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Live updates: AP says Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses, cementing front-runner status

Reno-Gazette-Journal logo Reno-Gazette-Journal 2/23/2020 Staff reports, Reno Gazette Journal

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Now that voters in Iowa and New Hampshire have cast their ballots, it's Nevada's turn to weigh in on the 2020 presidential race.

Democrats throughout the Silver State will gather Saturday to participate in the state's caucuses to allocate delegates for the 2020 Democratic nominee. The Reno Gazette Journal will provide live coverage of the process and results; stay with us for the latest news from across the state. 

NEVADA CAUCUS LIVE RESULTS: See real-time voting data for the Democratic presidential primary

Guide: Everything you need to know about Nevada’s upcoming presidential caucus

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LIVE CAUCUS UPDATES:

2:46 p.m.: Caucus Day at Wooster High School ended smoothly, with only a few hiccups.

Ben Harvey, 22, who was in precinct 2049, said he wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone else about the candidates.

Harvey, who was supporting U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, caucused once before during the 2016 elections at the University of Nevada, Reno. He said he was nervous about caucusing after hearing about what happened in Iowa.

Harvey said a representative for each candidate was allowed one minute to give their speeches. After that, participants were not allowed to debate amongst themselves.

Harvey said his precinct captain made the decision.

“It was kind of unfair,” Harvey said. “We asked if we were even allowed to talk and they said no. To my knowledge, we were supposed to talk to each other and convince one other to come over to our side.”

a group of people sitting in front of a crowd: Sixty caucus-goers participate in the Nevada Democratic Caucuses in the gymnasium at Wooster High School in Reno, Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. © Marcella Corona, RGJ Sixty caucus-goers participate in the Nevada Democratic Caucuses in the gymnasium at Wooster High School in Reno, Nevada on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

Meanwhile, caucus-goers from other precincts were given 15 minutes to discuss the candidates amongst themselves.

“This one, I thought, was going to be a nice debate, and unfortunately, I was very disappointed in that,” Harvey said.

Chan Griswold, captain for precinct 1033, described the caucus as “spectacular.” He said the process went smoothly because of the early vote.

“If not for the early voting, it would have been a disaster,” Griswold said. “We had the resources, the tools and the process worked.

“We could not handle the hundreds of people in this precinct if they were all here at once,” he said. “We were able to barely do this.

“That’s why I’m elated.”

Griswold said people had more time than they needed to speak.

“People were committed, transparent and had time to speak,” he said, adding the megaphone was a lifesaver.

2:23 p.m. update: Bernie sweeps The Strip: LAS VEGAS — Sen. Bernie Sanders won the most delegates from the caucus sites on the Las Vegas Strip, including its most valuable precinct at the Bellagio.

Only former Vice President Joe Biden won one precinct across the street at Paris.

Here's the breakdown: 

  • Bellagio: Sanders 32, Biden 19.
  • Paris:  Biden 14, Sanders’ 7. Buttigieg and Steyer took 6 each.
  • Park MGM: Sanders 18, Steyer 8 and Biden 7.
  • Harrah's: Sanders 12, Biden 12, Steyer 10.
  • Rio: Sanders 7, Steyer 4, Biden 2. 
  • Wynn: Sanders 6, Biden 3. 
  • Mandalay Bay: Sanders 19, B.

1:34 p.m. update: Mixed feeling about the process: Nevada caucus organizers are backing up their electronic data entries with hand-written tabulations of votes. The hand-written tabulations are posted on walls so all caucus attendees can view them.

“This is kind of going old school,” said Faye Berg, a first-time caucus goer said at Galena High School in Reno. “On the heels of what happened in Iowa and people interfering, I feel we are getting a very accurate count. You can’t interfere with pen and paper.”

“It’s total transparency,” said Melissa Kirtley, another first time caucus attendee. “Everyone can see the numbers.”

Not everyone is happy with the process though. 

Among a crowd of 22 people gathered in a room at Sparks High School, there’s ongoing confusion about how the multiple rounds, or alignments, work and how early voting is taken into account.

Early votes are counted but can’t be changed to alter viability since the early voters aren’t present to represent themselves.

“There’s a lot of not knowing,” said one woman.

“This system is very imperfect,” says another.

“I don’t understand this any better,” says one man.

“It’s a small world after all,” one woman starts singing to herself as the room goes round and round in questions.

