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Electoral Battleground State Nevada Hosting National Women's March

Doug Puppel

Protesters gather at last year's Women's March in downtown Las Vegas.

Las Vegas plays host this weekend to the national Women’s March for 2018, something organizers say demonstrates Nevada’s importance in this year’s elections.

Speakers are expected to include Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights pioneer, and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.

Several Nevadans have prominent speaking roles, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Reps. Dina Titus and Jacky Rosen.

“Nevada holds a critical position in the upcoming midterm elections as a battleground state that will shape the Senate in 2018, and the perfect place to continue building our electoral power,” organizers said in a statement.

Honorary co-chair of the event Elaine Wynn said Nevada is "a microcosm" of the rest of the country.

"That is why people do really pay attention to Nevada," she said, "Our demographics are reflective of the country's activity right now and certainly politically we're just a vivid demonstration of the push and pull that's going on across the country."

She said the back and forth in Nevada's political scene is similar to what is going on around the country.

Michelle White is one of the organizers of Sunday's event. She said last year's event needed to be in Washington, D.C. but it is important for the movement to expand, especially to the West.

"We're on the precipice of so many important issues whether it's immigration, whether it's voting rights, whether it's a battle born state going into 2018, I couldn't think of a better place to have the Women's March this year."

" Power to the Polls," a get out the vote effort, is the theme of this year's event.

White said registering people to vote is the most important part of keeping the movement's momentum going.

"I think what we all are trying to do is a better job of explaining that we have the winning formula: When women go and vote and use their voice for the polls and elect more women into office those women then pass legislation that positively impacts women and their families."

The march, which is a rally this year, is set for Sunday at Sam Boyd Stadium, where doors open at 10

The keynote speaker will be Rep. Dina Titus. Titus said her message to the crowd will be to keep the enthusiasm and energy up through the November.

"I'm going to thank all the groups that have been so active," she said, "Thank people for turning out, say: Stand Up, speak out, show up and act out."

She said one of the reasons the organizers would like everyone to register for the event is so they can keep in contact with people who are interested in being politically active. 

And while Nevada is known for low voter turnout during mid-term elections, Titus believes that "people are so engaged and so outraged by some of the things that are happening, certainly here in Congress and in the White House, that they are going to turn out."

Joanne Goodwin is a professor of history at UNLV. She sees parallels between the Women's March now and the marches for women's suffrage in the early 1900s and marches for equal rights in the 60s and 70s.

"It is so true that women see a problem that needs to be changed some rise to leadership and take action and move forward and get other people to support them," she said.

The inaugural  Women’s March drew nearly a half-million people to Washington, D.C., in 2017 but it wasn't the only march. Other cities around the country and the world hosted marches. 

This year a s atellite event is set for Reno. Amber Black is the organizer. She said speakers are set to start at 11 a.m. at the Federal Plaza and the march will begin at 11:30 a.m. The march will end at City Plaza where there will be more speakers.

Michelle White, Women's March co-founder; Elaine Wynn, businesswoman and philanthropist; Dina Titus, congresswoman; Amber Black, Reno event organizer; Joanne Goodwin, UNLV professor

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(EDITOR'S NOTE: Carrie Kaufman no longer works for KNPR News. She left in April 2018)
With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.