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LAS VEGAS – The biggest loser in Nevada’s Republican caucuses? The state’s feckless GOP.
Unable to control how its county parties count and report results, state Republicans were scrambling Sunday to explain why, almost 24 hours after most caucuses ended, the votes still have not been counted.
Here in Clark County, home to two-thirds of the state’s population, officials counted ballots, by hand, until 4 a.m. before calling it a night. Counting resumed again at 9 a.m. By 11 a.m. local time Sunday, only half of the county’s ballots had been counted.
“About midway through the night I said, ‘This is ludicrous,’” state GOP Chairman Amy Tarkanian said Sunday morning. “So I sent my state party people down there, including my husband, and said, ‘Go help them count, this is crazy.’”
Tarkanian, whose husband is Danny Tarkanian, who ran unsuccessfully for the GOP Senate nomination in 2010 and who is seeking the nomination in a new congressional seat, said state and county officials are seeking to avoid a situation like what happened in Iowa, where two weeks after voting ended the state party announced that it was Rick Santorum, not Mitt Romney, who won the state.
With second place still undecided between Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul — a consequential matter since delegates are awarded proportionally here — Tarkanian said she wants to avoid looking bad, as did her Iowa counterparts when they finally announced new results long after their contest ended.
But it may already be too late for that — unlike Iowa, Nevada hasn’t even reported nearly complete results yet.
Chuck Muth, a former Nevada GOP executive director, wrote on his blog that the night was the “Nevada GOP’s national embarrassment.”
“You can say this about Nevada Republicans: they are consistent,” Muth wrote. “They never blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity. And hoo-ahhh … did they ever blow this one!”
Clark County GOP Chairman Dave Gibbs did not return messages left on his cell phone Sunday morning.
By all accounts, the night was a foreseeable disaster, months in the making.