1:20 p.m. update: A caucus-goer at Precinct 6307 in Sparks is reporting a discrepancy in the early voting math being reported at his location.

According to a photo tweeted by Brad Fitch, the early voting total is different from the actual tally of the results, showing 66 people total voted early but only 62 votes were counted for the candidates.

He said "additional people" are being called to the location.

1:01 p.m. update: With early voting calculated as well as today’s results, the only viable candidates at Mt. Rose Elementary in Precinct 1018 are Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  The total for Sanders is 120 and Warren received 56. The precinct chair is telling others in the room that they can realign now. Other vote totals were six for Biden, 11 for Amy Klobuchar, eight for Tom Steyer and one for Tulsi Gabbard.

"I feel good about it,"  said Ali Walsch, who registered at Mt. Rose Elementary just moments before the start of the caucus.

An undecided voter, Walsch voted for Elizabeth Warren.

12:55 p.m. update. Precinct 1018 at Mt. Rose Elementary School is going through its first alignment counting again.

12:51 p.m. update. First alignment voting begins in precinct 1018 at Mt. Rose Elementary School.  Room breaks down as: 34 for Bernie Sanders, 25 for Elizabeth Warren,11 for Pete Buttigieg, 5 for Tom Steyer, 3 for Amy Kobuchar, 1 for Joe Biden, 1 for Tulsi Gabbard, 1 uncommitted, and 0 for John Delaney, Deval Patrick and Andrew Yang.

12:39 p.m. update. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren were the only three candidates to emerge as viable in the first round of voting (first alingment) in precinct 8236 at Galena High School, one of the largest in south Reno.

Sanders landed just 14 votes out of 145 cast in the precinct, one more than Joe Biden and fewer than even long shot Tom Steyer, who netted 17.

At Precinct 111 at Carson Middle School, bad news for supporters of Joe Biden after the first alignment. Leading was Bernie Sanders, with twice the number of votes of Buttigieg and Warren, who split an equal number of votes. Now conversations are underway for second alignment voting.

12:35 p.m. update: At Carson Middle School, one woman - who previously had been sitting with caucusing Nevadans, stood in silence in the makeshift “Observers” section of the gym as caucusing got underway.

Asked why she’d left the group, Erin Epperson smiled and whispered, “Shhh, I’m a Republican.”

Epperson, 39, had come to the school with her Democrat boyfriend - the two work at the same small manufacturing company in Carson City and have been dating since before President Donald Trump took office. She says she and her boyfriend differ in many ways - he’s an atheist and she’s a practicing Christian - but have learned manage the vast political gap between them.

“He likes Bernie Sanders, because the idealistic side of him that I love wants fairness for all people,” says Epperson. “I’m glad he’s participating in this process. As for us, we have learned to manage, otherwise we would be fighting all the time and who wants to do that.”

She says she’s not a fan on Sander’s more socialist policies as that approach “doesn’t let people stand up for themselves.”

For Epperson, her support of Trump boils down to one word: economics. She calls herself “a capitalist, I have stocks,” and says she appreciates how things have been going financially. “And I like his brashness, I’ll admit it. But he can also seem like a blustering idiot.”

12:33 p.m. update: LAS VEGAS — The two viable candidates at the caucus site at the Bellagio — the largest in the state — are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.

12:21 p.m. update: Buttigieg in Las Vegas:

"The clouds are parting. The sun is emerging. I'll take that to be a good sign," South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg said as he strode past puddles and through the courtyard of Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas.

The rain that had fallen on Las Vegas through the morning was letting up and the candidate was making a last-minute stop at the caucus site on the south end of the city to press the flesh with voters.

Buttigieg is behind in the polls here, though, and unlikely to come neck-and-neck for delegates on Saturday with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders as he has in New Hampshire and Iowa.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Pete Buttigieg greets supporters at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas prior to the Nevada Democratic Caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. © Andrew Oxford, USA TODAY Pete Buttigieg greets supporters at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas prior to the Nevada Democratic Caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020.

12:20 p.m. update. Bellagio for Bernie: It appears the chosen candidate inside precinct Bellagio is Bernie Sanders.

A large group Sanders supports assembled on one side of the room and chanted, “Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!”

On the other side of the room, a smaller group chanted “Biden! Biden! Biden!”

