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Nevada Voters Still Considering Candidates As Caucus Day Approaches

A picture of Pete Buttigieg shaking hands with voters.
Noah Glick
Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg shakes hands with voters during a rally at Sparks High School, Feb. 16, 2020

Early voting is underway for Nevada's caucus, and candidates are making their way to Northern Nevada to stump. In the past week alone, our area has seen campaign visits from all, with the exception of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii.

On Sunday a hoarse Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts, visited Reno High, even though she was a bit under the weather.

Woman speaks to crowd with American flag behind her.
Credit Bree Zender / KUNR Public Radio
KUNR Public Radio
Massachusetts Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speaks to a crowd of over a thousand at Reno High School.

"They said, 'You gotta cancel your day in Reno,' and I said, 'Reno's been left out of way too many conversations for way too long,' " Warren told the crowd of more than 1,000 people. Some in attendance have already submitted their early vote. That includes Reno resident Stephie Michaels. Her biggest priority? Getting President Donald Trump out of office.

"The rest of it's important. I mean, I live on disability, okay? The housing market here is just stupid," Michaels said. "And all the stuff that everybody's talking about is important. We've got a budding dictator in that office right now. How do we recover?"

Her vote ended up going to Senator Warren on Saturday. "She got things done before she was a senator. That tells me she's got enough chutzpah for it, and I think she can do it," she said. "I hope to God she can do it."

Angeline Peterson is from Sparks. She's nearing a choice, but she's torn.

"My top two are Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg," she said. "I like Mayor Pete because I like his policies. I think he's a lot more moderate and I think that's what we need right now, but I also like Elizabeth Warren because she's a little bit more out there. She's a little bit more left, and I really just like the things that she has to say."

One person that Peterson says she can't vote for is Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. She said his policies would be too polarizing.

"I have friends who are Republicans who don't want to support Donald Trump, and I have friends who are Democrats who don't want to support Senator Sanders," she said. "So, I feel like there's got to be some middle ground that we need to come back and find."

Sanders campaigned Sunday in Carson City and drew a large crowd of support. He will be holding an event in Reno at the University of Nevada, Reno Tuesday. Biden and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also are holding more events this week.

As for Peterson, she also went to Buttigieg’s rally Sunday in Sparks, where more than 1,200 people came out to see him speak at Sparks High School.

Amelia Flores, a Buttigeig supporter, said she'll be putting Mayor Pete #1 on her early caucus ballot.

“I kind of like that he’s younger. I like that he’s very intelligent; he’s got a lot to share, and he doesn’t falter on questions or anything. He’s just very, very straightforward,” she said. More so than policy, she says she likes Buttigieg’s spirit and message of hope.

“I think that positivity is what we need right now," Flores said. "As a nation, I think that we don’t have that right now, and I think we need it desperately.”

For about 30 minutes, Buttigieg offered his pitch on a variety of issues, but the biggest reaction came when he asked the crowd to imagine a new dawn.

An image of Pete Buttigieg speaking to a large crowd in Sparks, Nevada.
Credit Noah Glick
Buttigieg addresses a crowd of more than 1,200 at Sparks High School, Feb. 16, 2020.

“It’s that image of the first time that the sun comes up over the mountains of the deserts of Nevada and Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States,” the presidential hopeful said to raucous applause from the crowd.

But not everyone were supporters. Some, like Emily Stewart, haven’t made up their mind just yet.

“I really like the energy and I’m excited to go vote, but I’m also very undecided now, [because] I saw Warren earlier and Bernie earlier, too,” she said. Stewart says she’s planning to vote Monday, but she may not make her decision until the final seconds.

“I might change my mind in that moment. It’s a hard decision," she said.

Stewart says she likes all the candidates, and as many presidential hopefuls continue to draw large crowds across the state, Nevada might also be waiting until the last second to make its decision.

Early voting for the Nevada caucuses continues through Tuesday.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Bree Zender is a former host and reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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