(Chuck Muth) – Republicans never blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity.
This is a long one, so grab a cup of coffee…
The fact that Democrats hold 5 out of 6 statewide constitutional offices, 5 out of 6 congressional seats and both the State Senate and State Assembly with near super-majority majorities means Nevada Republicans, at the very least, have a target-rich environment for the 2022 campaign season.
Now add in the “red wave” building thanks to Bidenflation, Biden’s border crisis, Biden’s crime wave, Biden’s COVID catastrophe and especially Biden’s bungling of international relations, and Republicans have an electoral opportunity like nothing we’ve seen before.
Only said Republicans have the capacity to blow such an opportunity.
Which brings me to a somewhat “inside baseball” topic I’ve been writing about and advocating for for many, many years: pre-primary party endorsements.
Not gonna get into a long debate over whether the party should or shouldn’t endorse in primaries. It should. That *should* be a no-brainer.
The members of the party’s various county and state Central Committees are elected to provide LEADERSHIP to those registered Republicans who aren’t actively involved in politics year-round.
And washing your hands and declaring “neutrality” in primaries isn’t leadership. It’s an abdication of leadership.
The good news is, the Nevada GOP has decided this year to again issue pre-primary endorsements after an eight-year hiatus. The bad news is they’re using the same screwed-up process they used back in 2014, having apparently learned nothing from its previous failed experiment.
With official filing for office opening in one week, I finally learned what the heck they were doing on Friday. Some observations on the flaws in the process…
* Probably most importantly, the endorsement isn’t necessarily an “endorsement.”
“Multiple candidates may be endorsed for a single race,” the party advises candidates seeking a pre-primary endorsement.
Indeed, the way the process is currently set up, delegates to the state convention – the date, time and place of which remains undetermined at this point (probably late April) – will cast an up-or-down vote on each individual candidate, not vote for which candidate is deemed best.
So any individual candidate can get the party’s “endorsement” if the candidate receives “a simple majority vote from convention members.”
Which means it’s entirely possible, for example, that all nine GOP candidates for governor will get an “endorsement.” Which means it’s not really an endorsement. At best it’s really just a “seal of approval.”
* The endorsement vote won’t come from the elected members of the party’s Central Committee. It will be by convention delegates.
The problem here is that while Central Committee members are among the most active and informed members of the party – working day in and day out on party programs and operations – convention delegates can just show up once every two years.
Active Central Committee members know the politics, the issues, the process and the candidates far better than once-every-two-years convention delegates.
If you want more people to be more actively in the party, something as important as issuing pre-primary endorsements should be reserved for those who are most active and best informed.
* Candidates who have been aware of the coming endorsement process were told they had to REQUEST the party’s endorsement in order to be considered. This is a big mistake – one the party should have learned from its past failed attempt.
For example, let’s say that U.S. Senate candidate Sam Brown asks the party to consider his candidacy for endorsement, but his primary opponent, Adam Laxalt (who is actually leading in polls in the race at this point), decides, for whatever reason, not to formally request consideration.
And because of the way the process is currently set up, there are all manner of reasons (detailed below) why a campaign might decide that officially seeking the endorsement isn’t something in the campaign’s best interest.
But whatever the reason, in this example only Brown’s name will be placed on the ballot for consideration by convention delegates. That’s insane. Candidates shouldn’t have to come to the party on bended knee seeking a thumb’s up.
If they file for office as a Republican, their name should be on the pre-primary endorsement ballot. Period.
* For those candidates who do want to pursue the party’s pre-primary endorsement, they were told they had to submit their request by February 4th. This is really dumb.
First, there are a LOT of first-time, credible, viable candidates who have never had anything to do with party operations who simply don’t know the party is even issuing such endorsements this year, let alone the fact that they had to request consideration two weeks ago.
More importantly, though, there are still a lot of potential candidates out there who are still on the fence about running and, therefore, are in no position, at this time, to request an endorsement for a race they might not even enter.
