(Delen Goldberg/Las Vegas Sun) – Political operatives in Nevada have adopted a new tactic to confuse voters and influence elections. They are co-opting the names of political movements with which they have no affiliation — and often those they’re at odds with.
Remember U.S. Senate candidate Jon Scott Ashjian’s “Tea Party of Nevada”? Those claiming to be true Tea Party adherents claimed he was an impostor, and sued in a failed attempt to remove him from the ballot.
Another example came last week when a former Republican organizer registered the name “Tequila Party of Nevada” with the secretary of state’s office. This came two days after the Sun broke the news that Hispanic leaders were debating whether to form an independent grass-roots political group by the same name.
The individuals who registered the Tequila Party name, George Harris and Irma Aguirre, did not discuss their plans with Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, Nevada’s oldest Hispanic political group, and one of the leaders behind the idea. In fact, Republican political operative Chuck Muth (who later taunted Romero on his blog, “if you snooze, you lose”) admits having hatched the plan.
Muth said Harris, an anti-tax conservative and past chairman and treasurer of the Clark County GOP, had toyed with the idea of forming a “Hispanic Party of Nevada” earlier this year, but the effort fizzled. Then he saw the Sun story, publicizing the Tequila Party name and the Hispanic leaders’ plan.
“I said, ‘You ought to form it rather than let Fernando do it,’ ” Muth said he told Harris.
A day later, Aguirre prepared the party’s organizing documents, and Muth delivered them to the secretary of state.