12:19 p.m. update. Casino caucusing. Paul Anthony has been working at the Bellagio for 23 years years. He is a 53-year-old food server at Spago and one of hundreds of casino workers packed into the Grand Ballroom to vote in Nevada’s Democratic Caucus.

It’s process that could go in the trash, he said.

“I despise this process."

This election, he said, is too important to give voters three choices on the ballot. Nevada should have a traditional primary process that forces voters to make a single choice at the polls.

“My main objective is to have somebody beat Trump, and I frankly don’t care who it is,” Anthony said. “When you’re not a very opinionated person, this process is not really effective.”

Dozens of Bellagio shift workers and voters living within 2.5 miles of the Strip resort sat in chairs waiting for the caucus to come to order. At noon, Democratic officials called the caucus to order.

Many of the workers wore their uniforms to vote; they were promised a lunch break after voting.

National media reporters swarmed the room with video crews to talk to workers about what is driving them to the polls. Many of the workers preferred to stay away from the cameras and sat quietly or talked with their shift friends.

12:07 p.m. update: Scott Lambert, 52, of Reno, rolled up to the Hug High caucus site in Reno in a green, 1979 VW Microbus. Lambert, a precinct captain for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said he had considered a newer model van for camping in the Sierra Nevada but his son persuaded him to give the old Microbus a chance. He said he hasn’t regretted it.

“When I get behind the wheel, there is a sense of peace and joy that has seduced me into keeping it,” he said while grabbing an armload of campaign material.

Asked why he decided to volunteer for Sanders, Lambert said he didn’t have time to get into the details. Asked for the highlights, he said, “We are here on this planet not just to survive, we are here to thrive,” he said as he rushed into the caucus site.

a group of people standing around a table: Ali Walsh just registered to vote and was undecided as she entered the caucus at Mt. Rose Elementary School on Saturday, Feb. 22. © Siobhan McAndrew, RGJ Ali Walsh just registered to vote and was undecided as she entered the caucus at Mt. Rose Elementary School on Saturday, Feb. 22.

At noon at Mt. Rose Elementary School, Ali Walsh of Reno registered as a Democrat just minutes before the start of the caucus. Previously an independent, she said she liked the candidates. She headed in to the caucus site at noon as a still undecided voter. "I will see what happens. I don't know who I am voting for," she said. 

At Sparks High School, with five minutes until go time, site lead Carissa Snedeker is sprinting down the hallway to the “gun range,” one of the rooms at the caucus site, and possibly the farthest from her post in the gym.

“Brad! Brad! ”she yells. “There’s nothing like working with your husband.”

Brad took the wrong iPad for his precincts. There are 13 precincts at this site.

“Two minutes and counting,” she said.

At noon, Carissa places the iPad in her husband’s hands as caucusing is officially set to begin. She rushes back to the gym.

All things considered, today’s been a mellow day since everyone voted early, Snedeker said.

“That’s what I hoped for,” she said.

But now, it’s noon, and time to vote.

11:58 a.m. update: Janet Serial, 62, has been involved in politics since she was 18 years old. She said she’s caucused with her family, including all four of her now-adult daughters. 

But this year was the first time she served as a site leader at Wooster High School. The site housed 10 precincts, all within five widespread rooms. Two of the rooms included gymnasiums.  

Serial said the process has been running smoothly so far, at least in comparison to previous years. 

“In previous caucuses, it’s been a little chaotic,” she said as she sorted through a stack of paperwork. 

Several other volunteers kept approaching her with questions, and she even took a call from a caucus-goer who was having trouble finding the entrance to a site in Las Vegas. 

The individual called the Democratic hotline, and somehow, the call was transferred to Serial. 

“Those are the things I take with a stride,” she said as she walked around the hallways answering questions and handing out paperwork and iPads. 

Serial estimated there were about 15 to 20 volunteers and only 10 iPads. At one point, she spent several minutes searching for a spare iPad for a volunteer. 

However, the biggest issue has been the widespread rooms. Usually, a site will have one designated room or several rooms located nearby. Some participants had to walk up a flight of stairs to reach one room and up a ramp to reach another, Serial said. 

Still, she gave kudos to the facility site coordinator, Chad Nesler, and the assistant to the principal for their help in preparing for the caucus at the high school. 

Despite the chaos, Serial said she likes the caucus process “because it’s grassroots.” 

Still, she said she foresees Nevada moving to the primaries in the future.