And what about candidates who, strategically, don’t intend to announce their candidacy until they actually file?
For example, in 2020, now-Assemblywoman Annie Black, not wanting to give her primary opponent a heads up that she was running, opted not to file until five minutes before the close of filing on the last day of filing.
The way the Nevada GOP has its process set up right now, a candidate such as Assemblywoman Black couldn’t be considered for endorsement simply because they didn’t request consideration by the artificially set February 4 deadline.
But hang on. There’s more dumb to come…
* If you requested consideration for the party’s endorsement by the deadline, you don’t automatically have your name put forward in front of convention delegates. You still have hoops to jump through.
First you have to go through a screening process with the party’s “Nominations Committee” – a small group of about a dozen party members working behind closed doors in a smoke-filled back room. A “star chamber,” if you will.
And the appointed members of that Star Chamber will be the only ones to review and assess your candidacy and then make a “recommendation” to the convention delegates. This is just wrong.
If you’re going to allow the convention delegates to vote on various candidates in various races, the candidates should be making their case to ALL the convention delegates, not just a small gaggle of party power-brokers.
* Secondly, you have to fill out a 20-page questionnaire which the party assures will never be made public.
“Given the sensitive nature of campaigning and to encourage candid participation from candidates,” the Star Chamber advises in its introduction to the questionnaire, “our committee will keep all interactions with candidates confidential.”
And if you believe that one, you probably also believe Steve Sisolak when he says he won’t raise taxes if elected to a second term. But here’s the really dumb thing about this…
If the completed questionnaires will remain confidential and won’t be released and made public, how are convention delegates supposed to know and assess how the candidates answered the questions before voting, hmmm?
I guess they’re just supposed to just take the word of the members of the Nominations Committee.
Which means they won’t be casting an informed ballot; they’ll just be rubber-stamping the decisions of the Star Chamber. If that’s the case, then drop the façade that the convention delegates are making the endorsement decision and just let the Star Chamber handle it all.
* Lastly, candidates seeking the party’s endorsement then must subject themselves to a one-hour oral interview with “at least 4 members” of the Star Chamber.
Again, while the Star Chamber members will have access to the oral interview, the convention delegates charged with voting up-or-down on the various candidates won’t. They’ll be casting their ballots blind. What could go wrong?
And then there are the questions on the questionnaire…
* The very first question asks if the candidate has “ever been arrested, charged or convicted of a crime.”
Fair enough. I can understand why party leaders would like to know this information so they’re not blind-sided in the middle of the campaign. However…
There are lots of folks who may have been arrested for something, usually minor, in their past. Heck, I was popped for a curfew violation while drinking beer in a public park way back in 1979.
And if I was running, that’s something my campaign would prepare for if it came to light but is not something I’d volunteer to folks outside my campaign, regardless of “promises” that the information would be kept confidential.
Nevertheless, let’s say a candidate admits they were once arrested for money laundering on behalf of a drug cartel. The dozen members of the Star Chamber will know of this, but not the convention delegates who will be voting – not if the party’s claim of confidentiality is followed.
* Next the questionnaire goes through various sections of the party’s 2020 party platform and asks candidates to rate, on a scale of one to five, their support for each section – with 5 being “Strongly Agree,” 4 being “Agree,” 3 being “Neutral,” 2 being “Disagree” and 1 being “Strongly Disagree.”
For example, the first question asks the candidate how much he or she “agrees or disagrees with the Nevada Republican Party 2020 Platform Section Titled ‘Budget, Economy, and Taxation.’”
The candidates are then asked to explain why he or she agrees or disagrees with each section. Pretty subjective.
But more importantly is the fact that the convention delegates could potentially change the 2020 platform significantly during the same convention in which they’ll be asked to vote on pre-primary endorsements.
So candidates are being asked to express their opinion on a platform plank that may or may not even be the party’s position by the time the convention ends.
