By Chuck Muth
Conventional wisdom has it that the Nevada Republican Party is irrelevant because it’s broke. Allow me to suggest that the party is broke because it’s irrelevant. And here’s how it can fix that situation with a simple change to its modus operandi and without spending a dime.
Thanks in large part to the destructive side effects of McCain-Feingold, the party’s relevance has pretty much been severely limited to its ability to send political mail at the non-profit bulk rate. But as we saw in this last election — where non-profit political mail was sent via the Idaho and Colorado parties instead of the Nevada GOP — even that advantage can be circumvented by monied interests.
However, while big dollar donors can outspend the Nevada GOP a million to one, the one thing their money can’t buy is the state party’s version of the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. The “establishment” GOP can produce all the ads they want under the monikers of “Team Nevada” or “American Crossroads” or whatever, but what they can’t say is, “Endorsed by the Nevada Republican Party.”
The Nevada GOP is the franchise. Everybody else is a pale imitation. And believe you me, having the party’s official thumbs up would be EXTREMELY significant to a significant number of voters in GOP primary races.
Unfortunately, the party here has foolishly adopted a Swiss-like position of neutrality in primaries; opting to be “fair” and “let the voters decide” who its nominees would be. And that position has resulted in many elected Republicans avoiding the party like the plague — with the rare and occasional exception of a token appearance at a Lincoln Day Dinner.
Under McCain-Feingold, the Republican Party will never be able to raise and spend as much money as Super PACs and other third-party organizations. As such, candidates anointed by the “establishment” have no incentive to give the party regulars the time of day.
Unless … Unless those foot soldiers possess the power to give candidates something money can’t buy: their official imprimatur. And make no mistake; GOP organizations around the country already do this, usually with great success, including our neighbor to the northeast, Utah.
My suggestion would be for the party to hold a pre-primary endorsement convention in mid-to-late April and extend the party’s official endorsement to any statewide, congressional or legislative candidate who can muster two-thirds support among convention delegates.
Boy, would THAT ever make attending the convention relevant — for conventioneers AND candidates! Republican voters would still get to make the final decision, but the party’s ability to make an official endorsement would mean Republicans such as Gov. Brian Sandoval would no longer be able to treat the party’s grassroots activists like political lepers.
So let it be written; so let it be done.
The “establishment” GOP can produce all the ads they want under the monikers of “Team Nevada” or
“American Crossroads” or whatever, but what they can’t say is, “Endorsed
by the Nevada