“It’s a very time-consuming and laborious process,” she said. “Early voting has changed the dynamics and the role of caucusing. It may be a model that’s outlived its time.” 

The caucus was expected to start at noon. One observer walked by and asked a volunteer, “What am I observing?”

The volunteer responded: “Democracy at work.”

11:57 a.m. update. California watchers. A dozen Bernie Sanders supporters sit In the corner of the gym at Galena High School — but none of them are voting for him today. They are among many people who came to Nevada just to observe the caucus.

“I care a lot about the campaign,” said Thea Hudson of Davis, Calif., who carpooled to Reno this morning. “It’s absolutely already interesting.”

Alex Schantz of Rocklin, Calif., was searching for a way to get involved with the Sanders campaign when he stumbled across a link on Sanders’ website to help canvas in Nevada. Schantz, 32, rode a bus operated by the Sanders’ campaign from Sacramento to Reno on Friday and has been canvassing since.

“After watching from afar what happened in Iowa, I thought it would be interesting to see how this unfolds,” he said.

11:40 a.m. update. Rethinking the caucus. Bernie Sanders supporter Arlene Llewellyn, of Sparks, sat highlighting a psychology book in one of the precinct rooms designated at the Sparks High School caucus site.

On the opposite side of the room, the only other voter in the precinct so far, Steve Walls, sat with earbuds in his ears and eyes down at his smartphone.

“This is ridiculous. It’d be much easier if you made (caucusing) at many, many locations over one to two days,” she said.

“Amen,” said Walls.

Granted, she preferred sitting at a desk for two hours rather than fighting the crowds earlier this week, when there was a 2.5-mile line of parked cars outside the early caucus location.

“Amen,” said Walls.

“I think it was a massive turnout to dump Trump,” said Llewellyn.

The caucus better go smoothly today, Llewellyn said.

“Everybody’s watching. What happened in Iowa better not happen here.”

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11:25 a.m. update. Digital divide: At Hug High in Reno, one senior citizen who declined to give his name stormed out after learning the caucus period was longer than he could stay.

He said it was difficult to get information about the time and arrived during the registration period but couldn’t stay for actual caucus.He was frustrated that there wasn’t more information available offline.

“I feel like I’m not eligible to vote anymore because I don’t have a computer and I don’t have a cell phone,” he said while walking out of the gym.

11:24 a.m. update: Kyra Pulver, 23, was going to caucus for Bernie Sanders.  

“For me, it's all about healthcare,” she said. 

Pulver, who is a chemist and came to Reno to attend the University of Nevada, Reno said she has good healthcare but her mother doesn’t. 

“My mom has lupus and she's terminal,” Pulver said. “She is on Medicaid and even with her antibiotics they can dictate what she takes regardless of what the doctors say.”

11:20 a.m. update.  At 11 a.m. local time, an hour before official caucuses begin, a gaggle of supporters for a range of Democratic hopefuls greeted Carson City residents who trickled in to Eagle Valley Middle School on the east side of town.

Brandishing cookies and buttons, Tom Steyer campaign supporters hugged 92-year-old Hal Sayler. “I like that Steyer supports term limits,” said Sayler, sporting a Navy veteran hat.

“All those guys in Washington worry about is getting re-elected, while they’re there spending our money.”

Sayler, who served in the military everywhere from Hawaii to Alaska before turning to a career in education,  added that he was “tired of corporations running the show and making politicians millionaires.”

Asked why Steyer and not some of the other Democrats who have found more success with voters so far, such as Bernie Sanders, Sayler said someone like the Vermont senator was “a bit too far to the left.”

As Sayler walked inside the school caucus site, Justin Vest, a precinct captain for Bernie Sanders, dismissed the concern that if Sanders wins the Democratic nomination for president Republicans would derail his bid for the White House by seizing on the senator’s most liberal views.

“I think if you look at younger voters they’re going to look at his positions on climate change and the economy and the whole socialist label will fall flat,” he said.

Standing nearby, Jamie Hutchinson, a precinct captain for the campaign of Pete Buttigieg, felt sure that Democrats in the end would come together and support whoever becomes the nominee for president.

“Even just hanging out here this morning we have had some wonderful debates with Bernie supporters and we all agreed that the number one goal is to be Donald Trump in November,” said Hutchinson.

