The Silver State will play a central role in national politics once more in 2016—151 years after Abraham Lincoln granted statehood to help ensure his re-election. The Commission on Presidential Debates announced Wednesday the sites and dates for all four general election debates, one of which is located in my home state of Nevada.
Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, will host the first debate next year, on September 26. A week later, on October 4, the presidential nominees will spar a second time at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.
Washington University at St. Louis in St. Louis, Missouri, will host the only vice-presidential debate on October 9.
The presidential nominees will then gather a third and final time on October 19 at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. This marks a rare Western foray for the presidential debates. Only two general election debates have been held west of the Rockies over the past three decades, both in California. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney also squared off in Denver in 2012.
Nevada itself has been a crucial swing state in recent years, electing George W. Bush twice and Obama twice, and a bellwether state that voted for the eventual presidential victor in 25 of the last 26 presidential elections.
Jon Ralston, a veteran Nevada political reporter based in Las Vegas, is tweeting about the announcement:
People most responsible 4 getting '16 Vegas debate: 1. Harry Reid (early-state status) 2. Frank Fahrenkopf (Nevadan on pres debate commish)— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) September 23, 2015
For years, Fahrenkopf, ex-RNC chairman, tried to get a debate sited in Nevada. He was confident this would be the cycle. He was right.— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) September 23, 2015