American Dispatch: Will Republicans Continue to Caucus?

By: FOX News Radio’s Jessica Rosenthal in Las Vegas, Nevada

So here’s the thing about caucuses.  Some Republicans are REALLY not big fans.  When I was in Nevada, I went to a caucus on a Saturday morning at a large high school in Summerlin, a suburb of Las Vegas to get a first-hand look at how it all works.

As I settled to the side of a packed classroom, a woman who had done some caucus training took charge.  She was confident, but a bit confused on exactly how things were going to work.  The group selected her as chairperson.  Then she explained that they needed to select delegates who would go on to local assemblies and conventions.  She also told the crowd that delegates did NOT need to disclose if they were for Romney, Gingrich, Paul or Santorum.  Many found that frustrating.

“Well, how do we know if we select someone as a delegate, they will stick to the person we want?” a woman asked when she understood the delegates were unbound.  An older man just shook his head and said “We should have primaries from now on.”  A doctor who appeared to be in his mid-40’s spoke up, explaining to his fellow caucus goers that it might be a messy process, but that he would be glad to tell them who he was voting for before he became a delegate.

He liked Romney, told the crowd why, and then proceeded to give them his resume, explaining how long he’d been a doctor and where he practiced.  People started nodding their heads and smiling.  They began to trust him.  Other people who wanted to be delegates did the same, but it took a long time.  After an hour, they still hadn’t gotten to the part where they acted as candidate advocates.

They eventually did get to that.  The chairwoman explained why she liked Ron Paul.  Several people cited Mitt Romney’s work at the 2002 Winter Olympics.  Others were more part of the ‘Anyone But Obama’ crowd and blasted the new healthcare laws.  Mitt Romney did eventually win, but finding that out officially, took not hours, but days.

Many in the Republican Party were not happy.  Clark County was on hold waiting for results from a caucus that was held after sundown for religious Jews and 7th day Adventists.  Things got rowdy at that caucus which was held at a school named after Sheldon Adelson.  Many Ron Paul supporters were critical of THAT since Sheldon Adelson has been financing Newt Gingrich’s campaign.  There was pushing and shoving to get inside when some were told they had to state their religious affiliation in order to caucus there.

The next morning when results still weren’t official, a Newt Gingrich backer called the Nevada GOP a laughing-stock.  Writing that they knew about this caucus for four years and failed to use it as an opportunity to register more voters, raise money and get the candidates to Nevada more. Notably, voter turnout was way down compared to four years ago.  Weeks earlier, Iowa had caucus problems too.  They announced Mitt Romney won, then backtracked and said Rick Santorum won.  This was due to a counting problem.  Iowa’s GOP chairman has since resigned.

By the time I got to Colorado, their GOP officials were aware of all the problems in the preceding caucuses.  Even though the vote was tight between Romney and Santorum, they hustled, and got the results out before midnight.  Suffice it to say that after this year, the Republican Party probably will have a discussion about the caucus process.  But then again, they may decide to stick with it.  A primary rather than a caucus, with unbound delegates, draws fewer candidates and less media coverage.  Case in point; Missouri.

Listen HERE to some of Jessica Rosenthal’s reporting from the Nevada Caucus: