Commentary

The big Republican endorsement of a Democrat we’re all waiting for

August 5, 2022 7:57 am

Nevada crackpot conspiracy theorist and Republican secretary of state candidate Jim Marchant, pictured here with a campaign prop. (Marchant campaign video screengrab)

High-powered Republican political consultant and high-dollar lobbyist Pete Ernaut endorsed Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto over Republican challenger Adam Laxalt.  Cortez Masto  has also been endorsed by a trio of rural Nevada Republican officials – the mayors of Winnemucca and Ely, and a Churchill County commissioner.

One-time Republican state Senate Majority Leader and 2018 GOP lieutenant governor nominee Mike Roberson endorsed Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford over Republican Sigal Chattah. “Republicans for Ford” also include Jon Porter, a former congressman, and right-wing media personality Amy Tarkanian, a former state GOP party chair.

Tarkanian has also endorsed Democratic state Treasurer Zach Conine over Republican nominee Michele Fiore.

Tarkanian explains her cross-party endorsement of Conine on the obvious fact that the scandal-plagued Fiore should not be anywhere near the state’s finances. 

Similarly, Republicans for Ford cite the unfitness for office of Chattah, who among other things wants to see Ford “hanging from a f***ing crane.” Ford is Black. At least Chattah can rest assured she won’t be accused of being a “woke” RINO.

Roberson labeled Chattah a “charlatan,” a particularly charitable description given it applies to countless GOP officeholders and office seekers nationwide and at least, oh, four of them here in Nevada. (Now who’s being charitable?)

Ernaut and the rural officials endorsing Cortez Masto have avoided even mentioning her opponent by name – their disapproval of Laxalt is implied. That tactic has been most capably executed thus far by Ernaut, while bearing testament to the high regard in which he holds an altogether different Laxalt, Adam’s grandfather Paul. It’s a pretty brutal smack-down, really. 

While Republicans endorsing Cortez Masto won’t say Laxalt’s name, there is one thing they will say: “mining.”

A quick digression on mining… Arguably the most singular and notable achievement of Cortez Masto’s first term as a U.S. Senator, an achievement that is uniquely hers and hers alone, was killing legislation to make gold mines pay a federal royalty on minerals produced on federal lands. The coal and oil and gas industries have to pay one. But gold never has, not since the law regulating gold mining on federal lands was passed.

In 1872.

Cortez Masto even got her Democratic colleague Joe Manchin, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on which Cortez Masto serves, to schedule a hearing for the sole purpose of letting Cortez Masto publicly and with cameras rolling assure the industry that Nevada will remain a mining colony. Except Cortez Masto phrased it differently.

As it happened, Cortez Masto’s gallant defense of Nevada’s poor, put upon global mining conglomerates would turn out to be moot. After she got the federal mineral royalty removed from the bill, her kindred spirit Manchin killed the Build Back Better legislation altogether, which is where the mining provisions, among many far more important things, had been contained. The mining industry didn’t even need Cortez Masto’s protection. But she can rightly say they got it.

There will be more Republicans for Cortez Masto, and almost all of them will point to mining. Harry Reid would be so proud.

Meanwhile… will there be prominent Republicans for Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak? Evidently he’s already lost one Republican who supported him in 2018: Whatever Republicans endorse Sisolak, presumably Joe Lombardo won’t be doing it again.

And will there be Republicans endorsing the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor? The correct answer is “who cares?”. Seriously, who even knows who the nominees are for either party? (For the record the Democratic nominee is a generic candidate selected precisely and deliberately to be a generic candidate, and the Republican nominee is just another off-the-shelf election denier.) Nevada lieutenant governor is an impressively sounding title but not, alas, an actual job that anyone anywhere pays any attention to.

But of course everyone is awaiting the really big and truly important Republican endorsement of a Democrat, namely Cisco Aguilar, the Democrat running for secretary of state against internationally acclaimed threat to democracy Jim Marchant.

Roberson called Chattah a charlatan, but if he called Marchant a charlatan, Roberson would immediately have to apologize. To charlatans.

Marchant is an insidious and vile peddler of conspiracies, paranoia, and hysteria, much of it reflecting and reinforcing pernicious racist attitudes. Marchant plays footsie with QAnon. He says every election (including one he won once) has been rigged since 2008, as part of a global “cabal” (Marchant’s favorite word) orchestrated by George Soros and other satanic figures who are out to destroy civilization. His other pastimes include but are not limited to declaring that as secretary of state, if he disagrees with the decision of Nevada voters in the presidential election, he would reject the voters’ decision and send an alternate slate of electors to Congress. Nearly every time Marchant opens his mouth, it is to express contempt for every and any Nevadan – and their votes – unless they believe the filthy swill spilling out of his lying mouth.

When Republicans endorse Aguilar over Marchant, it hopefully won’t be by a mere statement. It should be orchestrated, en masse, and televised. Lombardo, Mark Amodei, Brian Sandoval, Roberson, Ernaut, Porter, Joe Heck, Dean Heller – hell, maybe even John Ensign – and any other notable Nevada Republican figures past and present who (unlike Michele Fiore or the the Republican guy running for lieutenant governor) are not full-on Trumpy conspiracy theorists, should all be there. 

So should current Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. It’s tempting to say Cegavske, who has been subjected to enough scorn and hate from her fellow Republicans already, has earned a pass and should be allowed to finish her term with as much peace and quiet as possible. 

But who better to detail the threat posed by a Marchant victory? Plus, it would give Lombardo, Amodei, Sandoval et al an opportunity to publicly thank Cegavske for putting Nevada and its people ahead of Trump and his.

Many Republicans who aren’t totally nuts would no doubt prefer to keep their traps shut and hope that Marchant’s candidacy collapses under the weight of his own bat guano. So why should we expect a loud and proud endorsement of Marchant from Nevada’s most prominent more or less sane Republicans?

Because if they fail to loudly and proudly denounce and condemn Marchant’s disgusting and perverse candidacy, they will be condoning it. They would be forever shamed, belittled, and dishonored by their cowardice. Just like Adam Laxalt, except they’re actually from here.

Oh, and by the way … whatever form the Republican endorsement of Aguilar, and however big it is, here’s a thing: Before long, after some mixing and matching and cross-referencing, and maybe with the help of a Venn diagram, Republican voters could find themselves encouraged, by fellow Republicans no less, to vote a straight Democratic ballot this year.

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson 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 author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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