- Associated Press - Saturday, February 20, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - College students, retirees and casino workers gathered Saturday across Nevada to make their preferences known in the first-in-the-West Democratic presidential caucuses.

Big crowds arrived at many caucus sites, delaying proceedings until everyone could get in.

Here’s what some had to say about their choices:


Mary Moore arrived at a Rancho High School caucus site in Las Vegas along with a neighbor who she’d educated about the process.

The 68-year-old retiree wore a Hillary Clinton T-shirt and said she’d followed Clinton’s career for years.

“I’ve seen Hillary do things for the Mexicans, I’ve seen her do things for the blacks, the whites, all of them,” said Moore, who is black. “It wasn’t about just one color - we’re all God’s children.”

Moore previously worked in customer service at Delta Airlines and spent her days talking on the phone. She planned to speak up at the caucus.

“I’m going to be here to put her in office,” she said. “They’re going to hear my mouth. They’re definitely going to hear me.”


Michael Rubinstein, 25, of Henderson, was first in line at a caucus site at the New York-New York hotel-casino in Las Vegas.

Wearing a Sonic Youth T-shirt and black tennis shoes, he showed up at 10 a.m. for his first caucus and said that as soon as it’s over, he’s due back in the kitchen at the Mandarin Oriental hotel across the street. His shift as a cook ends at midnight.

Rubenstein said he decided to caucus for Bernie Sanders, whose message about access to tuition and health care resonated with him. Rubinstein is studying culinary arts a community college.

“A cook’s wage is not very substantial, so we fight for every dollar,” Rubenstein said, “and going to school and working at the same time, to be able to have my tuition come down even a little bit would be incredible. Bernie’s message just is really personal.”


Marvin Teske, 53, a security guard at a Reno casino, waited to caucus on the University of Nevada campus just north of downtown Reno.

Teske said he backed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 caucuses then ended up voting twice for Obama in the general election.

He said he supports Clinton again, and worries that Sanders would have trouble winning in the fall.

“As far as being too far left, I agree with a lot of the stuff he has to say. But the problem I have is that all the stuff he is promising is never going to happen,” Teske said. “I’ve always liked Hillary.”


To explain why she was voting for Bernie Sanders during Saturday’s Democratic caucus, Andrea Reyes, a 29-year-old hair stylist held up her cell phone.

Displayed was a graphic from the Sanders campaign listing Clinton’s top donors.

“She’s being funded by all the top dogs, we’re being funded by the people,” Reyes said at a Las Vegas Strip caucus site at Caesars Palace.

“I don’t want a politician who’s going to stand up for corporations.”


As he waited to caucus in Las Vegas, Rodolfo Sanabia, 33, said he was 75 percent sure he was going to choose Hillary Clinton.

The first-time caucus-goer was wearing his bellman uniform and name tag, and his pockets bulged with orange luggage tags from work at the New York-New York hotel-casino.

The Henderson man said he was born in Mexico City and became a citizen 14 years ago, but he’s worried about some of his family members who aren’t citizens.

He said he doesn’t believe Bernie Sanders has enough experience to tackle immigration, but has hope that Clinton can get something done in office, such as a pathway to citizenship.

“I’m scared for my family. They are hardworking people, good people,” he said. “I’m here for them.”


Nicole Margetts, 45, of Las Vegas is a cocktail waitress on the New York-New York casino floor.

She caucused for Clinton in 2008 but is less sure of her now, she said, because of the controversies since, including Clinton’s State Department emails and the 2012 Benghazi attack.

Wearing her black and lace uniform dress with a pink hoodie on top, she took a seat in the middle but said she’s still likely to go with Clinton.

The mother of two boys and lifelong Democrat said Clinton has been demonized by those scandals, but she still believes Clinton wants to put children and family first.

“It’s not that I don’t like Bernie and his ideas. I just don’t think they’re feasible. It can’t be accomplished,” she said.


Bernie Sanders might be 52 years older than University of Nevada, Reno student Chris Sexton, but the 22-year-old music performance major can see himself in the Vermont senator.

“I saw a photograph of him the other day protesting and getting arrested in college when he looked like he was our age,” Sexton said. “So it’s nice to have someone we can relate to.”

Sexton said he also liked Sanders’ support for ‘free education and raising workers’ wages.”


JoAnne Peden has been voting for Democrats since casting her first ballot for John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Saturday’s decision to back Hillary Clinton at a caucus in Reno, Nevada, was simple for the documentary filmmaker. Clinton has connections to Democrats currently in power.

“I see no problem continuing President Obama’s policies. I think he’s been a remarkable president given the opposition he had to deal with,” Peden said.


Associated Press writers Michelle Rindels, Nicholas Riccardi and Sally Ho in Las Vegas and Scott Sonner in Reno contributed to this report.

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