11:05 a.m.: Andrew Yang may have suspended his campaign but he’s still got supporters in Nevada. And he’s on the ballot.

“He was building a diverse coalition, bringing different people from the political spectrum and I think that’s what we need to beat Donald Trump,” said Marc Mistica, who was among the Yang backers at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Mistica hopes Yang can still win delegates out of Nevada and be part of the discussion at the Democratic National Convention.

10:53 a.m.: An hour before actual caucusing began, signs of strategic voting were already starting to emerge in Reno.

Yolla Harman, an account manager and first-time caucus-goer from Reno, said she hoped to support California billionaire Tom Steyer, but acknowledged he was unlikely to survive a first round of caucusing at her left-leaning polling place on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno. 

“I like Steyer’s history of supporting the underprivileged,” Harman said, “But I know he’s not going to have enough support. … So it’s a toss-up for me between him and (Pete) Buttigieg.”

Several students said they favored progressive Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and only a few thought they could be swayed from that position.

“I’m not 100 percent for or against any candidate,” said biology major Deborah Partey, a self-described Sanders supporter. “Except (Michael) Bloomberg. I think he’s just like Trump.”

Lines continued to pile up at Partey’s polling place as volunteers scrambled to find voters’ names on long, paper copies of Washoe County voting rolls.

But spirits remained high, with staffers sporadically shouting “we got a new Democrat” every time someone changed their registration to participate in the closely watched caucus.

10:52 a.m. update: Galena High School senior Ford Fox isn’t usually at school on Saturday. But Fox turned 18 less than two weeks ago and wanted to celebrate his birthday by registering to vote. 

“I thought it was finally time to have my part and have my say,” he said. “And, I might not live in Nevada for the next caucus.” 

Minutes after the doors opened to the school for the 2020 caucus, Fox was registered to vote. He will be throwing his hat in the ring for Bernie Sanders. 

“I just believe him more than the other candidates.”

10:50 a.m. update: Kevin Finkler, 20, of Reno, patrolled a section of bleachers in the Hug High gymnasium where the bleachers were plastered with signs touting the campaign of former Vice President Joe Biden.

Finkler, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno, said he joined the Biden campaign as a volunteer after Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke dropped out of the race.

Even though the caucus was yet to begin Finkler was honing his pitch on anyone who walked by.

His real work for the day, he said, will be after he sizes up potential Biden supporters after the first alignment.

“For me, it is finding out your values and making you realize they align with the Vice President,” he said.

While Nevada is holding the nation’s attention due to its “first in the West” status, Finkler said the outcome of the 2020 presidential race will be decided in the Midwestern states such as Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“It is all about getting those states back,” he said.

a group of people walking through a parking lot: Less than five minutes before pre-caucus registration begins, a crowd gathers outside the Jot Travis Building on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno for the Nevada Democratic Caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. There are plenty of Bernie Sanders supporters among the mostly college-aged crowd. © James DeHaven, RGJ Less than five minutes before pre-caucus registration begins, a crowd gathers outside the Jot Travis Building on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno for the Nevada Democratic Caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. There are plenty of Bernie Sanders supporters among the mostly college-aged crowd.

10:46 a.m. First timer for Bernie. Jacquelin Pinto, 18, stood in the voter registration line at the Sparks High School caucus site in her pink sneakers.

A Hug High School student, she said it’s her first time participating in a caucus, and she is caucusing for Bernie Sanders. The daughter of Honduran immigrants, she is a supporter of Bernie because of his zeal for immigration reform, she said.

“We are humans, we should be treated better,” she said.

But she’d be supportive of any of the Democratic candidates if push comes to shove. She said her parents aren’t sure who they want to win.

“They just want Donald Trump out,” Pinto said. “They just want to make sure we don’t have a racist president.”

10:43 a.m.: Caucus Day was off to a slow start Saturday at Wooster High School.

A handful of caucus-goers crowded around the school entrance as they waited for the doors to open at 10 a.m. Even when the doors opened, few flooded inside.

The crowd was a mix of first-time caucus-goers and a few veterans.

Terry Woods, 73, and Caryn Summers, 68, both of Reno, were caucusing for the first time.

Summers said she previously lived in Utah and California and hadn’t had a chance to caucus before.

When asked if she believed the process would go smoothly, she said, “I think it will because they’ve been forewarned and they’re ready.”

