Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013 | 8:40 a.m.
Nevada Republican Chairman Michael McDonald said he was blindsided by a long-time Republican operative who decided to launch a last-minute bid for McDonald's position this week.
McDonald said he welcomes Robert Uithoven-- a Reno-based lobbyist who represents the Las Vegas Sands-- to the race, but warned that Uithoven has some catching up to do if he wants to make it a competitive race.
"Look, I've spent the last 18 months traveling all over the state, going to rural areas, northern Nevada," McDonald said. "I'd like to say that pays off."
Uithoven acknowledged Wednesday that he is exploring a bid for chairman of the Nevada Republican Party-- an organization that has been hamstrung by divisions among differing factions of Republicans. Donors and the Republican National Committee lost so much confidence in the ability of the state party to organize a ground game that they created a "shadow party" to help presidential candidate Mitt Romney and other Republican candidates in 2012.
McDonald, a former Las Vegas city councilman, said the shadow party was created before he became chairman in April 2012.
"I have a great relationship with the RNC," McDonald said. "I have great relationships with donors. We're in the running for a national convention. If I was doing a bad job we wouldn't be in the position for a convention."
McDonald said he launched a "house cleaning" of the party, ousting "troublemakers" in order to rebuild.
"When I was elected, the party didn't have an address and didn't have a sign," he said. "We've come a long way and we still have a long way to go."
McDonald said he had "a nice conversation" with Uithoven earlier this week when he learned Uithoven was trying to gather votes.
"This came out of the blue, but it is what it is. Anyone who wants to run can run," McDonald said.