Nevadans make the case to host first-in-the-nation primary

National Journal   ·   Link to Article

LAS VEGAS, N.V.—Trekking between doors in the blistering early-August heat looked easy for casino workers Miguel Regalado and Ermila Medina. The sun wasn’t even out, noted Miguel, in between conversations on the doorsteps, largely with voters of color. Miguel is a regular on these canvassing rounds, motivated to organize in part because costs of living are so high; unable to afford a place by himself, he rents a room.

The two were representing the Culinary Union, which represents thousands of hospitality workers in the Silver State. Though not strictly a political organization, the union has proven itself a powerhouse when it comes to electing Democrats. The majority of its members are people of color, largely Latino, like Miguel and Ermila, who hail from different parts of Mexico. It’s people like them who would benefit, say in-state Democrats and many national strategists of color, if the first presidential primary of the cycle were held in Nevada.


“This program of workers talking to workers is the answer to all the Democratic woes about what to do about working class voters,” Ted Pappageorge, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Union, said of its organizing effort. “It’s pretty simple. You got to talk to working class voters, first of all, and not talk about them.”

Highlighting the importance of mobilizing working people, the Culinary Union started organizing early this year, sending workers like Miguel and Ermila to knock doors beginning in March. Even in 2020, when the union was one of the few organizations at the doors for Democrats, it did not begin until sometime in August, according to Pappageorge. Last midterm election, it wasn’t until around Labor Day.

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