For Woods, finding the right precinct was a little confusing.

“This year, it’s at the school, another at the mall and another at another school,” she said. “I don’t know what my precinct was. I called the DNC (Democratic National Committee) and they finally told me to come here.

“I just hope there’s no confusion about where to go.”

Both women are supporters of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. Still, Woods said she was debating on who to caucus for between the two senators.

Meanwhile, Niko Anderson, 30, and Jamal Berghouti, 27, both supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, have caucused before.

“I like the caucus,” Berghouti said on Saturday. “I intentionally did not vote early because I wanted to caucus."

“I like the forum it provides,” he said. “As we got here, people wanted to talk to us.”

Berghouti said the problem with the voting system is the lack of communication.

“There isn’t a lot of opportunity to come together and talk,” he said, adding he researched the history of the caucus in Nevada. “I know Harry Reid fought hard to have the caucus in the West.”

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a man standing next to a woman: Caryn Summers, 68, (left) and Terry Woods, 73, both of Reno, are first-time caucus-goers. They arrived early at Wooster High School in Reno for the 2020 Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. They both are considering Amy Klobichar and Elizabeth Warren. © Marcella Corona, RGJ Caryn Summers, 68, (left) and Terry Woods, 73, both of Reno, are first-time caucus-goers. They arrived early at Wooster High School in Reno for the 2020 Nevada Caucuses on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. They both are considering Amy Klobichar and Elizabeth Warren.

Anderson said she believes Nevada’s population closely mirrors the national population. She said there’s a large liberal population in Clark and Washoe counties. Meanwhile, rural areas are more widespread conservative.

Berghouti said Nevada also has a larger Latino population than most other states.

“It’s a good predictor of the Latino vote,” he said.

Both described the caucusing in Iowa as “archaic” and in need of some change. Still, Berghouti said the caucus is “the most engaging part of the process.”

The pair also watched the recent political debate between the Democratic presidential contenders.

“They were very cutthroat,” Anderson said. “Everyone was quite mean to each other. It’s alarming that they don’t get along, and it could have been done a better way.”

10:32 a.m. All alone for Bernie: Bernie Sanders supporter Shawna Ramsey was frustrated at Jessie Beck Elementary School.

She showed up to caucus for Bernie Sanders and to be a volunteer, observing that no voter was turned away. She was told she couldn't do both. She called the Bernie Sanders participation hotline and told caucus volunteers she could do both. 

But that's not the only reason she was frustrated. From what she could tell, she was the only Bernie supporter at Jesse Beck.

"I was told there would be 40 volunteers here with Bernie buttons and signs," she said. "I caucused for Hillary Clinton and Obama and things have changed a lot. I'm the only one."   

Outside of Jesse Beck were BIden and Warren volunteers with tables and signs. 

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10:18 update: Bundled up and shivering as she waited for the caucus site doors to open at 10 a.m. at Carson City’s Pioneer High School was Alyssa Jensick, 45, a middle school teacher who was acting Saturday as precinct lead for the campaign of Pete Buttigieg. 

Jensick, of Carson City, had already cast her caucus vote days before but agreed to help when the campaign called to say it needed her to liaise with local precinct captains. “On election night in 2016, I cried” when President Donald Trump was elected,” Jensick said, getting emotional. “ I was raised believing that we are all in this together, on a community level, state level, national level and world level. But I don’t feel that many in Washington today understand what it means to truly be a citizen. It seems to just be all about, what can you do for me?”

She said that Buttigieg appealed to her because he “represents a great middle ground, he’s young, and he has the right human experience.” She adds that she supports many of the ideas espoused by Warren and Sanders, but, in choosing her words carefully, adds that she fears their campaigns might be weaponized by the current administration.  “I worry they’ll make everything about the word socialism,” she says. 

Although she is a lifelong democrat, she admits that she has not yet put a bumper sticker on her car that still sits in her kitchen reading, “Proud Democrat.” She chalked that up to the party allowing former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg to jump into the race late on the back of millions of dollars of campaign advertising. “I don’t want the White House to be bought,” she said.

The Tom Tom Club: Are you guys the Toms?” asked a reporter with the RGJ to three men, two of whom sported Tom Steyer shirts at Sparks High School.

“Yes!”

“I’m actually Tom,” said Tom Payne, of Sparks, who wore a plain blue shirt.

