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2020 Primary Post-Election Wrap-up


(Chuck Muth) – OK, now that the results are official – pending any recounts and/or lawsuits – here are my observations on some of the 2020 primary races in Nevada…

Biggest Winner: Annie Black

Annie Black, a freshman on the Mesquite City Council, smoked incumbent Assemblyman Chris “The Weasel” Edwards – 3,803 (61%) to 2,428 (39%) – in the GOP primary for Assembly District 19.  Because no other candidates filed in this race for the general election, Annie automatically wins the seat.

As the Nevada Independent noted, “Black’s victory represents a significant upset in the race as incumbents rarely lose their primaries.”  In fact, over the past three election cycles only four challengers have ousted an incumbent legislator in a primary.

I managed two of them.

The first was in 2018 when Dennis Hof clobbered Assemblyman James “The Big Selloutski” Oscarson.  The second was this one vs. Edwards.

And it’s not like Edwards didn’t have any money.  Just last September, according to his campaign finance report, he paid himself back $79,000 from his previous campaigns. We’ll have to wait until the July 15 report comes out to see how much, if anything, he actually invested in this race.

And as a side note to other candidates, allow me to point out that in both races, the winning challenger candidates didn’t knock on single door!  Hof because of a bad knee and Black because of COVID19.

Reasons aside, door-knocking isn’t the silver bullet that wins elections too many candidates and incompetent political consultants think it is.  A lousy campaign message is a lousy campaign message – whether you deliver it in the mail, on social media, in broadcast media, on social media…or at the door.

And Chris Edwards’ cookie-cutter campaign messaging and communications strategy SUCKED.  He and his consultants ran one of the worst campaigns I’ve ever seen for an incumbent.  We kept waiting to get hit hard, but all they swung at us were My Pillows.

And who was the consultant “genius” who engineered this embarrassing train wreck of a defeat for a three-term incumbent?

Well, according to Edwards’ campaign finance report – in addition to the incompetents running the Republican Assembly Caucus’ political operation – the bumbling, bungling boob was none other than Nathan “Li’l Nate” Emens.

In addition, an embarrassingly lame mailer against Black was sent out by a PAC created in May.  I still can’t believe how bad it was.  The “genius” consultant behind the PAC?  Charles Gallagher, a former aide-de-camp to ex-Sen. “Tax Hike Mike” Roberson.

If you’re a candidate who has retained either Li’l Nate or Gallagher, run, don’t walk, to that stack of pink slips and cut these malpractice munchkins from your campaign operation stat.  They are textbook examples of what I teach candidates in my campaign training workshops…

“There is more incompetence in the field of political consulting than in any field other than TV psychiatry.”

Biggest Embarrassment: Donnie Gibson

The Assembly District 4 GOP primary contest featured former conservative Assemblyman Richard McArthur vs. first-time candidate Donnie Gibson.

I’ve never met or spoken with Mr. Gibson, but he seemed to have had it all.  The Republican Assembly Caucus endorsed him over their former colleague.  He had all the institutional special interests on his side.  And from January 1, 2019 through March 31, 2020 he raised more than $160,000.

During that same period of time, McArthur raised all of…$550.

Should have been an electoral massacre.  But when the smoke cleared and the results were made official, McArthur had won by 129 votes!

Whoever ran Mr. Gibson’s campaign should be sued for malpractice.  Not 100% sure who the captain of this political Titanic was, but according to campaign finance reports it appears to have been Cory Christensen, an incompetent RINO-whisperer.

Also on the bridge when the Gibson ship went down was Li’l Nate Emens, who also was involved in the sinking of Chris Edwards’ embarrassing campaign.

Again, candidates, if you’re moving into the general election and have retained the services of Christensen, Gallagher or Nathan Emens, you need to seriously consider cutting these albatrosses from around your neck before they take you down with them.

