(Chuck Muth) – If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Republicans never blow an opportunity to blow an opportunity. And boy, did the Nevada Republican Party blow it BIG TIME at its state convention in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Party leaders had an opportunity to provide, you know, some leadership going into June’s GOP primary races by issuing pre-primary endorsements for races up and down the ballot at the convention – a plan that’s been in the works for well over a year and a half.
And they blew it.
The first BIG mistake they made was choosing to conduct the pre-primary endorsement votes at the convention rather than allowing the elected members of the organization’s Central Committee to make the decision.
That meant Republicans who only show up once every two years for the convention – as opposed to the Central Committee members who are involved almost daily – got to vote on candidates many of them knew nothing about because they haven’t been actively involved.
The second BIG mistake was deciding to allow multiple “endorsements” with only 50 percent-plus-one votes. For example, in the fourth congressional district race, convention delegates “endorsed” both Annie Black AND Sam Peters – which is the same as no endorsement whatsoever.
The third BIG mistake they made was not settling on a fair and open endorsement process WAY in advance and making sure all the candidates and all the convention delegates knew what the rules were.
I stopped by the convention around 1:30 pm yesterday afternoon on my way to the NFL Draft festivities on the Strip. When I got there they were still debating on what the process was gonna be…and no one understood it.
It was so bad that a motion was made from the floor to completely scrap the entire thing.
And get this: A MAJORITY of delegates, recognizing the entire process was FUBAR’ed, voted to scrap it completely. However, the party leaders then pulled out Roberts Rules of Order or whatever and informed the delegates the motion needed a 2/3 super-majority vote to kill it.
So the motion failed.
At that point, I realized my worst fears about the Nevada GOP screwing up the process had been realized. I lasted all of about 30 minutes of this circus before hearing that cold beer at the NFL Draft calling for me.
Before I left, one of the delegates, Jim Lamb, took to the mic and called for the convention to include EVERY Republican candidate on the ballot to be considered for an endorsement – which is EXACTLY what they should have done.
But they didn’t. And that’s because…
The BIGGEST mistake the party’s leaders made was trying to “fix” the endorsements. Instead of putting all names on the ballot in each race, the only names initially included for consideration were names put forward by the party’s “Star Chamber” nominating committee.
Now, if a candidate’s name was not put forward by the Star Chamber, candidates had to have their name put into consideration from the floor. And then delegates had to vote whether or not to add their names to the ballot.
Problem is, none of the “non-anointed” candidates knew that, since that option was never communicated to the campaigns. Ugh.
Worse, candidates who were told about the endorsement process were also told they had to apply for the endorsement a month before filing even opened in March. And then they had to fill out a written questionnaire and submit themselves to an oral interview by a panel of Star Chamber anointers.
But as former Nevada GOP chieftess Amy Tarkanian pointed out in remarks to the convention, a LOT of candidates either were never told about the process or didn’t decide to get into their race until after the deadline to request consideration.
Making matters worse, the Star Chamber then proceeded to recommend some candidates who never applied for the endorsement, never filled out the questionnaire and never subjected themselves to an oral exam.
So not only did no one know what the rules were, the Star Chamber didn’t even follow the vote-rigging rules they set up.
Even worse, convention delegates were never provided the answers to the questions the candidates who did apply had submitted to the Star Chamber. So the delegates were flying blind. The party expected them to cast a completely uninformed vote. They were just supposed to take the word on the anointers on the Star Chamber committee.
Now, you might think that all the Star Chamber’s non-recommended candidates had to do was show up and personally campaign for votes with the convention delegates.
But one non-anointed candidate I spoke to had a campaign volunteer show up and pay the $150 registration fee to pass out campaign literature. But he was told he was not allowed to pass out the information unless the candidate had paid to get a table/booth at the convention.
So much for free speech.
By late afternoon, the convention finally got down to actually casting endorsement votes in this fatally flawed and rigged process. And it backfired on the party’s leaders BIG TIME.
And boy, was it ever embarrassing for former President Donald Trump. Let’s look at three races…
1.) U.S. Senate: Against the advice of many NEVADA Republicans, Trump issued an early endorsement of Adam Laxalt over Sam Brown last summer. Since then, Laxalt’s entire campaign has been centered on the Trump endorsement, as well as others from The Swamp.
That includes Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both of whom traveled to Nevada a week before the convention to stump for Laxalt. With fire-power like that, Laxalt should have EASILY gotten the 50 percent-plus-one votes needed to get an endorsement, right?
