The Nevada Republican Party’s best hope is Trump’s defeat

what could possibly go wrong
Nevada Republican Chairman Michael McDonald at the state GOP election night party, Nov. 6, 2018. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images)

As you may have noticed, the Nevada Republican Party has changed over the years. Once an effective political force to be reckoned with, it is now… something led by Michael McDonald.

McDonald (not to be confused with the former Doobie Brother of the same name) is a long-time Southern Nevada bounder who was installed for his fifth term as state party chair in Winnemucca last weekend.

McDonald’s wasn’t the only coronation celebrated in Winnemucca. He and party officials also made the following declaration: “No, Nevada Republican voters, you may not have a caucus in 2020, because even though there are three people (so far) challenging him for the GOP presidential nomination, Donald J. Trump, our Dear Leader, is, as everyone knows, infallible, and we don’t want to unnerve The Stable Genius by acknowledging that some Republicans don’t like him because he is creepy and lawless and promotes racism and lies all the time about everything.”

Okay, that might not have been the exact wording of the language adopted to scrap the GOP caucus. But you get the idea.

It is true, as some critics contend, that Nevada and other states moving to nominate Trump as if by imperial acclamation to protect Trump from embarrassment makes Trump look weak and insecure. 

But that’s only because Trump is weak and insecure.

And whatever McDonald may lack in commitment to open democracy, he more than compensates for that inadequacy through an abundance of cult-like obedience to a president who recently added the nation’s top weather-forecasting professionals to the lengthy list of animals, vegetables and minerals which pose an existential threat to the fragile psyche of Donald Trump.

Blind loyalty to Trump is not the only qualification (though it is a mandatory prerequisite) rendering McDonald an excellent choice to lead today’s Nevada Republican Party. 

McDonald is also a sterling example of how bedrock Republican principles and values can play out for patriotic Americans in real life.

For instance, one of the more memorable moments in McDonald’s illustrious career involved suing a movie theater in a personal injury lawsuit in the 1990s. If there is anything Republicans have always revered, it is salt-of-the-earth Americans demonstrating entrepreneurial gumption and good old American ingenuity by pursuing their constitutional right to win huge settlements from a business in court, with the dedicated assistance of trial lawyers.

More recently, in 2015, McDonald himself was sued after a charity on whose board McDonald sat loaned $2.2 million to a company which McDonald partly owned. Then the company went belly-up.

No wonder Trump and McDonald are so fond of each other. Theirs is a bond forged in the fire of shared appreciation for the financial vulnerabilities of charities.

About the same time that jiggery-pokery came to light, it was learned that McDonald was also very, very quietly earning the salary equivalent of $95,000 a year as a deputy state treasurer, a job which may or may not have involved an in-box. Dan Schwartz, the Nevada treasurer at the time, had earlier been a finance director for the McDonald-run Nevada GOP, so that was some Trump-style swamp-draining right here in little old Nevada. Impressive, no?

Schwartz, by the way, has announced he will run for the U.S. House against Democrat Susie Lee in Nevada’s third congressional district in 2020.

The fact that Lee is even in that seat is yet more testament to McDonald’s mad skills. In the decade after the district was created following the 2000 census, which is to say back when Nevada Republicans were a going concern, a Democrat won the seat only once. Two different Democrats have won it in the last two cycles. When Lee won it last year, she was the first Democrat ever to win the district during a midterm election when a presidential race is not on the ballot to drive Democratic turnout.

You see, apart from the fluke year of 2014, when the Nevada Democratic Party forgot there was an election so Republicans won everything by default, McDonald’s sticky mitts at the helm of the GOP have failed to steer the party anywhere near anything resembling an effective political organization that can elect Republicans.

In 2012, when the Nevada GOP was first disgraced, er, graced by McDonald’s chairmanship, the governor, lieutenant governor (a nothing job, but still), a U.S. senator, and half the state’s delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives were Republicans.

Today Nevada has one Republican congressman, Mark Amodei, and a single solitary statewide officeholder, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

And neither Amodei, Cegavske, nor even McDonald are the public face of Nevada’s Republican party in this the Year of Their Trump 2019.

No, the Nevadan (sort of) who Nevada Republicans have embraced as their Great White Hope to protect Nevada from radical leftist ideas like better wages, affordable health care, anti-racism, energy efficient lightbulbs, and, of course, the state of California is that rising (shooting?) young star of the Trumpist right, Adam Laxalt. 

(By the way Young Master Adam, a Sheldon Adelson production, is having a picnic this weekend. The menu features lamb testicles. The speaking roster features assorted nuts and fruits, some of which are rotten.)

So there you have it. The moral, intellectual, and strategic leadership of today’s Nevada Republican Party.

Luckily for them, Lee’s congressional seat is the only high-profile competitive race on the Nevada ballot next year (2022 is when the action is; the governor’s office and a U.S. Senate seat will be on the ballot). So Laxalt and McDonald shouldn’t be overly distracted from what they say is their deepest desire: Trump winning the electoral college again.

Yes, the chances of Trump winning Nevada are twofold: slim, and fat. 

But also luckily for McDonald and Laxalt, the best hope for Nevada Republicans to rise out of the McDonald-Laxalt-Trump-Adelson axis of defeat is a Democrat winning the White House in 2020. 

History has shown time and again there is no better opportunity for one party to make a comeback than the mid-term election of a first-term president from the other party. (See Tea Party, Obama and, 2010; Republican Revolution, Clinton and, 1994; or Blue Wave, Trump and, 2018). If Democrats win the White House next year, 2022 could be a great year for Nevada Republicans to regroup. This is why Adelson’s henchmen will instruct Young Master Adam that if he wants to ever win an election in Nevada again, next November he better vote for Elizabeth Warren, or Joe Biden, or Bernie Sanders, or whoever is the Democratic nominee.

A 2022 Nevada GOP renaissance would necessarily mean a post-Trump era when area Republicans would be in full-on Judas mode, denying any suggestion that Trump had ever elated and enthralled them. 

Wait, you say. How could McDonald and Laxalt (and for that matter Moscow Mitch and the rest of the congressional Republicans) possibly go from unconditionally worshiping Trump and Trumpism, and then turn on a dime and distance themselves from their beloved leader?

Oh please.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This article is the most biased I have ever read. This attempt at destroying any Republican candidates, specifically the re-election of Trump is just plain garbage. You represent Clarke and Washoe Counties – all Democrat ground. Sisolak came from that ilk. I am tired of your Liberal social agenda, and will discontinue having them dropped in my email!
    No, I am no relation to Michael McDonald. However, I am a solid Conservative Republican who is a Trump supporter and involved in the Douglas County Republican Party.

  2. Hugh is great at triggering all the tump cultists that after years of Fox news conditioning have lost the ability to distinguish between journalism and opinion.
    Someone call the wwaahhhambulance!
    😆

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