Biggest Loser: Joe Bradley

Joe Bradly ran against incumbent Assemblyman Greg Hafen in Assembly District 36.  Hafen was appointed to the seat after Assemblyman Dennis Hof passed away before being sworn into office in 2018.  Here’s the sad story of what might have been…

Last October, Bradley dropped his political consultant and retained me.  I immediately began a complete overhaul of his entire campaign.  The next day Bradley emailed me…

“In one day, you provided me with more credible and usable information than I had received in three months.  I feel like I have a campaign now.”

And over the next five months I positioned Bradley for an upset in the race.  He had everything he needed issue-wise and message-wise.  And his six-week mail campaign was completely set up.  All he had to do was pull the trigger the first week in May.

But at the Nevada GOP meeting in Pahrump in late February, Bradley started to become unglued.  His paranoia and belief that everyone was out to get him was not only unwarranted, but self-destructive.  He was going meshugganah.

On Sunday morning, April 5th – after receiving a couple days’ worth of insulting and offensive emails from the guy – I gave myself a birthday present and fired him as a client.  Only time I’ve ever had to do that.  He’d become that unbearable.

At which point Bradley rehired the consulting firm he’d dropped last fall and abandoned the entire messaging and mail campaign I’d set up for him – even though I offered to stick around for an additional 30 days to launch it.

In addition, Bradley decided to begin falsely claiming that Gov. Steve Sisolak had appointed Hafen to the AD36 seat.  When I publicly called him out on the lie, instead of correcting it he doubled-down.  The man has a serious integrity problem.  And voters saw it.

Other than the one mailer I saw falsely claiming “Sisolak appointed Hafen,” I don’t know that he did any other mailers.  After I dumped him he never sent any more emails to the list I created for him (including past Hof supporters) and only posted one tweet on Twitter.

His whole campaign seemed to consist of nothing more than a few really lame Facebook posts.  It was like he just gave up and quit on his campaign supporters, further evidenced by this unfathomable decision…

Last November, while writing up his campaign plan, I emailed Bradley and asked if he wanted to debate Hafen.  He responded…

“We should challenge him to show he is a coward. he will not want to go toe to toe with me. … Bottom line is he has family money and corruption. I am an orator, he is an inexperienced little entitled nervous child.”

And for the entire five months before I cut him loose, Bradley taunted and challenged Hafen to debate him.

Then in mid-May the Pahrump Valley Times and Nye County Republican Party hosted a virtual debate for the AD36 contest.  Hafen participated, but Bradley ducked it.  Blew a golden opportunity.  He’d clearly given up and was just phoning it in.

In the end, Hafen crushed Bradley, 55-45 percent.  Shouldn’t have happened.  I’d handed that seat to Bradley on a silver platter.  But then he went a little cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.  The voters of AD36 dodged a real bullet here.

If Hafen doesn’t straighten up a fly “right” in the 2021 session, conservative Republicans will get another shot at him in 2022.  Just need to find a more stable challenger.

Biggest Turd in the Punchbowl: Erv Nelson

The Nevada Supreme Court D seat should have been a head-up contest between conservative Douglas Herndon and progressive Ozzie Fumo.

But Erv Nelson, one of the sell-out RINOs who voted for the largest tax hike in state history in 2015 – threw his hat in the ring even though he didn’t have a prayer.  That forced a “non-partisan” primary.

In order to win the seat in the primary, Herndon needed to get 50%+1.  He got 45%.  Nelson sucked off 10% of the vote from Herndon.  Now we have to needlessly battle this one out again in the general election…where all bets are off.

Thanks for screwing conservatives AGAIN, Erv.  Now go away.

Other races of interest…

Congressional District 3

Conservative “Big Dan” Rodimer whupped liberal “Little Dan” Schwartz handily.  Hopefully Mr. Schwartz will now move back to the Bay Area in Nancy Pelosi’s backyard and stay the heck out of Nevada GOP races.

Mindy Robinson came in third.  She’s got potential.  But needs professional campaign management and needs to run for a seat she can actually win.  There are currently three RINO-held Assembly seats she should be looking at for 2022.

Congressional District 4

Jim Marchant is a solid conservative.  But despite the recently revealed problems incumbent Democrat Rep. Steve “The Black Panther” Horsford has wrapped around his neck, this seat is still in the next-to-impossible category for Republicans.  Time will tell.

