Chuck Muth) – Nevada’s 2016 GOP presidential caucus is in the history books. And the various county conventions have concluded. So all that’s left is the Nevada Republican Party convention in Reno next month before voters cast their ballots in the June primary.
And delegates at that convention will again have to decide whether to take a leadership role in the nomination process or stand on the sidewalk and watch the parade go by. Yes, I’m talking about whether or not delegates will issue pre-primary endorsements again or if they’ll go back to the old days of leading less-informed voters from behind.
And yes, the folks who participated in the presidential caucus, showed up for their county conventions and will be attending the state convention are generally better informed than the average voter. And yes, there is absolutely nothing wrong with such party activists making recommendations to their fellow Republicans for the primary races coming up.
In fact, I’d argue it’d be a dereliction of duty for those delegates to wash their hands of their responsibility and send their fellow Republicans into voting booths without being armed with the collective knowledge and experience of some of the best informed voters in the state.
And let’s disabuse this ridiculous notion that there’s something wrong with the party’s soldiers getting involved in GOP primaries when many of the party’s leaders already do the same thing.
Indeed, Gov. Sandoval has endorsed in primaries. Lt. Gov. Hutchison has endorsed in primaries. And Sen. Dean Heller has endorsed in primaries. Why should the party elites be allowed to meddle in GOP primaries but not the rank-and-file foot soldiers who do all the grassroots work? That makes no sense.
That said, it also makes no sense for the party to try to control and manipulate the endorsement process the way it did in 2014. Candidates shouldn’t have to “apply” for the endorsement. They shouldn’t have to participate in some “star chamber” vetting process. And the endorsement vote shouldn’t be restricted only to candidates who jump through all those hoops.
Instead, just keep it clean and simple. Every Republican who filed for office should be on the endorsement ballot. Then trust the delegates to make responsible decisions.
However, in order to get the party’s official “seal of approval” a candidate should demonstrate significant support among the faithful beyond a simple majority, yet not at a level so high as to make it too daunting to pursue. I’d suggest a 60% threshold to land the coveted thumbs up.
An official party endorsement can be a powerful advantage in a close primary race if a candidate uses it correctly. But make no mistake: An endorsement would still be just a recommendation from well-informed party activists. The voters themselves would make the final decision on Election Day.
So let it be written; so let it be done.
(Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com)