LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A slew of Democratic presidential hopefuls were in Las Vegas Saturday for a candidate forum, hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Of the 23 democratic candidates currently running for President of the United States, 19 participates in the forum at UNLV’s Student Union.
"It gives us a disproportionate amount of power relative to our small size," said Dr. Francis Joseph Carlton III, a political science professor at College of Southern Nevada. "We are one of the first states in the primaries and caucuses for the democratic party so we are well positioned on the calendar."
He added that Nevada is the first state on that calendar that is considered ethnically and racially diverse, which makes the Silver State a prime target for candidates.
Experts said an endorsement from AFSCME is highly coveted among Democratic candidates, as it represents a significant portion of working class individuals.
"We're still a union town, there's not many towns like Las Vegas left in terms of being a union town, we're one of the few," said Carlton.
Candidates fielded live and pre-recorded questions from union members on health care, public services, social security and medicare.
"We're moving in a blue direction, but I think as recently as 2014, Republicans here had a very good cycle. They had won all six statewide offices and both chambers of the legislature. So I wouldn't count the Nevada GOP out just yet," said Carlton.
The chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, Michael J. McDonald, released a statement on the candidates' visit to Las Vegas:
Comedy shows are nothing new to Las Vegas, but the one being hosted today featuring the clowns running to be the Democrats’ nominee for President of the United States may be the most disturbing one this town has ever seen. Bankrupting this country with socialist programs while putting the interests of illegal immigrants ahead of Nevadans is no laughing matter. Whether it’s eliminating private health insurance or opening up our borders, a vast majority of voters oppose the insane proposals these candidates are pushing. I have some unsolicited advice for the wannabe Presidents today: More listening, less talking. If any of them were to bother listening to a Nevadan, they would see that we are excited for the direction our President is leading our state and can’t wait to vote to keep him in the White House for four more years.
The candidates forum was scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Saturday, August 3 at the UNLV Student Union.