Sam Peters & Lisa Song-Sutton came in second and third.  They need to look at the map – bearing in mind the districts will be redrawn next year – and pick legislative seats they can actually WIN in 2022.  Ditto Charles Navarro and Rebecca Wood.  These are VERY promising young candidates.

Assembly District 31

Similar to McArthur’s AD4 race, the Republican Assembly Caucus chose not to endorse conservative former Assemblywoman Jill Dickman in the primary.  Various interests put up two challengers.  Dickman beat them, combined, with over 51% of the vote.  The establishment candidate – Dave Espinosa, who refused to sign the Tax Pledge – came in third with less than 15% of the vote.  How embarrassing.

Assembly District 37

Andy Matthews was such an obviously superior candidate – from the fundraising, political experience and conservative philosophy side – that it was nothing more than self-interested ego for the other Republicans to waste time and resources running against him in the primary.

Matthews was not only clearly the best candidate, but has paid his dues – and then some – in the conservative movement.  He got 50% of the vote.

Michelle Mortensen, chalking up her second electoral loss in a row, got 26% of the vote.  Jacob Deville pulled in 22%.  And Lisa Noeth scraped up just over 2%.  There were other seats these three could have and should have run for.

Assembly District 40

After finally getting rid of the last of the Dirty Dozen Republicans in the Assembly who voted for Brian Sandoval’s largest tax hike in Nevada history, RINO tax-hiker and former assemblyman P.K. O’Neill took the first step in regaining his District 40 seat by winning the primary 54-46%.

I might have to take a closer look at the Democrat in that race.

University Regent District 3

Interesting thing in this race is that two well-known conservative GOP activists will be moving on to the general election: Swadeep Nigam and Byron Brooks.

I’m sticking with Swadeep.  He’s better qualified and has more experience dealing with education issues.  Also, both he and Brooks ran for the Legislature in the past.  Swadeep signed the Tax Pledge.  Brooks refused to do so. And that’s always troubling.

But the best part of the primary for this seat is that former tax-hiking RINO Assemblyman Steve Silberkraus – one of the 2015 Dirty Dozen who lost his seat in 2016 and failed to get it back in 2018 – came in FOURTH in this race, garnering just 21% of the vote.

He needs to hang it up and move back to California.

Lyon County Commission

Remember Ricky Ortega, that California schemer/transplant who decided to wage war with conservative Lyon County commission candidate Dave Hockaday and my friend, Lyon County Commissioner Ken Grey?  Yeah, he came in THIRD in the primary with less than 15% of the vote.

Be best if he’d just return to the Land of Fruits & Nuts with Little Dan Schwartz and Steve Silberkraus.

Douglas County Commission

After a string of six successive ballot box losses, my friend Danny Tarkanian won a seat on the Douglas County Commission, ousting an incumbent.  Won by just 17 votes…but a win is a win.  And Danny was LONG overdue for a win after taking so many for the team by running in tough races vs. Dems in the past.

Clark County School Board District A

Liberty Leavitt is moving on to the general election in the Clark County School Board District A race, coming in second place in the primary with 19% of the vote.

I’m guessing most people don’t know she’s the wife of ex-State Sen. “Tax Hike Mike” Roberson.  Guessing it might have changed some votes if they did.

Clark County School Board District B

Conservative Katie Williams came in first among eight candidates and moves on to the general election.

The Left already hates her with the white hot intensity of a thousand suns for being and campaigning as an unabashed, Trump-supporting conservative.  Katie’s website features her wearing a t-shirt that reads: “Socialism Sucks.”

Williams is no stranger to controversy and no shrinking violet.

She was stripped of her Ms. Nevada 2019 title because of some politically incorrect social media posts she wrote, and triggered coronachondriacs in March when she tweeted that she went to Red Robin for a meal “Because this is America. And I’ll do what I want.”

The gal’s got spunk.  And unlike Lou Grant (ask your grandma), I love spunk.


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