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January 29, 2015

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Who will rally the GOP troops in Nevada?


Steve Marcus

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks at fundraiser for John McCain at the Henderson Convention Center.

Brian Sandoval

Brian Sandoval

Neglected for nearly eight years by Nevada’s top Republicans, the state GOP needs a savior.

Depending on who emerges from next year’s primary, it could be the Republican presidential nominee who builds the party infrastructure that has been virtually nonexistent since George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election campaign.

Nevada’s top Republicans — Gov. Brian Sandoval, Sen. Dean Heller, former Sen. John Ensign — have proven they can get themselves elected but have shown little interest in the precinct-level organizing key to developing party strength up and down the ticket.

That dynamic might be poised to change. With the budget fight and legislative session behind him, Sandoval has more time to devote to party building — a task he has recently said he will engage in wholeheartedly.

“The Republican Party has to step up, and as the governor and a member of the party, it is incumbent upon me to be part of that effort,” he said. “I will put all my ability to help with that.”

Although Sandoval will play a key role in fundraising for the party, his name won’t be on the ballot next year.

It’s traditionally the top-of-the-ticket candidate who, along with the party when its healthy, drives the statewide organization effort to recruit volunteers, register voters and invest in a network to get them to the polls.

Four years ago, Republicans hung their hopes on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. But he failed to deliver, moving much of his regional staff out of Las Vegas and virtually giving up on campaigning in the state. (Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Nevada with a majority of the vote since John F. Kennedy in 1960.)

So who’s best positioned to be the Nevada Republican Party’s savior?

It’s difficult to predict who would keep the focus on Nevada enough to heavily invest in the party infrastructure. A simple early interest in the state — which is sure to be a battleground in the general election — doesn’t necessarily mean that focus would carry through a general election campaign. McCain, for example, included Elko on his announcement tour.

But so far, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has both paid staff in the state and a fairly healthy network that has survived since his 2008 presidential run.

That network was tapped in 2010 to bolster the campaigns of Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., and a bevy of Republican legislative candidates. Many of those lawmakers, as well as Heck, have signed on to endorse Romney.

“I think Romney proves the Nevada Republican Party’s best chance to have a presidential campaign make that a focus in Nevada,” said Grant Hewitt, Heck’s former campaign manager.

Still, the field includes some sleeper candidates.

Rep. Ron Paul’s supporters, who fought for him to the bitter end in 2008, have remained active in party politics, winning seats on county and state central committees. Paul also has a staff member in Nevada.

Herman Cain also has a paid staff member in Nevada and has campaigned here.

Although his primary strategy rests on winning Florida, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has also expressed an early interest in Nevada that could carry into the general election should he win the nomination.

And Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has yet to announce a presidential bid, has reached out to Nevada political operatives in search of a staff.

Other top-tier candidates, including Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, have focused on winning Iowa. They’d likely have little time to pivot to Nevada if they win the Hawkeye state.

Still, political operatives agree it will fall to the party to maintain the infrastructure built by a presidential candidate.

They say the best scenario is Sandoval takes the task seriously.

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  1. "They say the best scenario is Sandoval takes the task seriously."

    I am somewhat pleased that Governor Sandoval does in fact show an interest in taking something seriously. I guess if it is party politics, then he probably will shine.

    Because in other areas, he is not interested.

    Re-draw the district maps? Governor Sandoval can't be bothered to sit down and figure it out. He says the hell with it. Let the courts decide and do his job.

    Taxpayer money needs to be returned to Clark County? Governor Sandoval can't be bothered to sit down and direct efforts to figure it out. He says the hell with it. Let the courts decide.

    And in those instances, he prays the courts will lean Republican.

    Lip service.

    Governor Sandoval loves to talk and say he's doing something, but he's not.

    It'll even extend to party politics. He can't be bothered. The way he feels is he was voted into office without stating what his position was, so what the hell, he can do whatever he wants.

    But he does make sure he talks a big game, gets his face thrown out there, glad hand, then go get lazy somewhere and do what he wants. To hell with the people in Nevada. They are looked at by him not as voters who voted him into office, but as victims.

    Typical lawyer. I STILL say he works for Vargas Jones, not Nevada.

  2. I am hoping with all my strength, this party will drop all the social issues, work solidly on FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY this round. (Forever for that matter.) I want this State, with all it's Counties, united and work like a machine, and "git-er-done". I want our State back, I want our Country back. The big fish, like Bachmann, taking the conservative numbers in Iowa is one thing, but, could she win if she ran for Governor or Senator in Iowa? She'd have to win the whole State, NOT just those far right conservatives, so, could she win the State of Iowa? NO, and in a Presidential Race, she must win the whole state. All I can say is, they must feel good in that little room of "haters" cause they eagerly ask for the extra weight to drag through the media and show just how unreal they can be. We, the people, make liars out of our own politicians. Look at Obama, he promised everything to everyone, got elected, is able to pay off most of those promises but he calculated which ones were "not important", will still hang on and help him again. His calculations I sincerely hope, are wrong. Back to the big picture, those saying they are "Tea Party" candidates, go back to the original Tea Party ideas. The original ideas had NOTHING to do with social issues, smaller government, accountability,State's rights. Don't be fooled by a lot of the "tea party" designates, like the "Tea Party Express". They are simply a group that tagged onto the name and made it into a "big business", and "Tea", another big business that has hooked onto the name, has allowed all the "negative" republican crap to grab on. Stay with you "neighborhood" Tea Party people. Find your candidate's this way. We will be fine.

  3. dhenry - Thanks for the cheap amusement..............