Nevada Newsmakers

News - May 18, 2016 - by Ray Hagar

State Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, said Wednesday that he would consider running for Nevada's 2nd U.S. House District seat in 2018 if current U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei returned to Nevada.

Amodei said last year he would consider running for governor or attorney general in 2018, although he is committed to seeking re-election to Congress this year.

"I have looked at the concept of going elsewhere, a constitutional office or maybe even a congressional (office)," Settelmeyer said on the Nevada Newsmakers TV program in Reno.

Settelmeyer said he is leaving his options open and has not ruled out running for re-election or leaving politics altogether.
"For me, it is a question of waiting and see how things play out," Settelmeyer said. "As long as Mark Amodei wants to continue in that seat, I think he is doing an excellent job."

After the Newsmakers taping, Settelmeyer said his decision could also impact Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, R-Minden, who like Settelmeyer, represents Douglas County.

"He's looking at the concept," Settelmeyer said. "He said if I ran for Congress, he'd run for state senate."

Besides Amodei, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., has also said he would consider running on the Republican ticket for governor in 2018. Current Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison is also considered a GOP gubernatorial prospect in 2018. Former Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has also been mentioned as a Republican who might run for governor but has declined to say anything publicly.

POSSIBLE NEVADA PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY: Settelmeyer said the idea of moving Nevada's presidential caucus system to that of a presidential primary will probably be a key issue at the 2018 Legislature. However, it could be Democrats and not Republicans who push the idea.

Currently, Nevada is the only western state among the prestigious "first four" states to have either a presidential caucus or primary before March 1.

Settelmeyer sponsored a bill during the 2015 Legislature that would have changed Nevada's presidential caucus system to a presidential primary election. It was defeated during the final days of the session because of opposition by Democrats, aided by lobbying efforts by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

"The main resistance I got on that bill was from the other party," Settelmeyer recalled. "In that respect, I have heard there are three people on the other side who are going to bring forth that bill, supposedly, to change it from a caucus to a primary. So if one of them wants to do that, fantastic. As my predecessor, Lynn Hettrick said, 'Sometimes the trick is the make them believe it is their idea and then it will get done."

Nevada has suffered national criticism because of low turnout and poor organization of its presidential caucuses since 2008. However, the GOP caucus doubled its participation from 2012 to 2016. Concerns have been raised that Nevada's coveted "first-four" status could be taken away by either the Republican National Committee or Democratic National Committee for 2020, especially if the state changes from a caucus to primary.

Yet Settelmeyer said the Legislature could dictate the primary's date by law, ensuring Nevada maintains its early-state status.

"Parties are allowed to do anything they want," Settelmeyer said. "However, I have asked both of them to do me a favor and show me an example where the legislature of a state dictated that a primary be on a certain date. And show me where they have been penalized  for that state's vote. They can't show me one, because the legislature makes the decision and in all aspects, you would either punish the Democrats because the Republicans in charge or or visa versa."

Yet there still could be cause for concern. In 2008, Democrats in both Michigan and Florida held their conventions in January, in violation of DNC rules.

Both states were initially stripped of their delegates and barred from the convention. Later, the DNC softened the penalty, allowing the delegates to be seated, although each delegate was only awarded half a vote.

Then, on the eve of the convention, the DNC voted unanimously to restore full voting rights to the delegates in an effort to boost party unity.