With its Sunday, Jan. 21, date steadily approaching, it's reasonable to wonder why the Women's March is in Las Vegas this year. After all, the Women's March is a political movement, and Washington D.C. is the center of American politics. But there's a specific reason that 2018's main event has moved away from the nation's capital.
In a press release announcing its plans for the new year, the Women's March — which is both the name of the event and the organization running it — highlighted the fact that many of the the nation's top political stories were particular to Nevada. In addition, the Women's March has attached a new theme to its headline event, "Power to the Polls," which will emphasize organizing support for the event into support for specific causes. It appears clear, then, that choosing Las Vegas as the main site for the 2018 Women's March was, in part at least, a symbolic choice. Hosting the event in Vegas means the Women's March aligns some of its causes with the epicenter of major events related to those causes.
The press release highlighted three major events in particular.
Las Vegas Shooting
First, there was the mass shooting that occurred last October in Las Vegas, when a man opened fire from his room at the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing over 50 people and injuring hundreds more. The shooting sparked a renewed effort by politicians to push for gun reform.
More specifically, a number of members of Congress pushed for reform that would affect the use of bump stocks, a device that alters a firearm in a way that enables it to shoot more rapidly. The effort to push for reform on the heels of the tragedy in Las Vegas ultimately failed, however. No piece of legislation restricting the use of of bump stocks has been passed since.
Sexual Assault Allegations
The Women's March also highlighted the significance of Las Vegas when it comes to "recent sexual assault allegations against elected officials." Those allegations have been both a nationwide story and story particular to Las Vegas, specifically because of who has been accused.
In December, Ruben Kihuen, a House Democrat who represents Las Vegas, announced that he will not be seeking reelection during the 2018 midterm races. The announcement came a day after the House Ethics Committee announced it had begun an investigation into accusations that Rep. Kihuen sexually harassed several women and made unwanted advances.
For his part, Rep. Kihuen denied the accusations against him, but said he was stepping away from office so as to avoid distractions.
"I want to state clearly again that I deny the allegations in question" the 37-year-old congressman said in a statement, per The Washington Post. "However, the allegations that have surfaced would be a distraction from a fair and thorough discussion of the issues in a reelection campaign. Therefore, it is in the best interests of my family and my constituents to complete my term in Congress and not seek reelection."
Nonetheless, Kihuen's step aside makes Las Vegas relevant to the subject of gender inequality, which is a stated focus for the Women's March.
The Women's March has also highlighted the fact that Nevada has become a "battleground" for the 2018 elections, particularly with control over a U.S. Senate that is currently split 51-49 in Republicans favor up for grabs.
During those elections, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) will be running for reelection, in a state that voted Democrat in the 2016 presidential election. During the President Donald Trump's first year in office, Heller has been discussed as one of the Republicans who's seat in Congress could be vulnerable.
With the Women's March focusing on its "Power to the Polls" theme, which will see the organization make an effort to increase voter registration in swing states, it's clear what hosting the main event in Las Vegas will do. The Women's March's new location allows it to host its event in a city that aligns with its specific focus for 2018.