Nevada Republicans decided on Saturday during a state GOP central committee meeting to hold their caucuses on February 4, a move that likely has the Romney campaign re-strategizing where to place their campaign efforts between now and early next year. According to an AP report:
Nevada Republicans have shifted their presidential caucuses to early February, a move that ends an increasingly bitter standoff among rival states and for the first time clarifies the path to the Republican presidential nomination.
There will be no voting before Christmas. That’s despite warnings from New Hampshire’s top election official that Nevada’s initial insistence to host its contest in mid-January could force the Granite State to schedule the nation’s first Republican primary election in roughly six weeks.
But facing boycott threats from campaigns, incentive offers from the Republican National Committee, and the private blessing of the Mitt Romney campaign, Nevada Republicans voted Saturday to set their caucuses for Feb. 4. It will be the West’s first stop in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and the fifth contest overall, after Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida.
Some Nevada GOP insiders said that the Romney campaign was working quietly working behind the scenes so the Nevada GOP could have it’s caucuses on January 14. Eric Fernstrom, Romney spokesman, told reporters last week in Las Vegas that Florida was the reason for the calendar changes in the caucus dates for the other states.
“Nevada should be first in the west. Nevada was always going to be the first four states. The fact that they were going to move their date is because Florida moved into January. So the states are making adjustments in their calendar.”
Same day voter registration during the Nevada GOP caucuses made waves at the Nevada Republican meeting as well. In fact, activist GOP’ers in Nevada believe that the Romney campaign was pushing for same day voter registration, which failed to get approval by the Nevada GOP on Saturday.
I asked Mr. Fernstrom where the Romney camp actually was on the issue, but he did not give a clear answer as to whether or not Mr. Romney supported same day voter registration during the Nevada GOP caucuses.
The AP report continues:
The calendar scramble had consumed Republican officials in early voting states and complicated candidates’ decisions about travel, the timing of television advertisements and the distribution of limited resources. But with New Hampshire now free to settle on its preferred date of Jan. 10, the final puzzle pieces appear to have fallen into place.
The Republican presidential contenders are free to shift their campaigns into high gear with the first stop on the road to the GOP nomination set for Iowa in just 10 weeks.
“Now you’ll see the campaigns ramp up very quickly,” said Michael Dennehy, a New Hampshire Republican operative who led Sen. John McCain’s political operation four years ago and was a central player in the Granite State’s boycott push in recent weeks.
The Romney campaign was seen as benefitting from an earlier caucus date, as many believed he has strong support in Nevada within the Mormon community who would come out to the polls for him.