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The Nevada GOP Empire Strikes Back!

According to Nevada’s #2 liberal blogger, Jon Ralston, GOP consultant/lobbyist Robert Uithoven – who announced on Saturday that he’s running against Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald for the GOP’s top job this weekend at the fall meeting in Las Vegas – has been endorsed by the party’s “Three Amigos” establishment leaders…Gov. Brian Sandoval, State Senate Minority Leader Moderate Mike Roberson and Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.

That, of course, should mean a slam-dunk victory for Uithoven, right?

Then again, the last time the GOP’s Three Amigos came together to back a candidate it was earlier this year for the re-election effort of Washoe County GOP Chairman Dave Buell…who lost.

So it would appear the party’s ground troops might not actually give a rat’s arse what the party’s elected officials – whose party involvement *maybe* includes gracing the rabble once a year with their presence at a Lincoln Day dinner – think.

Indeed, when was the last time Gov. Sandoval spoke to a Republican Women’s Club meeting, especially in Southern Nevada? Or any other GOP gathering other than an occasional Lincoln Day dinner pop-in/pop-out close to home in Carson City?

I mean, come on. The guy didn’t even show up for the Republican Party’s bi-annual CONVENTION last year!

Nevertheless, Ralston, referring to McDonald, blogged on Saturday that if the “highest-ranking officials of your own party wanted you to step aside, as a state chairman, wouldn’t you just resign?”

Which again demonstrates exactly how little the Little Blogger Who Couldn’t knows about and understands the GOP’s conservative base and grassroots activists.

Over the past couple of years, the Three Amigos haven’t helped build the party; instead they’ve helped build a “shadow” party run by political consultants Mike Slanker and Billy Rogers.

The Three Amigos don’t consult with party soldiers on candidate selection; they hand-pick their own guy/gal and shove it down the party members’ throats.

The Three Amigos haven’t helped raise money for the party’s operations; instead they’ve helped fund outside, third-party efforts duplicating the party’s operations under the direction of professional political consultants.

This is not to say I believe the party is solidly in McDonald’s corner. I honestly don’t know. The party is and has been pretty divided for the last few years…as it has been since, well, forever.

But the notion that those divided forces would care one iota what the Three Amigos and their consultants think is laughable.


Republican Kenny Guinn was elected governor in 1998. At the time, his chief-of-staff was Pete Ernaut, who is now chief-of-anointments at advertising powerhouse R&R Partners and Gov. Sandoval’s brain.

It was Ernaut’s belief back then (and apparently still to this day) that the governor should be the party’s titular head and should handpick the GOP’s chairman.

As such, Ernaut put forward political consultant Keith Lynam to run for the Clark County GOP chairmanship in the spring of 1999 against former Lt. Gov. Lonnie Hammargren, who was never a darling of the Republican Party’s establishment. And in that race, Guinn put the full support and prestige of the governor’s office behind Lynam.

Who was crushed by “The Hammar” on election day.

Those who learn from history would know it’s usually best for elected officials to just stay the hell out of party politics and avoid the potential for embarrassment. But some heads are harder than others.

So it should come as no surprise that “All the Governor’s Men” are calling GOP legislators – who are automatic voting members of the Nevada GOP Central Committee – urging them to show up at the meeting this weekend in Las Vegas and vote for Uithoven.

If Uithoven wins, the party establishment wins and the tail will once again be wagging the dog. But if Uithoven loses, the Three Amigos will emerge from the South Point Casino with gigantic ostrich-sized egg on their faces.

In the end, this election really has little to do with either McDonald or Uithoven as individuals; I’ve worked with both in the past and like both of them.

No, this race is a pure power play. It’s about who gets to run the party – the conservative foot soldiers who, for some reason, believe that GOP candidates should follow the party’s platform…or the stand-for-nothing, win-at-any-cost squishy moderates, lobbyists and high-priced political consultants.

There’s a LOT on the line for grassroots Republicans of all stripes this weekend.

Will the Ron Paulers, tea partiers and social conservatives unite to beat back the establishment’s takeover attempt…or will they sell out the steady progress the shoe-string movement has made over the last five years on the promise of major donor gold?

Stay tuned, Bat fans…


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