Undecided Nevada Dems Running Out of Time

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(Reno, NV)
Friday, January 18, 2008

When the Democratic Party moved Nevada up this early in the presidential primary calendar, it did so because officials felt the state more accurately reflected the party and the nation than Iowa and New Hampshire. And at a John Edwards rally last night, there was definitely some Nevada pride. Sparks resident Nan Mariscal says her state is just as important as the others.

Nan: “I feel this experience is good for the rest of the country to see that Nevada is involved, that we’re not some hicks in the desert, that we actually do get involved with government.”

And retired Reno resident Tom Skowronski calls Nevada a microcosm of the nation.

Tom: “I think the issues here are like a sounding board for the rest of the country, especially health care.”

In fact, just about every Democrat I spoke with named health care as one of their top priorities. For Gabriela Mendoza, it was health care and immigration. She works for a non-profit that helps the Hispanic community get medical help. But she says the issues she cares about affect all Americans, not just Latinos.

Gabriela: “If these three candidates, they come to Reno and say, this is what we have for the Latino or Hispanic community – this is not about us. It’s the community.”

Mendoza says she doesn’t want to hear about action; she wants to see it. She says she’ll most likely caucus for Clinton.

At a walk-in urgent care clinic at the south end of town, Gloria Stanley is busy. She’s answering phones, getting insurance information and dealing with paperwork. Though Stanley works at a health care clinic, she herself doesn’t have insurance. Iraq and health care are her top two issues. She’s seen Edwards and Bill Clinton, but hasn’t completely made up her mind.

Gloria: “It’s so easy for people to say what they know other people want to hear. And I think what I want to hear is something different, something a little different that says, maybe this is really gonna work this time.”

Stanley says she’s 75 percent for Obama, but might still go for Clinton.

Gloria: “One thing about Obama is it’s a fresh new start. Hillary, I support her as well, but it’s still kind of a continuation of Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton, that type of thing. And also there’s maybe some personality I’m looking at too.”

But several people said they’re not going to attend a caucus. Most gave the same reason as Reno resident Vicki Colodny, who was waiting for her son at the Fastercare Clinic.

Vicki: “Basically the time that it takes, and I have a busy schedule.”
Ben: “And if this were a primary instead of a caucus?”
Vicki: “Then I would go to the primary and be in and out.”

And then, there are the Republicans. Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Duncan Hunter are the only candidates even visiting Nevada; the other major candidates have conceded the state to Romney. At Silver State Arms, a modestly-sized gun shop in a strip mall near the airport, Denis Dagoff is one of a few people behind the counter.

Denis: “I’ve heard some of the Republicans on the radio or TV but it’s been pretty sparse compared to what the Democrats have been spending.”

Dagoff says he’s got no problem with the G-O-P candidates ignoring Nevada – because as his favorite president, Ronald Reagan, said:

Denis: “Government that governs least, governs best.”