By Riley Snyder

Despite adopting a rule change to effectively not hold a statewide presidential caucus, the Nevada Republican Party will vote to pledge its delegates to President Donald Trump on the same day as the state’s Democratic presidential caucus.

The state GOP’s planned winter meeting in Pahrump was intentionally scheduled to be the same day, Feb. 22, as the Democratic Party’s presidential caucus, Republican officials said, and will see delegates participate in a “presidential preference poll” designed to bind the state’s delegates to President Donald Trump without a large-scale, possibly competitive caucus.

Party Chairman Michael McDonald said in a statement that the party made the decision to hold its winter meeting on Feb. 22 to provide a contrast with national Democrats, who have 12 candidates running for the party’s presidential nomination.

“We chose February 22 to bind our delegates to the President because the contrast couldn’t be greater,” he said in an emailed statement. “While Democrats fight it out over which socialist will be their nominee, the whole country will see that Nevada Republicans are firmly behind President Trump’s campaign and will spend the next year sharing his accomplishments and working to re-elect him in November.”

The rules adopted for the “preference poll” allow the party’s executive committee, composed of about 300 people, to call for a poll of members to determine proportional allocation and binding of delegates to the Republican National Convention. A candidate other than the incumbent president can be considered in the poll if they file a nomination form signed by 20 executive committee members.

Trump, who received nearly 46 percent support and 14 delegates in the state’s 2016 presidential caucus, is facing two long-shot challengers for the party’s nomination — former Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

Creation of the poll and elimination of a statewide caucus follows the national trend of the Republican National Committee encouraging state parties to cancel primary and caucus elections to avoid any challenges to Trump.

In 2008, the presidential preference caucuses for both the Republican and Democratic parties took place on the same day. Nevada Democrats held a low-turnout caucus in 2012 on Jan. 21 (President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign) while Republicans held their caucus on Feb. 4. Caucuses in 2016 were held three days apart; Democrats on Feb. 20 and Republicans on Feb. 23.