State party leader says turnout 'over the top'

Democratic Party chairwoman Jill Derby said Saturday's caucus put Nevada on the political map.

Derby said the party thought a 10 percent turnout would be a success, but statewide the party reported 30-40 percent turnout.

"I'm so thrilled with the turnout," the Foothill resident and former congressional candidate said Tuesday. "The first time Iowa did a caucus they had 8 percent. That they got up over 20 percent this year was extraordinary. Imagine Nevada doing better than that the first time. The turnout was so over the top it was beyond anything we expected. We're delighted."

Derby said a lot of the complaints from the caucuses were directly related to the unexpected number of people who turned out.

"So many people didn't understand the process," she said. "We held mock caucuses, but people didn't really key in until the last few weeks. We had the phones ringing off the hook in Reno, from people asking 'How do I do this? Where do I go?'"

Derby said the party budgeted more than $2 million for the caucus.

"We passed around envelopes for donations, and we needed them," Derby said. "It has been very expensive to do this, and we spent a lot."

In response to claims that Barack Obama would win the race for Nevada's national delegates, Derby pointed out that the caucuses did not select national delegates on Saturday.

Derby said the delegates elected on Saturday will go to the county convention on Feb. 23 to express their candidate preferences.

"No national convention delegates were elected on Saturday."

As party chairwoman, Derby said the party had to remain neutral, but that Clinton clearly won the largest number of delegates from the caucus.

"That's the news of the day and why people showed up," she said.

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