(Jim Clark) – The Nevada Republican Central Committee held its first meeting since the election last weekend. 213 members from all over the Silver State braved an oncoming winter storm to converge on Fallon. We got a good taste of a rural Nevada as well as a very interesting meeting. Friday there was a dinner with low-priced drinks which gave me an opportunity to chat with other grass roots GOP volunteers about their views of the recent election.
Saturday morning Governor-elect Brian Sandoval entered to a standing ovation. He warmly addressed the group repeating his pledge to balance Nevada’s budget without raising taxes or fees. This earned him another standing ovation. Then Lt. Governor Brian Krolicki gave his analysis of the election results. After discussing all the GOP good news he turned to our most important loss. Statewide over 700,000 votes were cast. Harry Reid edged Sharron Angle by 41,000 while Brian Sandoval swamped Rory Reid by 84,000 so there was definitely ticket splitting.
How was the Harry Reid “machine” able to move his numbers 8 to 9 points almost overnight? It appears in retrospect that Angle’s fierce ad campaign linking Reid to illegal aliens was enough to fire up the Latino community. All Reid had to do was to get formerly unenthused Hispanic voters to the polls. Republicans should weigh such attacks carefully in the future particularly since the GOP now has Latino governors in Nevada and New Mexico as well as a Senator from Florida.
There was a discussion about the upcoming reapportionment of political districts as a result of the 2010 census. Democrats hold majorities in Nevada’s senate and assembly but Governor Sandoval can veto any plan that is overgenerous to the Democratic Party so the consensus was that this fight will dominate the 2011 legislative session.
Of considerable interest to Nevadans were the results of meetings last summer where both national parties agreed to expand early presidential primary/caucus states beyond just Iowa and New Hampshire. Sen. Reid insisted that Nevada be added to that mix. Republicans wanted to add South Carolina and ultimately both parties agreed to add both, so now Nevada will be in the forefront in selecting both Republican and Democratic candidates for President of the United States.
This is enormously important to Nevada, formerly “flyover country”, because all serious presidential candidates will need to spend a great deal of time in the four early selection states in order to build momentum for their campaigns. This means advertising expenditures, national press coverage and an opportunity to discuss Nevada issues with White House hopefuls. If you don’t think that’s important next time you fill up your tank notice that ethanol is blended into your gasoline. Ethanol was Iowa’s signature issue and their early caucus system got America’s would-be leaders to make some promises.
It will be up to each state party to establish the rules the presidential selection. The consensus at the Fallon meeting was that Nevada should again conduct a caucus as we did in 2008. Only this time the results should be binding on Nevada’s delegates to the national GOP convention. The next issue is whether the caucus results will be winner take all or whether each candidate will have delegates apportioned according to the vote outcome. Nevada Republicans and Democrats have until October 1, 2011 to come up with the final rules.
In any case in 2012 Nevada will be one of four “mice that roar” on the national scene.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)