Regardless, let’s say the platform the candidates are asked to rate remains intact with no changes. But again, only the dozen members of the Star Chamber are going to know how the candidates answer the questions. The convention delegates will be completely in the dark – other than to “take the word” of the screening committee.
* Once the candidates get through the series of questions about the party’s platform, they’re then asked: “In 2020, what was your position on Ballot Question 4 and explain why?”
* The next questions on the questionnaire I reviewed were for candidates running for the Assembly (I’m assuming the questions for other offices are at least slightly different). It asks:
“What do you believe your relationship as a member of the state Assembly should be with the Nevada GOP when it comes to policies and the political positions supported by the party?”
“How would your political strategy change if you were in the minority versus a majority in the Assembly?”
“If elected to the Assembly, how would you work to curb the Governor’s emergency powers?”
“How would you work to ensure there is election integrity in Nevada?”
“Do you have any Bill Draft Requests in mind for the next session, and if so, what issues do you intend to address?”
“As an Assembly member, how will you work to increase communication, engagement, and transparency with your constituency?”
“The COVID-19 Pandemic has exposed a number of issues pertaining to the rights of medical patients. Do you support the ability of a hospital in-patient to designate an individual(s) to have full visitation rights? Are there legislative remedies that you would pursue to address this issue; if so, what?”
“How would you work legislatively for the ability of patients to designate an individual(s) with full visitation rights?”
“For the past 2 years, our Governor has utilized the emergency powers granted to him by Nevada Revised Statutes to effectively rule our state via a series of dictatorial mandates. What limits to those emergency powers, if any, would you be in favor of implementing to ensure that the state executive branch cannot continually usurp and undermine the responsibility of the legislature, as the representative of the people, to determine proper policy in those situations?”
Now, some of these are legitimate areas of inquiry. However (once again)…
The convention delegates who will be voting on the pre-primary endorsements won’t know how the candidates answered these questions. Only the Star Chamber members will know. How does this make any sense if the delegates are to cast a fully-informed vote?
* The last question is a real doozy…
- “If you are endorsed by the Nevada Republican Party and your voting record as a voting member of the legislature runs contrary to your answers during the endorsement process; Do you expect the NRP would support you during your re-election? Would you find it appropriate if the NRP found someone to run against you as a result?”
Now here’s the thing…
This question is designed to address an ongoing problem with certain Republican candidates; candidates who say one thing on the campaign trail but do the exact opposite once elected.
For example, every Republican candidate on the ballot in 2014 claimed they were against tax hikes. However, half of them ended up voting FOR the largest tax hike in state history in the 2015 session.
So it’s a real problem. However…
If the candidate’s answers to the questions are to remain strictly confidential, as promised, how is anyone to know if the candidate’s voting record “runs contrary to your answers during the endorsement process”?
Again, this entire convoluted process makes absolutely no sense.
The real decision on who gets or doesn’t get the party’s endorsement will lay (or is it lie?) in the hands of just a dozen chosen members of the Star Chamber, not the delegates to the convention who will neither see the answers to the questionnaire nor be able to view the oral interviews.
That’s just not right.
So here’s how the party SHOULD handle this…
1.) The party should wait until AFTER the close of filing before considering any pre-primary endorsements so all candidates are officially known (a number of currently-announced candidates will ultimately not actually file for office).
2.) ALL GOP candidates should be included on the ballot without any pre-screening by any ad hoc small group of party insiders and without having to make a “request” for the endorsement.
3.) A special endorsement meeting of the CENTRAL COMMITTEE should be convened in April where the pre-primary endorsement elections are held, not at the convention.
4.) The names and mailing addresses (not phone or email addresses) of each member of the Central Committee should be published so the various candidates can get in touch with them through the mail.
Let the candidates compete directly with the voting members of the Central Committee rather than filtering their message through an appointed Star Chamber.
This should NOT be a bone of contention for Central Committee members. After all, you must be a registered Republican voter to serve on the Central Committee – and with few rare exceptions (such as for undercover police officers), that address is a public record.
