(Chuck Muth) – Old-timers in the Clark County Republican Party will remember political consultant Benay Stout, who passed away yesterday. For those who never knew Benay, a true unsung hero, here’s some background…
Benay was the rare campaign manager who had a track record of winning races for candidates who weren’t supposed to win. She was a champion of underdogs. And her record of success in Nevada is unmatched and unrivaled.
And she didn’t take crap off anybody.
To the best of my recollection, the first campaign she managed was that of her husband, Phil Stout – who passed away a couple years ago – in the 1990 election for State Assembly. In that race Phil won a surprise victory over Democrat incumbent Assemblyman Jack Jeffrey, the powerful Majority Leader who’d been in office for 16 years.
It was shortly thereafter that I became actively involved in the Clark County Republican Party and got to know Benay and Phil, who were already very active members of the Central Committee. Both helped my campaign for Chairman in 1995…a race I never should have won.
But before we got to that, Benay ran the 1994 campaign of an unknown, first time GOP candidate for Congress named John Ensign, who went on to stun the political world by knocking off incumbent Democrat Rep. Jim Bilbray in a race few (other than Benay) thought was winnable for Republicans.
Ensign trailed in the count all night. Folks at his watch party were pretty much resigned to losing. But Benay was watching the precincts that still hadn’t been counted and kept telling us it wasn’t over. And sure enough, when those Henderson precincts came in, Ensign pulled it off.
Two years later she did it again, this time managing the campaign of another unknown, first-time candidate named Lance Malone for Clark County Commission. In that race – again, one almost no one thought winnable for Republicans – Malone knocked off powerful incumbent Democrat Commissioner Paul Christensen who’d been in office 23 years.
Benay retired from managing campaigns shortly thereafter, but always remained actively involved in Clark County GOP politics.
Two other little-known things about Benay that she’s never gotten enough credit for…
1.) In 1995 when I was party chairman, Benay raised the money for a new voter registration program developed by party activist Dan Burdish using the new “motor voter” program to sign up the flood of new residents moving here and switch Democrats to Republicans.
Benay set the original program up through the county party because the state party was fighting with the county party. In other words, the more things change…
Anyway, a year later Nevada became a Republican-majority state for the first time since the Depression. Never would have happened without Benay getting us the financial support for the program.
2.) Benay was also the co-founder of the Keystone Corporation along with then-Republican National Committeeman Tom “Big Dog” Wiesner.
At the time, Keystone was set up to solicit major donor sponsors to host the 1995 Western States Republican Leadership Conference (WSRLC) at the MGM Grand, with the long-term goal of bringing the GOP’s National Convention to Las Vegas. The organization’s mission has changed since then, but that’s why and how it was originally established.
An interesting side note…
Back in the day, the Iowa “straw poll” raised a TON of money for the Iowa Republican Party. Benay wanted to incorporate a similar straw poll to boost interest in, attendance at and dough for the WSRLC. However…
The GOP’s leading presidential candidate at the time – Bob Dole, who passed away a week ago – was worried that he wouldn’t perform well in such a straw poll in Nevada and threatened not to speak at the conference if one was conducted. In the end, the Nevada GOP caved and scrapped the poll.
A couple of personal memories…
1.) In 1996, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio encouraged me to run against then-Senate Minority Leader Dina “I’m Not Happy” Titus in an overwhelmingly Democrat district.
Knowing by that time I wanted to become a campaign instructor, I also wanted the experience of actually being a candidate under my belt. So I agreed with one condition: That Benay would run my race so I could at least put on a good campaign even though it was destined to lose from the start.
We both knew my campaign was “mission impossible,” but she definitely made me a better candidate. The first thing she did was force me to buy a suit for the campaign trail. Hated it then; still hate wearing one today. But it was necessary.
She also taught me some hard lessons about fundraising. Sent me to meet with a utility executive for my first donor meeting. I blew it big time. But what I didn’t know was she had secretly coordinated the meeting with the donor, a longtime friend of hers, who reported back on all the stuff I said and did wrong.
Benay then straightened my ass out…fast.
And I’ll never forget the “woodshedding” she did with me at her home to prepare for my big debate with Titus on Titus’ home court at UNLV. She played Titus and hit me HARD over and over and over again with every question she thought might come up.
Frankly, I was scared to death. I’d never been in a debate before, let alone against an incumbent party leader whose day job was teaching political science at UNLV. But thanks to Benay’s debate prep, I held my own.
That same year, Ensign was running for re-election for the first time. And he gave Benay an ultimatum: Drop my race or he would drop her. She refused. And true to his word, Ensign dumped her as his campaign manager for his 1998 U.S. Senate run against Harry Reid.
Which he lost. Karma.
2.) Benay was also from the San Francisco Bay area and was a big rock-and-roll fan from the 60s. And during my campaign she and Phil took me and Gia (birthday tomorrow!) to see Credence Clearwater Revisited at what was then the Las Vegas Hilton. We had a blast. A night I’ll always remember.
“Forward troubles Illinois, lock the front door, oh boy!
“Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
“Bother me tomorrow, today I buy no sorrows.
“Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door.”
Benay Stout was one of a kind. Anybody can win re-election campaigns for well-funded incumbents. But to pull off three major upsets for under-funded challengers is another thing altogether. She was a true dragon-slayer.
The government approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine earlier this year. But now the government is saying the J&J vaccine is too risky after discovering a “strange clotting problem” that’s “caused nine confirmed deaths.”
The same government has for months been trying to convince skeptical people that the vaccines are “safe” and have been harassing the hell out of everybody to get the jab. Can’t imagine why so many people aren’t complying.
The Resistance is Growing
Bravo to the Washoe County Commission which voted 3-2 this week, along party lines, to terminate its State of Emergency there. As the Washoe County GOP notes, “While this action does not change the Governor’s mandates, it is the first step to making us freer in Washoe County.”
The Smell of Fear
“I’ll be honest, when Steve announced our $30,000 end-of-year fundraising goal yesterday, I was expecting a groundswell of support from this grassroots team. But after looking at our numbers this morning, I’ve gotta say, I’m disappointed.” – Eva Black, Finance Director, Steve Sisolak for Governor, 12/17/21
What District Are You Now In?
Now that the new district lines have been approved – subject to court challenge – you may be wondering which districts you’re now in for various offices.
Not sure about other counties, but in Clark County you can go to www.clarkcountynv.gov/vote, click on “Registered Voter Services,” input your personal information and pull up your current registration status and well as check for which districts you’re now in.
Checked mine this morning. Sadly, I’m represented by all Democrats except for school board. For that seat I’m lucky to be represented by Katie Williams. Go Katie, go!
ELECTION ’22 UPDATE
Republican Ron Quilang, a Certified Public Accountant, announced he was running for Nevada Assembly District 21 in Clark County. The seat is in a Democrat-majority district and currently represented by Democrat Elaine Marzula.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“I totally got f*cked by the Legislature on my district. I’m sorry to say it like that, but I don’t know any other way to say it. They could have created two safe seats for themselves and one swing. That would have been smart… No no, we have to have three that are very likely going down.” – Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV)
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com