“I’m actually Tommy,” said Tom McDonald, of the Bay Area, wearing a shirt with Tom written in a rainbow of colors.

“Well, I’m Tom, but I’m actually for Joe,” said Payne.

“Well, Tom, since you are Tom I feel the need to give you this...” said McDonald, giving him a matching T-shirt.

Payne explains he was a longtime Republican until former President Barack Obama ran for office. He switched because of health care, gun control and the fact that Obama seemed like a “nice guy.”

“If your guy doesn’t win, you should consider our guy,” said McDonald. “A lot of the things you care about resonate with our guy.”

They both smile and Payne thanks him for the shirt, which he admits he won’t wear today, but he appreciates the gesture and having the conversation across candidate lines.

“It’s about having real conversations,” said McDonald.

“It’s about saying how you really feel,” said Payne.

a man and a woman holding a sign: A guy named Tom who's actually for Joe was given a Tom shirt by a guy named Tommy. Got it? Joe Biden supporter Tom Payne of Sparks and Tom Steyer supporter Tommy McDonald of the Bay Area were volunteering for their candidates outside Sparks High School on Saturday, Feb. 22. © Jenny Kane/RGJ A guy named Tom who's actually for Joe was given a Tom shirt by a guy named Tommy. Got it? Joe Biden supporter Tom Payne of Sparks and Tom Steyer supporter Tommy McDonald of the Bay Area were volunteering for their candidates outside Sparks High School on Saturday, Feb. 22.

10 a. m. Saturday: Caucus Day got off to a slow start at the University of Nevada, Reno.

The campus polling place, home to some of the most delegate-rich precincts in Washoe County, was all but empty a half-hour before the start of pre-caucus registration.

Outside the Jot Travis Student Union, roughly a dozen campaign volunteers chanted, waved signs and munched on bagels to pass the time.

Things were a little more tense inside, where seven caucus organizers nervously huddled for one last round of final instructions about how to register caucusgoers -- and how not to talk to the press. 

Several could be overheard grumbling about the last-minute confidentiality agreements handed down by the Nevada State Democratic Party, which reportedly require caucus volunteers to “take all measures necessary to protect the secrecy” of state party information.

But most sounded confident in the steps the party’s taken to prevent a repeat of Iowa’s problem plagued caucus. 

A state party spokeswoman did not return the Reno Gazette Journal’s requests for comment on the practice.

9:30 a.m. SaturdayVying for sunny corners in the shade of Sparks High School, huddles of candidate supporters started to form before the Nevada caucus opened at 10 a.m.

The largest group was about a dozen Bernie Sanders supporters. Their site lead was Angelique Orman of Eugene, Ore.

“I was never into politics before but we’re at a tipping point,” Orman said.

Her vehicle sports clusters of “Bernie” bumper stickers, one of a bird sporting a balding haircut and one of Sanders in a forest of birds. One of the stickers she designed herself, “Climate voter for Bernie.”

On her rear view mirror is a former Christmas tree ornament that she hung just above her Bernie action figure strapped to the dashboard.

“I’ve traveled 10,000 miles for Bernie,” she said. “He’s the only politician I trust, the only one I trust to get the job done in the time we have left.”

9:30 a.m. Saturday: LAS VEGAS — The only activity buzzing inside Precinct Bellagio — the most valuable voting block in the Nevada Democratic Caucus worth 51 delegates — were national news networks setting up equipment and volunteers preparing the resort’s Grand Ballroom for voters.

Doors open at 10 a.m., and volunteers don’t expect the majority of voters to show up for a couple hours. This moment marks the center of caucus set-up.

Volunteers are informing press that they must remain outside the ballroom or inside a roped-off media “pen” during voting.

They are requesting that press do not intervene and slow the process.

9 a.m. Saturday: A small hive of activity hummed at Carson City Midd School, one of three caucus locations at the state capital.

In the sunny chill, a trio of Warren supporters manned a card table with Warren leaflets and donuts, encouraged by their candidate’s performance at the last debate. Asked about Warren’s chances with Nevada democrats on caucus day, they politely declined comment, saying they were obliged to refer any press to Warren campaign headquarters.

A similarly press-shy atmosphere permeated the high school, where volunteers were preparing for the arrival of at least a half dozen precincts, making this location the biggest of the city’s three caucus sites.

