Nevada caucuses could give Rick Santorum and Ron Paul an opening

Now that the Florida primary is history, the candidates are ready for the wild and wooly West. Photo: Baby Aubree Gilmore waits for Ron Paul Photo: AP

EASTON, Md., February 2, 2012 — Let the fun begin. Now that the Florida dust-up, aka the primary, is over, the candidates are out West, trying to wrestle up some campaign magic. This month some key states will be holding four caucuses (yes, caucuses again) and two primaries. The caucuses will be in Nevada, Colorado, Minnesota, and a seven-day caucus in Maine while Arizona, Missouri, and Michigan are holding primaries.

Confused yet? Maybe a look at the primary schedule through March at the end of this column will make things a bit clearer.

While it’s true that former Mitt Romney has come out of Florida stronger than ever, he’s not invincible. In fact, Rick Santorum is already telling Colorado that in their caucuses next Tuesday that “it is time to reset the race,” by going with him, noting that Newt Gingrich had his shot, but that his erratic remarks have made people nervous. With me, Santorum promises, “You will not have to worry everyday when you open up the paper: ‘Oh, what did he say today? What planet are we going to colonize next?’” referring to Gingrich.

As for flip-flopping Romney, Santorum insists that if he is elected president, people will know who he is and where he stands: “…you will know also that when you open up that paper, he [Santorum] hasn’t changed his mind. That he stands true north.”

Will Santorum’s strategy work? It just might. After all, Colorado is a hotbed of Tea Partiers and religious conservatives.

Santorum and Tea Party supporters Photo: AP

And caucuses are famous or, dare we say, notorious for going outside the box simply because so few people participate with only the hardcore activists usually showing up. Look at how Santorum pulled off an upset in the Iowa caucuses. He could be primed to do so again.

Then there’s Congressman Ron Paul. His supporters border on the feverish in their mania for the man and his policies, making caucuses ideal for sending their candidate across the finish line. Four years ago, Paul finished second to Mitt Romney in Nevada and his campaign operation has remained in the state ever since. In fact the West, where Paul’s libertarian views ignite passions, takes pride in calling itself the frontier where anything goes. Right now, even the gals of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the famous brothel just outside of Carson City, have switched from supporting Obama in 2008 to Ron Paul. No comment yet, from Dr. Paul.

He is busy campaigning across Nevada and shoring up his grassroots support, something a candidate needs in spades if he is to take that state. All along Paul has been savvy in husbanding his money and resources, seeking the best opportunities to pick up delegates, usually targeting states with caucuses. Even though the turnout historically is low, caucus states favor maverick candidates like Ron Paul. Or as Paul himself said, “We will spend our time in the caucus states because if you have an irate, tireless minority, you do very well in the caucus states.” 

That leaves Newt Gingrich. Don’t count him out, even if Santorum is doing so. Still smarting from the thumping he got from Romney in Florida and licking the scabs from his wounds in the ad wars, Newt is determined to go the whole nine yards and return to Tampa for the GOP convention and wreak havoc as only Newt can. Or as the former House Speaker himself put it, the campaign is far from over and it’s going to be “wild and wooly.” He is in it for the long haul as is Paul. So will his Super PAC buddy, billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who have reportedly given a combined $10 million to Winning Our Future, once again peddle their brand of political ads as they did so successfully in South Carolina against Romney?

Still waiting for Newt Photo: AP

However, since arriving in Nevada, according to the Washington Post, Newt’s campaign has been in a shambles: canceling a photo op with Nevada’s popular Republican governor, changing the time of rallies, and showing up hours late to others. He had hoped to inspire the Tea Party folks that he is the Chosen One, but since the Sharon Angle debacle when she ran against Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid two years ago, it has not been the same organization, badly fractured.

Add to this Gingrich’s depleted treasury; he hasn’t the money to mount a solid ground operation even though he supposedly has a comprehensive and enviable list of Republican voters.  So far, Gingrich is showing more bombast than results. The question then becomes, if he trails Romney, Santorum, and Paul coming out of Nevada, how can he remain in the race?

Right now Mitt Romney, who took Nevada in 2008, is poised to do so again. Nevada may be friendly to Paul, who resonates with the “don’t bother me with big government crowd,” but Nevada also has a significant Mormon population of 165,498, making that a logical voting bloc for Romney. Today Romney is ahead in the polls by 21 points. However, given its history and that it is a caucus state, Nevada is not a shoo-in for any candidate. There could be another upset as there was in Iowa.

But the fun doesn’t end Saturday for political junkies: Maine starts its seven-day caucus on Saturday, running until February 11. Colorado and Minnesota have caucuses on Tuesday, February 7, the same day as the Missouri primary. And for those of you hankering for more rough and tumble debates, as of now you will have to wait till Wednesday, February 22 in Mesa Arizona. 

Just don’t touch that dial!

Upcoming Caucuses and Primary Schedules:

February 4

Nevada (caucus)

February 4–11

Maine (caucus)

February 7

Colorado (caucus)

Minnesota (caucus)

Missouri (primary) – *See note below on Missouri

February 28

Arizona (primary)

Michigan (primary)

March 3

Washington (caucus)

March 6

Super Tuesday:

Alaska (caucus)

Georgia (primary)

Idaho (caucus)

Massachusetts (primary)

North Dakota (caucus)

Ohio (primary)

Oklahoma (primary)

Tennessee (primary)

Vermont (primary)

Virginia (primary)

March 6-10

Wyoming (caucus)

March 10

Kansas (caucus)

U.S. Virgin Islands (caucus)

March 13

Alabama (primary)

Hawaii (caucus)

Mississippi (primary)

March 17

Missouri (GOP caucus) – *See note below on Missouri

March 18

Puerto Rico (primary)

March 20

Illinois (primary)

March 24

Louisiana (primary)


*Missouri: Missouri will hold a primary on February 7th, 2012, which will not count for delegates toward the 2012 GOP convention. The Missouri Republican Party will hold a caucus on March 17th, 2012, which will determine the delegates sent to the 2012 GOP convention

 

Read more:

A new Ron in the Oval Office? How Ron Paul can force a game changer

Mitt Romney’s liberal campaigning tactics

Romney’s CNN interview: Focus on middle class doesn’t mean he disregards poor

Ron Paul’s surprising supporters (yes, Palin and Romney too)

Ron Paul and the Israel question             

 

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib in the Communities at the Washington Times. She can also be heard on the Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media. 

 


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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