The names of the elected members of the party’s Central Committee should not be some kind of state secret. If you don’t want to hear from Republican candidates, then don’t get on the Central Committee. Sheesh.
5.) With all eligible candidates on the ballot, the Central Committee then votes for which candidate the members believe is the best candidate deserving the party’s official endorsement whether they asked for the endorsement or not.
That means, as per my earlier example, both Sam Brown and Adam Laxalt would appear on the ballot even if Laxalt didn’t “request” the endorsement, as well as any lesser candidates who may end up filing in the U.S. Senate race.
6.) Now, in order to receive the party’s official endorsement, a candidate in any given race should have to receive a super-majority vote of the Central Committee members. For argument’s sake, let’s say the candidate has to receive 60% of the vote or more.
By requiring a super-majority vote, that makes it clear that one candidate is clearly viewed as superior to the others in the field.
If no candidate in a particular race is able to get such super-majority support, THEN the party’s official position in that particular race would be “no endorsement” of anyone. So if Candidate A gets 50.1% of the vote and Candidate B gets 49.9% of the vote…neither gets the endorsement.
Or let’s say Adam Laxalt gets 55% of the vote, Sam Brown gets 35% of the vote, Sharelle Mendenhall gets 7% of the vote and Bill Hockstedler gets 3%…Laxalt still wouldn’t get the endorsement because he failed to get super-majority support.
Making no endorsement in a race is far better than endorsing everyone in the race – which makes such an endorsement totally meaningless.
7.) Candidates who win super-majority support should then be allowed to advertise their party endorsement and gain access to a variety of party support programs. The others should get bupkis. Otherwise the endorsement is, again, pretty much meaningless other than for bragging rights.
Kudos to the Nevada GOP for making the right call in again trying to provide a little leadership by offering official pre-primary endorsements.
But raspberries for once again screwing up the process for obtaining such endorsements in an effort to control the process instead of letting all the candidates compete for it fair-and-square with the actual voters in the election.
If the party elders aren’t willing to do this thing correctly, then they should just forget about issuing any “endorsements” and simply conduct a preference “straw poll” at the convention and let the candidates deal with the results afterwards.
And the beat goes on…
Boot Camp Update
I’m sad to report that the Campaign Boot Camp I was hoping to do in northern Nevada on March 19 has been cancelled. But don’t blame me.
I was hoping to coordinate the training program with the GOP county parties in Washoe, Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties – but was advised on Friday by folks trying to put everything together that because I’m “a private company, the GOP cannot do it in their offices.”
I’ve been training candidates for over 25 years now, including for the Republican National Committee. And I was willing to donate my time (three days, including a 7-hour drive each way up-and-back) and travel expenses. So something else is clearly at play here.
Whatever. I’m not going to beg the party to let me help it.
Also, the March 12 Boot Camp in Las Vegas is being rescheduled. I will instead be teaming up with the Leadership Institute and volunteer as one of their instructors for their planned four-day Campaign Academy.
We’re tentatively looking at March 25 and 26 for Part I and April 8 and 9 for Part II. The tentative agenda includes four main topics: Strategy, Ground Game, Communications and Fundraising.
I’ll get everyone more details once firmed up.
New Tax Pledge Signers ‘22
- John Lee – Governor
- Carolina Serrano – Congress, District 1
- Dave Hockaday – Lyon County Commission
- Jenann Logan – Assembly District 8
For the complete, running list of taxpayer champions who have pledged to “oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes,” click here
If you’ve already signed and your name is not on the list, please forward a copy of your Pledge to email@example.com. If you need a copy of the Pledge to sign, shoot me an email noting what seat you’re running for and I’ll send it to you.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“Mitch McConnell’s plan to defeat President Trump is getting anti-MAGA candidates in the US Senate. Any candidate that does NOT commit to NOT vote for McConnell as ‘Leader’ is not worthy of your support and you should NOT vote for them.” – Steve Bannon
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com