved their caucuses to Jan. 14 in an attempt to preserve the state's relevancy in the national presidential nomination calendar.

State GOP chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said party officials decided to change their date to maintain Nevada's first-in-the-West presidential contest.

National Republicans initially decided Nevada would host its caucuses on Feb. 18, making it the third contest in the nation. But then Florida this month moved its primary date up to Jan. 31.

Tarkanian said the new date will maintain Nevada's importance in the nomination calendar.

"This is absolutely in the best interest of our state," she said in a statement. "We are in the process of creating a caucus that will energize Republicans throughout Nevada and the West, and allow us to play a major role in deciding who will carry the fight to unseat Barack Obama and his destructive policies."

It's a swift change for Nevada Republicans. Party officials said earlier this week that they would hold the caucuses on the Saturday after New Hampshire's historic contest. But New Hampshire declared this week that it would wait on Nevada to set a date, setting the stage for a game of chicken that Nevada was clearly not willing to play.

Iowa and New Hampshire traditionally hold the nation's first nominating contests. They are expected to move up their contests before Nevada in 2012.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has been competing heavily in Nevada, but Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and pizza magnate Herman Cain have won support from grassroots volunteers here.

Romney won the Nevada caucuses in 2008.

Nevada Democrats were also scheduled to hold their contest on Feb. 18. They are considering moving the date up. President Barack Obama is expected to win that contest.