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Image: Nevada Democrats Hold Election Night Event In Las Vegas
Sen. Catherine Cortez Mastoon Nov. 8, 2022 in Las Vegas.Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

Newly re-elected Sen. Cortez Masto pushes Nevada as a lead Democratic primary state

As Democrats prepare their primary schedule for 2024, states are jockeying to move up on the calendar.


Fresh from helping secure the U.S. Senate for Democrats, Nevada is even more emboldened in its push to leap to the front of the presidential primary calendar.

“You can come into this state when you’re running for president and [if] your message resonates and you win Nevada, then that messaging is going to carry you through the rest of the country, newly re-elected Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto said in an interview with NBC News. “Nevada is a microcosm of the rest of the country.”

While Cortez Masto made the comments this week, the political campaign for Nevada has ensued for years. Before his death in late 2021, former Sen. Harry Reid had advocated for dropping Iowa and New Hampshire from the early state lineup. And since the spring it has acted perhaps the most aggressive in its attempts to supplant New Hampshire to become first in the nation.

But the state’s self-advocacy was met with some criticism from Iowa, which is on the chopping block after it was criticized for after its caucus process took days to deliver a presidential primary winner in 2020.

“The knock on Iowa was that we were too slow in reporting our results in 2020,” said Jeff Link, a longtime Iowa strategist. “It’s ironic that the state that wants to go first gave us the Senate results on a Saturday night — five days after the election.”

It’s true that for the Nov. 8 election, the nation did have to wait as Nevada’s Clark County — the state’s largest county — counted enough mail-in ballots before prognosticators could call the election in Cortez Masto’s favor on Nov. 12.

Those advocating for Nevada, however, say it’s apples to oranges trying to compare the Nov. 8 general election to a primary contest.

“Nevada primary races in 2020 and in 2022 have been called the night of the election or the next morning, so this is a false and disingenuous argument,” said Molly Forgey, a former Reid staffer, who is working on the Nevada effort to become first in the nation. “The DNC has consistently supported voter access as key criteria for this decision.” She added that Nevada Democrats expanded voting access laws that include universal vote by mail, two weeks of early voting, and same-day voter registration.

The back and forth comes as officials with the Democratic National Committee are expected to make a decision on the calendar order this week.