(Chuck Muth) – Maybe I’m just an eternal optimist, but 2024 is starting to look pretty good for Nevada Republicans.
First, they’ll have to get past the PR disaster about to unfold when GOP voters open their presidential primary ballots in a couple weeks and discover that Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump’s names aren’t there, thanks to the Nevada GOP blocking them from participating.
But the real political playing field next year, that will affect all of us here in River City, is the Legislature. You know the drill…
If Republicans lose one net seat in the State Senate, Gov. Joe Lombardo loses the power of his veto pen…which he was forced to use a record-setting 75 times this past session because Democrats passed so many bad, bad, bad bills.
Republicans are already in a super-minority in the State Assembly. But they only need to pick up one net seat to protect the veto.
The bad news is, Republicans have three tough seats up in the Senate next year that they have to hold, with only one Democrat seat on the ballot that is reasonably flippable.
The good news is, Republicans only have two incumbent Assembly seats in play – and both lean GOP – while the scandal-plagued Dems are facing a ton of incumbent resignations and/or decisions not to run for re-election next year.
The better news is that Republicans finally have a governor willing to risk political capital to elect legislative Republicans who will keep the state from being “CAlifornicated” and protect his vetoes.
The best news is that Team Lombardo has recruited perhaps the best crop of candidates I’ve seen in decades to compete for absolutely flippable seats despite Democrat gerrymandering in 2021.
As we prepare to exit 2023 and enter 2024, let me share some of the prospects…
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In the Senate, it’s crucial to hold the Clark County seat of Scott Hammond, who’s termed out. And Team Lombardo has recruited Clark County Fire Chief John Steinbeck. As such, Republicans should hold this seat. Website
The most vulnerable – maybe ONLY vulnerable – Democrat state senator is Dallas Harris in Clark County. It’s critical for the GOP to pick up this seat since there’s a very good chance Republicans could lose the senate seat of Heidi Gansert in Washoe County thanks to redistricting.
Team Lombardo has endorsed Lori Rogich for this race. Lori is an accomplished attorney with a LONG record of fighting for children with special needs. In fact, she won a major lawsuit against the Clark County school district for its failure to provide a good education for such children. Website
If Republicans lose Gansert’s seat (they still don’t even have a candidate there), hold Hammond’s seat, and pick up Harris’ seat, they’ll be able to protect the governor’s vetoes if Republican State Sen. Carrie Buck can hold her Clark County seat in her re-election bid.
So in the Senate, the GOP is in total defensive mode – but it’s not hopeless. In the Assembly, on the other hand, great potential…
In Assembly District 4 (Clark), incumbent Assemblyman Richard McArthur has opted not to run for re-election. Republicans hold a slight registration advantage there and a solid GOP candidate should hold the seat.
And they don’t get much more solid than Lisa Cole, one of the architects of the Apex Industrial Park miracle in North Las Vegas. Her business development background – including expertise in water rights – is second to none.
I’ve met with Lisa a handful of times since being endorsed by Team Lombardo and she’s the real deal. She should hold this seat against the former heroin addict the Democrats have recruited for it. Website
In Assembly District 21 (Clark), Team Lombardo has recruited retired Henderson Police Detective April Arndt. If crime is going to be an issue in the campaign – and it will be – you’d be hard pressed to find a better candidate for this Dem-leaning district. Website
In Assembly District 25 (Washoe), Team Lombardo is backing Diana Sande in this Dem-leaning district. Had a long lunch with her a couple weeks ago when she was in Vegas and came away extremely impressed. If anybody can flip this seat – the only flippable seat in northern/rural Nevada for the GOP – it’s Diana. Website
In Assembly District 29 (Clark), Team Lombardo is backing Annette Dawson Owens. If education and a parent’s right to choose their kid’s school is an issue – and it will be – Annette has a deep background in both public and charter schools and will run circles around Democrats trying to keep children locked in government failure factories. Website
In Assembly District 37 (Clark), Team Lombardo is backing David Brog, former chief-of-staff to U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter. This is perhaps the #1 pick-up opportunity for Republicans in the Assembly. Brog dipped his toes in the political waters last year as a congressional candidate, learned some important lessons, and is now prepped to flip this seat against an extremely vulnerable Dem. Website
In Assembly District 41 (Clark), Team Lombardo is backing Rafael Arroyo against the gun-grabbing Democrat Majority Leader in this Dem-majority district. Arroyo is a business owner who’s been at the forefront of efforts to make the DMV experience less of a nightmare – an issue that crosses partisan lines. If anyone can pull off a major upset against one of the Dems’ top leaders and rising stars, it’s Rafael. Website
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I know it’s a longshot to flip all five of these Assembly seats while holding McArthur’s seat. But not impossible if things break the GOP’s way next year. If so, not only will Republicans emerge from their current super-minority of 28-14, but would cut the Dems majority to 23-19.
That’d be a game-changer with a Republican in the governor’s office.
And it ain’t over yet. There’s still another two months to go before filing opens. If Team Lombardo is able to recruit some solid candidates for other seats who can pull off a miracle, it’s not out of the question for the GOP to wipe out the Dem majority in the Assembly entirely.
Stranger things have happened in politics. Remember back in 2014 when the Democrats’ candidate for governor lost in the primary to “None of the Above”?!!
Now, here’s the danger for Republicans: PRIMARIES.
They can be expensive. They can be bitter. They can be divisive. And they can hurt GOP candidates in the general if they get too nasty or too extreme.
Like in one of the congressional primaries right now where the “conservative” candidate is absurdly accusing the “moderate” candidate of being a Hamas sympathizer. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Conservative Republicans are gonna have some tough choices on their hands. Do you support the most “conservative” candidate or the most “electable” candidate?
I come from the Bill Buckley school: Nominate the most conservative candidate who can WIN.
Nevada Republicans have waited a LONG time for a Republican governor willing to expend political capital to recruit, endorse, train, develop, manage, and financially support Republican legislative candidates.
Nevada Republicans, stung by the eight-year embarrassment of ex-Gov. Brian Sandoval, have been screaming for a GOP leader who is willing to stick his neck out politically to save our state from becoming East California.
Now we have one.
Gov. Lombardo deserves a chance to “get sh*t done” with the candidates he and his team have recruited. And it does the GOP no good to run candidates in primaries against the governor’s endorsed candidates.
If his endorsed candidates were turds, that’d be a different story. But they’re not. They’ve been vetted. They’re top of the line. They’re experienced. They’re accomplished. They’re impressive.
And they’re electable.
Right now is the time for Nevada Republicans to focus on WINNING, not ideological purity. Let’s protect the veto in 2024 first, and then see if any “upgrades” are called for in 2026. We have a state to save!
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“HAPPY NEW YEAR!” – Chuck Muth
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com. You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.