He got exactly 50 percent. The vote was 163 in favor of endorsing him and 163 in opposition to endorsing him. How embarrassing. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t get Adam endorsed again, despite the Trump, Cruz and DeSantis endorsements.
As I’ve said for months, just because you like pizza doesn’t mean you like anchovies. And just because you support Trump, Cruz and DeSantis doesn’t mean you support Laxalt.
On the other hand…
Brown crushed it in the balloting, getting 258 votes (80 percent) in favor of endorsement and just 65 against (20 percent). So while Laxalt has the endorsement of high-profile out-of-staters, Brown now has the endorsement of the rank-and-file Republican party soldiers.
Whoever’s been advising Trump on these Nevada races has really let him down.
Frankly, I blame Ric Grennell, who upbraided me personally for not falling in line and backing Laxalt last fall. He appears to have allowed his weird personal affinity for The Chosen One to cloud his political judgment, and in the process alienated a significant number of Trump supporters here.
2.) Governor: Trump-supporting Nevada Republicans were stunned a few days ago when 45 announced his official endorsement of Joe Lombardo.
Now, unlike some of you, I’ll have no problem supporting Lombardo over Sisolak if he’s the GOP nominee. But the Trump endorsement was truly a head-scratcher for many.
Worse, I’ve been told – and if this turns out to be inaccurate, I’ll gladly issue a correction – Lombardo was the only name put forward for recommendation by the Star Chamber despite the fact he hadn’t requested consideration, didn’t fill out the questionnaire and didn’t sit down for an oral interview.
So in trying to rig the endorsement process on behalf of a controversial Trump endorsee, the rules applied to some candidates, but not others. Hardly a fair and open process.
A handful of other GOP gubernatorial candidates had their names put forward from the floor of the convention, including Joey Gilbert, John Lee and Guy Nohra. And here’s how everything turned out…
Lombardo: Despite having Trump’s endorsement and the inside track from the Star Chamber, the Clark County sheriff only got 31.5 percent of the vote. So no endorsement.
Lee: Still having trouble overcoming suspicions of his election-season conversion from Democrat to Republican, the North Las Vegas mayor only got 40 percent of the vote. So no endorsement.
Nohra: The comparatively unknown political newcomer surprisingly came up just short on getting an endorsement, garnering 49.2 percent of the vote. I’m guessing had the process been fair and open and communicated to everyone in advance, he’d have gotten the 50 percent-plus-one.
Gilbert: Crushed it. He got 68 percent of the vote and was the only gubernatorial candidate to receive the party’s official endorsement despite the Star Chamber not including him on its list of anointment recommendations.
3.) Attorney General: Although Trump himself hasn’t officially endorsed in this race, the campaign of Tisha Black is being run by three of the ex-president’s Nevada consultants who recruited her into the race against Sigal Chattah at the last minute.
Boy, do they have egg of their faces today!
Chattah, the legal-beagle warrior whose been fighting Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s shutdown and mandate orders for over two years, blew out EVERY candidate – including her moderate, Democrat-donating, Establishment-backed opponent – by racking up a whopping 91.2 percent of the vote.
This is what happens when the party regulars rebel against the party rulers who tried to control and rig the election rather than let all the candidates fairly compete for the votes directly with the party’s rank-and-file soldiers.
And while many people like to say, “I don’t like to say I told you so,” I ain’t one of them.
I told you so.
I’ve been advocating for a fair and open pre-primary endorsement process for years. I detailed the process that should have been followed in my 2019 book, “Red State Blueprint,” and warned about this year’s expected fuster-cluck in a Muth’s Truths column way back on February 27.
So the party leaders had PLENTY of time to fix the process, open it up, make it fair, and easy to understand. They chose not to. They wanted to control who the convention delegates were allowed to vote for.
And it blew right up in their faces. They fully deserve the embarrassment they brought onto themselves and the party…
And President Trump.
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FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“91.2% of delegates from across our state voted to nominate me. Republicans are sick of RINOs who’ve spent the past decade collaborating with Democrats, while lining their pockets and sacrificing conservative ideals. Nevada belongs to the people-not consultants, lobbyists or elites.” – Sigal Chattah, GOP candidate for Nevada attorney general
“It’s not like it (the endorsement vote) was close folks. The polls are bullshit and everyone knows it.” – Joey Gilbert, GOP candidate for governor of Nevada
“Adam Laxalt failed to get over the 50% threshold needed to also receive an endorsement (from the Nevada Republican Party) – a huge humiliation for a candidate who has relied on big name endorsements but lacks any grassroots presence in the state.” – Sam Brown, Nevada GOP candidate for U.S. Senate
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com