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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Judge dismisses Nevada caucus challenge

By KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 3 minutes ago

"We aren't voting here, we're caucusing. That's something that parties decide."

LAS VEGAS - Democrats with ties to Hillary Rodham Clinton failed in court Thursday to prevent casino workers from caucusing at special precincts in Nevada.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan was presumed to be a boost for Clinton rival Barack Obama in the Democratic presidential caucuses Saturday because he has been endorsed by the union representing many of the shift workers who will be able to use the precincts on the Las Vegas strip.

"State Democrats have a First Amendment right to association, to assemble and to set their own rules," Mahan said.

Nevada's Democratic Party approved creation of the precincts to make it easier for housekeepers, waitresses and bellhops to caucus during the day near work rather than have to do so in their neighborhoods.

The state teachers union, which has ties to Clinton, brought the suit against the special precincts shortly after local 226 of the Culinary Workers Union endorsed Obama for the Democratic nomination. The union is the largest in Nevada, with 60,000 members. The Clinton campaign said it was not involved in the suit.

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