(Lori Piotrowski) – They came from all over Nevada to Sparks. They traveled by car and by plane so they could participate in an historic party election. More than 300 members of the Nevada Republican Central Committee gathered at this special meeting to elect the party’s representative in the fall election for the second Congressional District seat.
On Friday evening, NRCC members roamed the hallways of John Ascuaga’s Nugget, moving from meeting room to meeting room, from suite to suite. They were hoping to talk with Amodei, Brower, and Lippold, candidates for the CD2 election, and McNaught and Tarkanian, candidates for NRP chair. Each room’s host or hostesss offered refreshments to the travel-weary, but also an ear to listen to concerns on the state and national level.
Saturday morning, attendees who hadn’t yet signed in made their way to registration. Proxies were entered in, and candidates had a few more minutes to glad-hand their way through the crowds. A few lesser-known candidates were on hand to plead their case to voting members. Candidates would have to be nominated from the floor, and they wanted the opportunity to be heard. One would-be candidate even asked that members pay his admittance fee.
At 9 a.m., the members convened to begin the election process. Acting Chair Sherry Dilley explained that earlier in the month, members of the NRCC executive board drew up Resolution S-101, a resolution to adopt special rules of order with which to conduct the election. After a half-hour of back-and-forth─motions, amendments, and discussions─the resolution was resoundingly passed and the floor was open to receive nominations for the CD2 election.
Of the 15 potential candidates, only three were nominated: Amodei, Brower, and Lippold. Following Western tradition, they drew cards to determine who would speak first. Lippold drew a jack, as did Amodei, and Brower a 10. A second draw determined that Lippold would speak first.
Each candidate explained their position on specific issues and why they wanted to represent the district. They all responded well during a 10-minute Q & A session following their speeches.
For weeks, Republicans had been arguing amongst themselves about presenting a united front during the election. This became a sticking point in Sparks. Both Amodei and Brower agreed to withdraw from the special election (if the courts decided the election were open to all), and Lippold did not. Some people believe that this may have hindered the latter’s chances in the election.
Members poured out of the convention hall to cast their ballots. And once the votes had been counted, it was evident that little, if anything, could have dissuaded voters from their choice. Amodei handily the election, garnering 68% of the votes.
In his acceptance speech, Amodei vowed, “I will do my level best to make your decision here today a smart one.” He added that he looks forward to debating the Democrat candidate wherever and whenever he can and he lauded Republican Nevadans for their “warrior spirit” in rebuilding the party.
He was readily embracing members, and receiving embraces, as he made his way off the dais to talk with the media.
After a brief lunch, members reconvened to elect a new party chair. Amodei, who had been elected chair last year to replace Chris Comfort, had stepped down when he announced his candidacy for CD2.
Once again, the floor was open to nominations, and two names were placed on the ballot: Patrick McNaught and Amy Tarkanian. Quick speeches were given and candidates were grilled from the floor, after which members again flowed toward the ballot boxes.
Candidate Tarkanian bested McNaught, by a more than 2-to-1 margin. As members prepared to listen to Tarkanian’s acceptance speech, McNaught quickly interceded, and in a heartfelt demonstration of party unity, requested that the body grant Tarkanian a unanimous win. This was quickly moved, seconded, and overwhelmingly accepted.
As members streamed out of the meeting hall for the fourth time that day, they discussed the results of both elections. Of the CD2 election, members felt that they had a difficult decision to make among three highly qualified individuals, saying that all were good choices. Of the NRP election, some discussed the desire to have a co-chair position so that both Tarkanian and McNaught could pool their talents and strengthen the party.
No matter how they cast their vote on Saturday, NRCC members were pleased with the selections that were made, feeling that the high caliber of Republican candidates was indicative of victory in the fall special election and in 2012.