Custer had a better day at Little Big Horn than Nevada Republicans had at the ballot box on Election Day ’18. The massacre was complete and textbook – including leaving one lone survivor, Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, to live and tell about the wipeout to our children and grandchildren.
The political slaughter was the culmination of an eight-year effort to completely destroy the Republican Party by RINO (Republican in Name Only) Gov. Brian Custer-Sandoval. Let’s start at the beginning…
From his first days in office, Sandoval – and his political hack consultant, Mike Slanker – conspired to bleed the Nevada Republican Party dry of support and operating funds. Major donors were instead directed to give their money to various outside organizations – including some controlled and managed by Slanker (for hefty “consulting” fees, of course).
This effectively neutered the official GOP operation, placing critical election activities – including messaging, communications, voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts – into the hands of unaccountable, and in many cases totally inept, political mercenaries for hire.
There’s nothing illegal about Democrats and unions busing people to the polls (whether those voters were legal or not is a different story). That’s called organized get-out-the-vote. No reason Republicans can’t do the same – other than the fact adequate funding, thanks to Sandoval, wasn’t provided to the Nevada GOP for such activities.
Then there was Sen. Dean Heller’s loss.
First, make no mistake. Heller’s campaign team – led by Slanker – was the pits. As I wrote many, many months ago, his communications operation was JV-level, at best. And Heller’s “Never Trump” antics in 2016 were never forgotten or forgiven by many Trump voters despite Trump’s herculean efforts to put that toothpaste back in the tube.
And give credit where credit is due: Wacky Jacky’s campaign portrayal of Heller as “Senator Spineless” was a stroke of genius, aided by “bi-partisan” Heller’s well-known history of flip-flopping on issue after issue after issue. Not exactly the kind of candidate who sends a tingle up the legs of conservative Republican voters.
But the real cutting issue that did Heller in was courtesy of Sandoval, who was the first “Republican” governor to fully embrace ObamaCare and expand Medicaid – a decision that will inevitably bankrupt the state or result in yet another ginormous tax hike on we, the people.
Thanks to that decision, Heller chose, surely under advice by Slanker, to oppose and scuttle the 2017 House of Representative’s bill to repeal-and-replace ObamaCare in order to rescue Sandoval’s Medicaid expansion. It was a bone-headed decision on Heller’s part which carried the issue into the 2018 campaign and helped cost him his re-election.
Then there was the largest tax hike in Nevada history.
Republicans who raise taxes, explains my friend and taxpayer champion Grover Norquist, are like ratheads in a Coke bottle; they destroy the brand. Sandoval is the biggest rathead in a Coke bottle in Nevada.
Thanks to pressure and/or promises of power gold at the end of the rainbow, former Senate Leader “Tax Hike Mike” Roberson swallowed the Kool-Aid and helped shove Sandoval’s record-setting 2015 tax increase – including the creation of a new business income tax – down our throats.
Not only did this cost Tax Hike Mike his primary race for Congress in 2016, but resulted in a crushing defeat this year for lieutenant governor at the hands of hapless Democrat “Calamity Kate” Marshall.
Indeed, the antipathy – bordering on hatred – for Tax Hike Mike was so bad and so deep over his betrayal on the tax issue (he signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge when he first ran for state senate), that even if you add every vote for one of the third-party candidates and every “None of the Above” vote (almost 58,000), he STILL would have lost by some 7,000 votes!
Yes, it was Roberson’s dumb decision to bite down on the cyanide capsule. But it was Sandoval who put that poison pill in his mouth.
Sandoval also pressured/politically-bribed Republican legislators to vote for his 2015 tax hike. Since then, 12 of the 13 GOP sellouts in the Assembly have been ousted. And both the Assembly and the Senate flipped from Republican majorities to Democrat majorities in 2016.
And subject to a recount in one remaining state Senate race in 2018, Republicans in both the Assembly and Senate could end up in SUPER-minorities (less than 1/3 representation), which means Democrats can now pass even more tax hikes – and there’s not a damn thing Republicans can do to stop them.
Then there was Sandoval’s knee-capping of GOP gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt.
No, he didn’t officially come out and endorse Democrat candidate Steve Sisolak. But he intentionally, knowingly, willingly, purposely and publicly did not support the Republican nominee. Indeed, time after time in interview after interview, Sandoval took the opportunity to criticize and undermine Laxalt’s candidacy.
And by undermining the top of the ticket, a decided lack of conservative GOP enthusiasm for coming out to vote and/or voting for Republican candidates helped cost the GOP races for Congress, attorney general, treasurer and controller as well.
In addition, Sandoval also helped ensure that what remains of the super-minorities in the state Assembly and Senate are controlled by wishy-washy, go-along-to-get-along mushy moderates. The Senate now has but two conservative Republicans and maybe four or five in the Assembly – depending on who’s appointed to fill late Assemblyman Dennis Hof’s seat.
In less than eight short years, Custer-Sandoval has effectively burned the Nevada GOP village down to the ground. Heckuva legacy.
Thank God Republicans have finally reached the end of this error. Now let’s see if a phoenix can rise from the ashes – *IF* we still have a state left two years from now.