There’s an old saying Nevada Republicans need to keep in mind going into the 2020 election cycle: “Vote early, vote often.”
First, I don’t like early voting. Never have from a conservative candidate perspective. It benefits incumbents and wealthy candidates who can afford the extra two weeks’ worth of campaign advertising.
But it is what it is. Not gonna change. So Nevada Republicans need to accept the reality and do a MUCH better job of turning out their voters early and “banking” those votes…especially as it relates to an aggressive absentee ballot program.
Now, as to voting often…
Yes, if you yourself vote more than once you’re breaking the law. But there is a LEGAL way to “vote often” and the Nevada GOP party organizations need to embrace it.
What I’m talking about here is PRE-PRIMARY endorsements.
If you are even remotely involved in politics, you’ve surely been asked by less-involved voters – family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. – who they should vote for in various races, especially local and judicial races.
And every time you make a recommendation and the voter takes it with them to the polls, you’ve effectively voted more than once. Legally.
There’s a popular theme going around social media: “You Had One Job.” Examples are shared of individuals who had just one job to do…and they screwed it up. Such as the street painter who misspells “SOTP” at an intersection.
Well, the official Republican Party organizations – at the national, state and county levels – have one job: To elect Republican candidates to office. That’s it.
And they duck that responsibility when they wash their hands of it by staying “neutral” in primaries, especially in minor, down-ballot races.
The fact of the matter is this: In a given primary there may be multiple candidates. And for various reasons – generally known by those actively involved in the political process but unknown by the great majority of voters – one candidate may be the strongest, best possible candidate to win the general election.
Remember: The party has one job.
As such, it is – or should be – the responsibility of party leaders – meaning the elected members of the GOP’s Central Committee – to review, evaluate and assess the candidates and make recommendations as to who the rank-and-file should vote for in order to nominate the candidate with the best chance to win the seat.
Contrary to silly objections by opponents of pre-primary endorsements, this does NOT mean the Central Committee is “picking the nominee.” It’s a recommendation, period. Voters are still empowered to accept or reject the recommendation.
But here’s the thing…
Just as it’s far more likely that your friend, neighbor, family member or co-worker will rely on your personal recommendation when they ask, “Who should I vote for?”, a sizable number of Republican voters who are not actively involved in the political process will listen to and follow the recommendations of the elected members of the party’s Central Committee in primary races.
As such, it is an absolute dereliction of duty for the party not to inform its voters who the best candidate is to go into the general election. Playing Pontius Pilate is not admirable. It’s political suicide.
“But, but, Chuck…what if a non-endorsed candidate wins the primary?”
Well, duh. You support the winner in the general!
Thanks to various changes in campaign finance laws over the years – thanks again, John McCain! – the political parties have been effectively neutered. Most of the money and much of the grassroots operations have shifted over to unelected, unaccountable PACs and organizations.
Which, by the way, endorse candidates in primaries.
As do the legislative caucuses.
As do elected officials and other individuals.
Everybody BUT the official party.
But the one thing these others DON’T have is the “brand” name. Getting the Republican Party’s official “Seal of Approval” is one of the few valuable things the GOP can offer candidates which can actually make a big difference in their elections.
And make no mistake; this isn’t some radical new idea. Republican party organizations in other states have been doing it successfully for YEARS. Decades, even.
That said, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do pre-primary endorsements.
First, there are going to be races where there isn’t a clearly superior candidate. In that case, it is perfectly acceptable for the party to remain neutral. To that end, in order for a candidate to get the party’s official endorsement they should be required to get a SUPER-majority of votes in an endorsement election.
Sixty percent. Two-thirds. Whatever. Just not 50-percent-plus-one.
Secondly, such an endorsement vote should be handled by the elected members of the Central Committee who are actively involved in party operations year-round, not convention delegates who may only show up for the convention once every two years.
This, by the way, will also make Central Committee membership extremely relevant and valuable. As such, both the quantity and quality of membership will be greatly improved. It will also force candidates to reach out and “woo” Central Committee members.
As it is now, Central Committee members are lucky if elected officials even bother to show up for Lincoln Day dinners, let alone Central Committee meetings. But if they know a potential endorsement is in play, they’ll HAVE to show up and participate more often year in and year out.
Lastly, the rules and procedures for obtaining the party’s official endorsement need to be clearly and publicly advertised so every candidate has an opportunity to compete. This process cannot, and should not, be cloaked in secrecy or resolved in some back-room “star chamber.”
Now, the big question isn’t whether or not the state and local party organizations should endorse candidates in primaries. They should. It’s a fiduciary responsibility.
But WHEN should the endorsement vote be held?
Conventional wisdom says such an endorsement meeting/vote should take place 4-6 weeks after the close of filing in March. This gives Central Committee members time to evaluate and “vet” all the candidates who file for all the various offices, as well as give the endorsed candidates sufficient time to let voters know of their endorsement before the election in early June.
But in some states the endorsement process takes place BEFORE the filing period opens. The thinking here is that if a candidate gets the endorsement before the official filing period it will discourage non-endorsed candidates from running and potentially avoid an expensive and messy primary.
I could go either way. The important thing is to do SOMETHING.
But my preference would be to hold a late-April endorsement meeting of Central Committee members once all the candidates are officially known because there are, sometimes, strategic reasons for certain candidates not to announce their candidacy until the last minute when they actually file.
But again, the “when” isn’t as important as actually doing it.
GOP leaders have one job: To elect Republicans.
If Nevada Republicans are serious about doing their jobs and winning back seats in 2020, then they need to establish this pre-primary endorsement process to help ensure the strongest candidate goes into the general election.
Staying “neutral” should no longer be an option.
But if it is, party leaders have no one but themselves to blame. And they will continue their historical practice of never blowing an opportunity to blow an opportunity.
Come on. Get in the game, guys!