A USA TODAY reporter was asked by caucus site organizers not to interview anyone inside the high school or quote anyone from the volunteer staff, perhaps a reaction to the caucus fiasco that took place in Iowa. As yet, there was no line outside the school.

9:15 a.m. Saturday: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made her last pitch to Nevadans in Las Vegas ahead of caucuses on Saturday by highlighting trade, prescription drug prices and guns -- an issue close to home for a city scarred by a mass shooting at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in 2017.

The senator from Minnesota, with an unapologetically Midwestern style, is pitching herself as less radical than the front runner here, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. 

"If you are tired of the extremes in our politics and the noise and the nonsense, you have a home with me," she told supporters.

That message is about to face a big test Saturday. Klobuchar has been running behind in Nevada polls and a poor showing here is bound to raise questions about how she will fare in big states out West.

From Friday evening: 

Nevada will send only 48 delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

But the outcome of the party's caucuses here Saturday could be a far better indicator than Iowa or New Hampshire of which candidates are favored by Democratic voters in much bigger states out West.

"It might provide something of a preview of California and Texas on Super Tuesday and, by extension, Arizona," said Kyle Kondik, managing editor at the newsletter Sabato's Crystal Ball.

Nevada, after all, more closely reflects the demographics of the West today. It is the first state in the nominating contest where most of the population is not white. It is a "majority minority" state where sizable portions of the population are Latino, Asian and Black. And Las Vegas is the first major city to participate in the presidential nominating contest this year, bringing a large group of urban voters into the process for the first time this cycle.

Moreover, Democrats' fortunes in presidential elections could rely more in the coming years on states like Nevada if it loses parts of the East and Midwest, such as Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

"There may be a time in the future when Democrats have to win Nevada, Colorado and Arizona to win presidential elections," Kondik said.

So, keep an eye on the battlegrounds within these battlegrounds.

In Nevada, that would be Henderson and the beltway around Las Vegas, said David Damore, chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Republicans have lost ground in suburbs like these during recent years, not just in Las Vegas but in Phoenix and Houston, too, said Damore. These same neighborhoods could play a decisive role in November. It will be worth watching how closely results from those areas on Saturday align with the rest of the state, Damore added.

Damore suggested that a stronger showing for former Vice President Joe Biden or U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar in such areas might suggest that voters there are wary of nominating a more left-wing candidate.

One of the big arguments for moving up Nevada in the election year schedule of primaries and caucuses was that it would give more weight to the voices of Latino voters.

But has it worked?

After all, the frontrunners are all white and most come from the Northeast.

"Iowa and New Hampshire unfortunately still dominate so much of the conversation throughout the year leading up to the election, the first caucus, and obviously for a few weeks after that," said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who was campaigning for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a forum on immigration last week.

But, he added, moving up Nevada in the schedule of nominating contests has prompted candidates to engage with Latino voters here.

"The Latino community here in Nevada, in Las Vegas, is more engaged than a lot of other places where you have similar communities because the candidates are reaching out to them. The campaigns are knocking on their doors, sending them mailers, calling their cell phones. And that makes a difference," said Castro, whose twin brother Julian ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic Party's nomination and is now backing Warren, too.

Nevada is proof, the congressman argued, that campaigns can turn out Latino voters -- if they try.

Friday evening: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders used his last rally before the Nevada caucuses to make a case for nominating a candidate who can not only beat President Donald Trump but enact a slate of progressive priorities.

"What we're trying to do is not just defeat Trump but transform our economy and the way our government does business," he told a crowd of about 2,000 people gathered outside at Springs Preserve, a botanical garden in Las Vegas.

More: Here's how Nevada Democrats are counting ballots from the nation’s first-ever early caucus

As Nevadans head to caucus, Sanders sought throughout the night to draw a distinction between himself and other candidates to his right -- particularly former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is not competing in Nevada but has jumped into the race elsewhere in recent months with a substantial personal fortune to finance his campaign.

"I do not believe in oligarchy, where billionaires are buying elections. The last couple weeks, Donald Trump has been out there with his billionaire friends, gets $150,000 a person for the Republican Party. We got Michael Bloomberg worth $60 billion," Sanders said, the crowd booing the mention of both Bloomberg and Trump. "Bloomberg has every right in the world to run for president. He has no right to buy the presidency."

This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette-Journal: Live updates: AP says Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucuses, cementing front-runner status

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