Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to participate in Nevada’s GOP caucuses, his campaign announced Sunday, taking part in a system he and his rivals said was designed to benefit former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. DeSantis’ team has not previously said whether it will participate in the state’s caucuses, which Republican political officials have structured to replace the state’s primary election.
“Ron DeSantis is committed to earning every single delegate at his disposal as he works to earn the Republican nomination for president, and Nevada is no exception,” said Andrew Romeo, DeSantis’ campaign communications director.
Referring to the state party, he added, “It’s disappointing that the Nevada Republican Party changed the rules against the will of the people just to benefit one candidate. However, Ron DeSantis will struggle to master this tactic.”
A spokesman for the state of Nevada did not respond to an email seeking comment.
Officials in Nevada have made a bipartisan move to establish primaries instead of caucuses, trying to increase participation. But Republican Party officials refused to accept that and decided to continue with their own caucuses.
The move to deliver all state delegates through caucuses instead of their primaries is widely seen as helping Mr. Trump — he still has a strong hold on the party’s most energized voters, who typically turn out for such contests.
It was influenced by Michael McDonald, the state party chairman and a Trump ally, who was a mock elector for Mr. Trump in the state when the former president tried to overturn the 2020 election results.
Participating in primaries instead of caucuses would mean that the candidate would miss the opportunity to gather delegates, which are necessary to be nominated at the Republican National Assembly. The presidential elections in the country will be held on February 6, and the parliamentary caucuses of the Republican Party on February 8.
The rules were also changed to prohibit super PACs from posting speakers or literature on rally sites, after Trump’s team warned state parties about possible legal challenges to allowing outside groups to have a role. The campaign of Mr. DeSantisa relied heavily on his super PAC, Never Back Down, so the rule also puts him at a disadvantage.
Trump’s team has been aggressively working with allies to change the rules in various states to help him distribute delegates.
Although the caucuses are still months away, the decisions of the Nevada Republican Party have already caused some consternation among the rest of the field. Mr. DeSantis’ team abandoned its commitment to caucuses, while former Vice President Mike Pence decided to skip caucuses in favor of primaries.
Mr. DeSantis’ team is trying to show that it still plans to fight on multiple fronts, even with Mr. Trump far ahead in polls of Republican voters. The goal, campaign officials said, is to get Trump’s team to fight as hard as possible for each delegate and to remove the sense of inevitability that Mr. Trump has been projecting for months.
To that end, Mr. DeSantis qualified for the Virgin Islands caucuses and will host a virtual event there tomorrow. He was the first candidate there to qualify for the caucuses to be held on February 8, 2024, party officials there said. He has also filed for primaries in South Carolina, New Hampshire and Virginia, and his team is working to file full slates in states like Tennessee.