Latino Organizers Say Republicans Took a Risk in Ignoring Nevada

Four years ago, East Las Vegas, Nev., was a hub for presidential candidates engaging in heavy retail politicking. This year, it was anything but.

In 2020, Democrats came to the state months before its first-in-the-West presidential caucuses: Joe Biden, then a former vice president, took selfies at a well-known taco spot; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont held an “Unidos con Bernie” soccer tournament; and four candidates picketed alongside a powerful union dominated by Latinas.

But as the 2024 contests approached, and a number of Republicans lined up to challenge former President Donald J. Trump, things were visibly different. No campaign signs lined the area’s strip malls. There were no Republican presidential candidate ads on the air. With attention on the Super Bowl, taking place in the city this weekend, many Latino voters in Clark County were unaware of the contests of the political sort that were also taking place this week.

The reason: Nevada’s Republican Party split the nominating contests in two, rendering a state-run primary on Tuesday meaningless and conducting a separate caucus on Thursday where Mr. Trump is running essentially unopposed. As a result, the candidates largely ignored the state — and, many Latino organizers argued, Republicans on the whole missed out on an opportunity to reach a key voting group early.

Nearly a dozen community leaders said the complicated dual contest had also caused confusion among many Latinos, which could dissuade potential new voters from participating and make it less likely that they will come back in the fall.

“Voters, especially Latino and Hispanic voters, are paying real attention right now, more than they ever have — so that means they’re paying attention to the fact that they were ignored,” said Peter Guzman, the president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, Nevada, who identifies as a moderate conservative.

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