Sen. Harry Reid Encourages Nevada Workers Union to Organize Voters for Caucuses
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada wants the state’s most powerful union to assure tens of thousands of casino workers take part fo the upcoming Democratic caucuses on Saturday. The caucus system is a method of voting which requires a high level of commitment from voters. To get that level of commitment, political organizations need to be willing to organize blocs of voters. In modern politics, it’s called the “ground game”.
In an interview given this Thursday, longtime Democratic senator Harry Reid said he had asked the president of the Culinary Workers Union’s parent organization, UNITED Here, to help with organization. United Here has 57,000 members in Nevada, as well as the resources and know-how to organize workers. The union has yet to endorse a presidential candidate this year, but wields tremendous power in the state.
Reid Talks with D. Taylor
Reid said of Donald “D.” Taylor of UNITED Here, “He’s been extremely cooperative. Probably 100 organizers will be at the caucus sites and in hotels to make sure people know what they’re doing.”
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders each have courted UNITED Here, but neither has received their endorsement. Hillary Clinton in particular has voiced concern that the state’s caucuses might disenfranchise working class voters, who might not be able to get time off from work on Saturday to vote in their local causus.
How Caucuses Work
Caucuses do not follow the standard approach to voting. In a standard primary, a person goes to the polling booth, shows identification, and votes through a computer voting system. If lines are not bad, the entire process might take 15 minutes.
In a caucus, voters gather at a local meeting area, whether it is a convention center, town hall, school auditorium, or gymnasium. Each group gets into a voting bloc (Clinton, Sanders) and a vote is taken. Those which do not qualify for a minimum voting requirement must vote for a different candidate. This process continues until someone has 50%.
Such a system requires a higher level of commitment, because each person must declare publicly for a candidate. Also, they are sometimes required to convince other voters to choose their candidate. That is why people hear of Ted Cruz’s supporters telling Ben Carson supporters lies about their candidate’s intentions in the Iowa Caucuses, because one group was trying to recruit the other.
Hillary Clinton Vs. Bernie Sanders
The process is likely to be much less complicated among the Democrats on Saturday. With a 2-person race, most of the state’s thousand-plus caucuses are likely to achieve a 50% threshold without the usual recruiting process. But the organization which gets out the most voters is going to win statewide.
Clinton Talks to Caesars Palace Workers
Without an official endorsement from their union, boith candidates have been campaigning with the food staff, card dealers, and cocktail waitresses who make up the Culinary Workers Union. On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton spoke to the workers at Caesars Palace, where her campaign staff are staying.
Talking to the cooks, housekeepers, and busboys, Hillary Clinton told the workers, “We’re staying here, and I thought I’d come to see who’s working. So it’s just towels and linens every day? I flew in from Chicago so before I went to my room, I said, ‘Well, who is still working?’ The answer? A lot of people.”
Casinos Help the Politicial Process
Harry Reid said United Here and the Las Vegas casinos have been helpful, offering paid leave to vote in the caucuses. In fact, Caesars Palace, the Rio All-Suite Hotel, and Harrah’s are three of the six polling stations in Las Vegas on Saturday. That should make it a lot easier for the Culinary Workers Union members to get off work and caucus in the correct location.
Nevada Could Affect the Outcome of Primaries
Nevada is a key primary for both Democrats and Republicans. With the outcome still in doubt for both major parties, it is thought the upcoming statewide votes in Nevada and South Carolina are going to have a significant impact on momentum going forward.
While hot streaks don’t exist in gambling and momentum might or might not exist in sports, it certainly does in politics. Political momentum includes campaign donations, enthusiasm from supporters, and media coverage. Thus, the Saturday vote could be vital to who wins each party’s nomination.
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