(Jim Clark) – Last Saturday, the Washoe County Republican Party held its biannual convention. I have participated in a fair amount of these conventions, but this was the biggest and best organized. Nearly 1,000 delegates, alternates and guests came into the Peppermill from the lovely outside weather and spent the day getting the County GOP organized.
Why have county party conventions? First, we needed to elect or reelect the governing body, the central committee. Then we needed elect delegates to the Nevada state GOP convention, which in turn elects delegates to the national GOP convention in Tampa, Florida, this summer.
So, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, will the world little note and long remember what happens in Washoe County, Nevada? Surprisingly the answer is “yes.”
We are a bellwether. Former Las Vegas Review-Journal political reporter Molly Ball, who now writes for the Atlantic, points out that Nevada has voted for the winner in every presidential contest since 1912.
But isn’t Nevada dominated by overwhelmingly Democratic Clark County? Surprisingly the answer is “no”. In 2008, Clark County had 100,000 more Democratic active voters than Republicans. Today it is 50,000. That majority is offset by a similar Republican majority in Nevada’s rural counties. Washoe County is therefore the deciding factor in whether Nevada goes Republican or Democratic.
In 2008, Washoe had 92,000 active Democratic voters and 90,000 active Republican voters. Today there are 95,000 active Republicans and 82,000 active Democrats, so whether Nevada goes red or blue depends on turnout in Washoe County.
The agenda was full of candidates and incumbent office holders. Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R, Sparks) got the crowd’s attention reading party platform planks including: “We advocate immediate and drastic reduction of governmental expenditures by abolishing useless commissions and consolidating departments for a 25% saving;” “We favor a balanced federal budget;” “We advocate sound currency to be preserved at all hazards;” “We advocate a Navy and Army adequate for national defense;” “We favor the removal of government from all fields of private enterprise;” and “We condemn the open and covert resistance of administrative officials to every effort made by Congressional Committees to curtail the extravagant expenditures of the government and to revoke improvident subsidies granted to favorite interests.”
In conclusion, Hansen told us he was reading from the 1932 Democratic Party platform. I wonder how Obama would feel about running on that platform in 2012.
During lunch, we heard mini-speeches from candidates. It appears that there is at least an even chance of the GOP picking up as many as three Washoe County seats in the assembly; two more from Clark County and the assembly would be evenly balanced at 21 legislators in each party. State senate races continue to look favorable for Republicans with the Greg Brower – Sheila Leslie race in west Reno being the key to a GOP senate majority.
Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey had some words of praise for Washoe County School Superintendent Heath Morrison and drew a roar of approval from the delegates. School superintendents don’t usually get lauded at a GOP gathering
The last item on the agenda was adoption of a platform for the Washoe County GOP. The platform committee submitted 9 single-spaced pages of proposed party planks. They read aloud every sentence and, if challenged by even a single delegate, voted on whether to retain or eliminate the language. Picture a thousand delegates trying to agree on anything and you’ve got the concept. That’s why I advocate taking a hip flask to any GOP convention.
In the end, adjournment came about without anyone getting into a fight.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates and a member of the Washoe County & Nevada State GOP Central Committees; he can be reached at email@example.com)