Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) might have just done Rand Paul a solid.

Allow us to explain.

Reid's home state, Nevada, has the chance to be a major player in the 2016 presidential nominating contest. That's because in 2008, then-Majority Leader Reid successfully maneuvered to make Nevada one of four early nominating states for Democrats. Not to be left out, Republicans followed suit.

There was one catch: Nevada's parties would hold a caucus -- the better to not upset New Hampshire, which understandably waned to maintain its status is the first state to hold a primary. (Nevada was originally scheduled ahead of New Hampshire, though today it holds its caucuses after the Granite State.)

The problem: A caucus is more difficult to put on than a primary and has lower turnout. It's also much more unpredictable. Across the nation, caucuses generally draw 5 percent of voters, while primaries can draw anywhere from 15 percent to 25 percent, Darrell West, an elections expert with the Brookings Institution, told me this spring.

In 2012, just about 8 percent of the state's Republican voters participated in the Nevada caucus, the AP's Nicholas Riccardi reported. That's higher than your average caucus, but Nevada is supposed to be a crucial state, where one would expect higher turnout.

And Nevada Republicans were particularly bad at putting on a caucus. In 2008 and 2012, loyalists to Paul's father, then-Rep. Rand Paul, essentially hijacked the party caucuses. In 2012, when the state's Republicans voted for Mitt Romney overwhelmingly, Paul supporters gamed the system to get an outsized number of delegates and then actually turned their backs at the convention and refused to cast their votes for Romney.

Paul supporters still have enough sway in the state party that this could happen again. And almost every Republican presidential contender -- except Paul's son -- wanted to avoid a repeat.

Their prayers appeared to be answered when Republicans in the GOP-controlled Nevada Legislature proposed switching Nevada's caucus to a primary. Simple fix, they said, that would solve their political problems and increase voter participation.

The bill had a lot of twists and turns, but eventually GOP party leaders got on-board. Allies for GOP front runners such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio were on-board. The state's Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, was on-board.

Harry Reid, however, was so not on-board.

"Sen. Reid and Nevada Democrats felt the bill jeopardized Nevada's early status," said Reid's spokesperson, Kristen Orthman, "because it created uncertainty."

Democrats were worried, they said. The bill had a real shot at passing and, they claimed, could end Nevada's early-state status.

Reid loves to meddle in his home-state politics. He's famous for it. And in the final, chaotic days of the legislature, veteran Nevada political journalist Jon Ralston reported Reid did just that.

The Senate minority leader called the one Democrat, Assemblyman Harvey Munford, who had supported the bill in committee. Reid had heard Munford was considering changing his vote, and Reid called the Clark County legislator to prod him along.

It worked. Sensing a lack of support, the legislature ended its session this week without assembly leaders calling the bill to a vote.

"At the end of the day, Republicans have a majority in both the assembly and state Senate, and they couldn't get it through on their own," Orthman said.
So Nevada will keep its first-in-the-West caucus, not primary.

And perhaps no two people are happier about that than Reid and Rand Paul.