There’s disarray and then there’s downright dismemberment. First, nothing should actually prevent a political party from endorsing candidates prior to a primary election or caucus, because even the endorsement doesn’t prevent other candidates from filing. However, since we’re discussing Nevada’s Republicans all bets seem to be off.
In the background
This internecine warfare was supposed to have been quieted in April 2012. Remember when Las Vegas City Councilman Michael MacDonald told one and all: “The name-calling ends today,” McDonald told Republicans gathered in Las Vegas to elect a new state leader. “The finger-pointing ends today. We go forward together as a united voice. We need to heal together today?” [LVRJ]
The optimism should have been tempered with a glance at the immediate past, and the past has definitely been prologue to the present situation:
“Over the past eight years, the Nevada Republican Party has had constant turnover at the top, lagging fundraising, a losing track record at the ballot box and difficulty registering voters.
It has also had to contend with factions focused on fringe issues — the specter of masses of illegal immigrants flooding voting booths and railing against what they believe are radiation-spewing NV Energy smart meters. If that weren’t challenging enough, divisions among Tea Party groups, Ron Paul supporters and establishment types have continually roiled the waters. The situation is so messy none of the state’s top elected Republicans want to get too close to the party’s workings out of fear they will be tainted by the troubles.” [LVSun March 2012]
The “Party’s workings” is a very polite way of putting it. “Working,” for example, would not have been a term I would have applied to the 2008 Nevada GOP convention, which came to an abrupt end without selecting delegates to the national convention. [LVRJ] An attempt to reconvene on July 26th proved fruitless, and the party leadership opted for a “conference call.” [WSJ]
2012 wasn’t much different. “A train wreck waiting to happen?” [LVSun] was the implied prediction, and the convention didn’t disappoint. Warnings from the Romney Campaign and the RNC notwithstanding the convention ended with Ron Paul supporters getting 22 delegates, which after adjustments by the national convention secretary would be pared down to 20 delegates. Democrats watched as former Governor Bob List and RNC National Committeewoman Heidi Smith lost to Paul supporters. Yet more prescient was the observation that none of the top candidates for office intended to get involved with the convention.
By the end of November 2012 the picture wasn’t close to clarified, as party members came close to censuring Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV2), and attempted to remove a Washoe County member of the executive board. Mike “Ensign’s Right Hand Man” Slanker was associated with a plan to create a separate 527 fundraising group from the state party, and the search for a suitable director thereof. [LVRJ] And, the result of the convention?
Now what does McDonald have? A state Republican Party that is broke and about to be taken over by Paultards, a farce of an organization that none of the real players in the GOP — candidates seeking high-profile offices and, more important, their high-dollar consultant such as Ryan Erwin, Mike Slanker and Pete Ernaut — want to have anything to do with, lest they get any on them.
Will those candidates or consultants urge influential donors to give money to the Nevada GOP? When McDonald approaches a deep-pocketed contributor, and that contributor seeks the advice of someone within the Republican electoral establishment — Brian Sandoval, say, or Ernaut — will the contributor be encouraged to go ahead and donate generously to the state GOP? [LVCityLife]
Up To The Minute
So, how could anyone be even remotely surprised that in 2014 Governor Sandoval, State Senate Minority Leader Mike Roberson, and Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey aren’t “participating in the Nevada GOP endorsement process?” [WaPo] The Party announced it would endorse primary candidates on January 23, 2104 [LVRJ] and by February 5, 2014 the Washington Post reported the major leaders weren’t getting involved.
In the mean-time, GOP candidates in Nevada might wish to consider using Jon Ralston’s template for filling out their Republican Party’s questionnaire for endorsement. Another point for possible consideration — changing the state party mascot from an elephant to an albatross?