Ron Paul Supporters Prevented from Casting Ballots at Special Post-Shabbat Nevada Caucus; Conflict Ensues
In a passionate display of strong disapproval over the Obama administration’s policies, Jewish voters and supporters of the Republican candidates are stepping forward and getting involved in the primaries and caucuses with many also reaching into their pockets and supporting the various Republican candidates and their super PACs.
The most recent caucus in Nevada is a prime example of Jewish involvement causing quite a ruckus.
The Nevada caucus took place on Saturday, February 4. The Orthodox community in Las Vegas, Nevada, made special arrangements with the Clark County Republican Party for an additional caucus voting period on Saturday after nightfall for Sabbath observers.
The requirement for admission to the Saturday night vote, which was held at the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Educational Campus, was the signing of a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that one could not attend the daytime caucus because of their “religious beliefs.”
The results turned into a confrontation with supporters of Ron Paul. Apparently the Paul campaign organizers had arranged an automated phone call to Paul supporters stating that those unable to attend the regular caucus votes could instead go to the Saturday night meeting. Paul supporters, who arrived after the Sabbath, found they had to sign the “declaration” which required them to be Sabbath observers. A number of non-Sabbath observers risked perjury by signing the declaration while many refused to sign it and were refused entry into the night caucus.
The evening caucus resulted in several heated arguments from people who felt that the event was discriminatory to those who were not Jewish who merely could not attend the earlier daytime caucus. A supporter for Ron Paul, Evan Donoghue angrily shouted to a volunteer that he was “guilty of a felony” when he was disallowed entry for not signing the declaration. Donoghue walked in anyway and was asked to leave while police were called. The disagreement ended with Donoghue being allowed to stay but not vote.
The heavy turnout of Ron Paul’s non-Sabbath observant voters gave the “Orthodox Caucus” vote to Paul, although the overall winner of the Nevada caucus was Mitt Romney. Officials of the Clark County Republican party argued that the caucus declaration requirement was legal as it did not mention Jews specifically but allowed anyone who had a religious objection to voting earlier to vote in the evening caucus. Many Seventh Day Adventists came as well as others who celebrate Saturday as their Sabbath.
In a Jewish Voice interview with Rabbi Shea Harlig, Director of Chabad of Southern Nevada, the Rabbi stated that he was present at the Saturday night caucus and he did not feel the situation was as dramatic as some of the media had reported. “It would have been better to just have another voting period open to anyone who could not make it during the day whether for Sabbath observance reasons or other reasons, that way we could have kept the specific religious observance aspect out of it.” Rabbi Harlig said that he spoke at the end of the evening thanking all those who made it possible for Sabbath observers to take part in this important political process.
Present at the Saturday night caucus was Mr. Sheldon G. Adelson, the CEO and Chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation (owners of the Venetian and Palazzo Hotels). He and his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson have been the key financial supporters for Newt Gingrich through the Gingrich Super PAC. As individuals are limited in the amounts they can contribute to a campaign, much of the money that is gathered is through non-profit organizations called super PACs (Political Action Committees) that can spend and accept unlimited funds.
The final Nevada caucus vote of 50.1% for Mitt Romney, 21.1 % for Newt Gingrich, 18.8% for Ron Paul and 10.1% for Rick Santorum makes it questionable whether Gingrich still has a realistic shot at earning his party’s nomination. Also in question in this, arguably the most volatile Republican primary campaign in modern history, is whether anyone but Mitt Romney can beat President Obama. With Gingrich still at second place behind Romney, all the millions that Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson are pouring into the Gingrich Super PAC seemingly may go to waste.
Gingrich has stated he will fight up until the Republican National Convention, but Romney supporters feel that the Gingrich supporters will eventually come their way as GOP unity will be necessary to beat Obama. Michael Roberson, a Republican Nevada State Senator says, “I absolutely expect that as this thing goes and it becomes clear that the Governor [Romney] is going to be our nominee, Sheldon Adelson will be behind Romney in a big way.” It has also been reported that Adelson has said that if Gingrich does not make it he will support anyone who can beat Obama. If this scenario comes true once again much of the major money for a Presidential race may be coming from a Jewish source; in this case a very pro-Israel Jewish source.
In addition to the Adelsons, it has been announced that the billionaire Koch Brothers, Charles and David and their friends have pledged $100 Million to beat Obama. The pledges were made at a three-day California retreat at the Coachella Valley Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells. When all the Primary and caucus activity ends and a Republican nominee is finally selected, the upcoming Presidential election will definitely be the most exciting and expensive event of the decade.