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The Chaos Caucus: Some Final Thoughts

* After initially predicting over 100,000 Republicans would participate in the Nevada GOP presidential caucus, the party began ratcheting that figure down. First to 70,000; then to 55,000. I predicted 40,000. In the end, total participation in the Chaos Caucus: 32,894. Lame.

* Considering how fouled up the caucus was, as is, can you just imagine the nightmare same-day registration would have caused?

* The only thing worse than “spin” is bad spin. Get this: In a 2 a.m. press release this morning, the Nevada GOP actually had the stones to brag: “While in some states it takes days or weeks to complete certification, NVGOP certified the results in less than a day.”

* Of course, they failed to mention that despite promising to COUNT the results (except for the sundown caucus) by 7 p.m. on Saturday, the final tally wasn’t reached until well after the Giants upset the Patriots in the Super Bowl. That the “certification” followed shortly thereafter is completely meaningless and totally misleading.

* Part of the problem with the turnout was, frankly, that so many people thought Mitt Romney had the state in the bag – which, as it turns out, he did. Good for Romney; bad for the party – at least as far as driving up participation is concerned.

* Hat’s off to Ryan Erwin – the state’s top GOP political consultant who rode the Romney campaign to victory here from start to finish. He also possesses the unique quality of being a downright nice guy – unusual in his line of work.

* While it’s unfair, Republicans statewide have been tarred with the mess caused by Clark County. For what it’s worth, let me take this opportunity to point out that almost every precinct and county outside of Clark reportedly conducted an orderly and relatively problem-free caucus.

* How in the world did Newt Gingrich beat Ron Paul here? Indeed, the Paul folks were predicting that in a low-turnout election they would actually beat Romney! Well, turnout was about as low as you can go. And the Paul folks have been actively organizing for four years, while the Gingrich folks spent all of about two weeks on the ground.

* Let’s face it, the Paul operation here has been all sizzle and no steak. As Jon Ralston tweeted this morning: “Note to Ron Paul folks: No organization in ’08 and: 6,084 votes. Supposedly more org/enthusiam this year: 6,175. 91 more!” That’s right. Four years of huffing and puffing and bloviating the GOP house down…for 91 additional votes. Epic fail.

* No, wait…WAIT! It HAD to be voter fraud that allowed Gingrich to beat Paul! (“Ah, but the strawberries! That’s, that’s where I had them.”) Yeah, that’s the ticket. (Let the hate-mail begin!)

* And speaking of the Paul folks, I’ve been trying to tell everyone for four years now that the disastrous Nevada GOP convention in 2008 was sabotaged by Paul activists, led by Jeff “Chemtrail” Greenspan, who printed and distributed a fake delegate slate on a forged flyer on the morning of the convention and THAT’S what started the whole mess.

* Until this weekend, no one thought the Paul conspirators would actually do such a thing. Well, after the stunt they pulled at the “sundown caucus” on Saturday night, we all know differently now. (BTW: Is the party gonna prosecute the ones who lied under penalty of perjury?)

* One more reflection on 2008: Following the convention, many of the Paul folks and new tea party activists embarked on a plan to “take over” the Clark County Republican Party. Fine. But in doing so, they drove out a number of longtime, experienced conservative grassroots activists for no reason other than they’d been actively involved for a number of years. Enthusiasm is great, but experience counts. As we saw this weekend.

* Nevada Chairman Amy Tarkanian has already resigned – though to be fair, her resignation was tendered before the Chaos Caucus disaster. It is unlikely that Nevada Republican National Committeeman Bob List or National Committeewoman Heidi Smith will follow suit, but after this debacle – not to mention the Sharron Angle disaster of 2010 – neither should run for re-election in May. And if they do, both should be replaced. Not that they’re bad people. But real change requires real change. And real change is required. Big time.

* At the national level – made up of each state’s chairman, national committeewoman and national committeeman – the Republican National Committee chairman is almost always selected from among the members when the Democrats control the White House. The thinking is that the national chairman should have some experience running a party operation at the state level. Just being an elected or former elected official isn’t enough. Makes sense.

* As such, it’s time for members of the Nevada Republican Central Committee to self-impose a similar unwritten requirement. Clearly, if you have no experience running a county party – or at the very least a GOP women’s club or other Republican affiliated organization at the local level – you’re probably not ready to herd GOP cats at the state level.

* In addition, no money should be spent by the state party on anything else until it brings back and implements the “Five Star” program to start developing stronger local party leaders and operations. And any state party leader who doesn’t know what the “Five Star” program is probably shouldn’t even be a state party leader. Enough of this “amateur hour” nonsense.

* I can’t think of anything politically dumber than allowing non-Republicans to vote for who the GOP candidates should be in the general election. But if all taxpayers are going to be forced to fund primary elections instead of the party funding caucuses, then I don’t see how you deny every registered voter an opportunity to participate somehow. WARNING: Republicans foolishly now clamoring for the caucus system to be replaced by a primary better be careful what you wish for.

* In 2008 and again in 2012, Nevada Republicans have demonstrated that they don’t deserve early-state status in the presidential selection process. They ought to just go back to the old system: You hold precinct meetings to elect delegates to the county convention in February/March. At the county convention in March/April, you elect delegates to the state convention. And at the state convention in April/May delegates are elected to the national convention.

* So let it be written; so let it be done.


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