Trump flexes his dominance of Nevada GOP but cracks are forming in this crucial battleground

Trump flexes his dominance of Nevada GOP but cracks are forming in this crucial battleground
Trump flexes his dominance of Nevada GOP but cracks are forming in this crucial battleground

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details flexes his dominance of Nevada GOP but cracks are forming in this crucial battleground in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - LAS VEGAS — Varlin Higbee traveled more than two hours from his Lincoln County, Nevada, home to see Donald Trump in person last month, but when he arrived at the former president’s Las Vegas rally, he was stopped at the door.

Despite carrying a VIP invite from the Trump campaign, Higbee, the chair of his county commission, was barred from entrance by state party members for previously supporting one of the former president’s Republican primary rivals.

“They said, ‘Did you endorse (Florida Gov. Ron) DeSantis?’” Higbee told CNN. “And I said, ‘I sure did because of this sh*t right now.’”

To some longtime Nevada Republicans who witnessed Higbee get turned away or caught wind of it, the episode was illustrative of a state party that has crossed many lines in its allegiance to the former president. They warn it could alienate the kind of voters they’ll need to win this crucial general election battleground.

Trump narrowly lost Nevada in 2016 and 2020 by nearly identical narrow margins – about 2.5 percentage points. Going into the fall, it’s expected to be hotly contested once again in what is likely to be a rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden.

“It’s become more about personalities than it has about winning,” said TK Crabb, the former political director of the Clark County Republican Party and a strategist for candidates. Crabb, a critic of the state party’s current leadership, was also initially barred from the Vegas rally but was eventually allowed in with the help of a friend.

“These people don’t understand the strategy of how to win in a general,” she said, adding that she doesn’t intend to vote for Trump.

Trump’s supremacy over the Nevada Republican Party was on full display this week. Trump won the state’s caucuses and all of its delegates on Thursday night, running essentially unopposed. His remaining opponent in the race, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, instead opted to participate in the state-run Republican primary, held two days prior – a confusing arrangement orchestrated by Trump loyalists in the state GOP.

Haley said Trump “rigged” the state’s nominating contest after she came in a distant second place in the primary to “none of these candidates.” Trump allies, including the state’s Republican Gov. Joe Lambardo, who endorsed the former president last month, had pushed for this move.

“We always knew Nevada was a scam,” Haley said when asked about the results. Her campaign stressed that she didn’t spend any time or money campaigning in the state. Before he exited the race, DeSantis and his allies similarly warned that Nevada Republicans had stacked the deck there in Trump’s favor.

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald did not respond to a call and text message seeking comment. But McDonald has not made his loyalty to Trump a secret.

“We will deliver 100% of delegates of the state of Nevada to Donald J. Trump,” McDonald said at Trump’s Las Vegas rally.

The format for awarding Nevada’s delegates is far from the only controversy involving McDonald and other Nevada party officials. McDonald and Clark County Chairman Jesse Law are among the six so-called “fake electors” indicted over their alleged involvement in a scheme to overturn the 2020 presidential election for Trump. The six have pleaded not guilty to felony charges brought against them by Nevada’s attorney general in December.

The refusal by these leading Republicans to accept the results of the 2020 election – and the expectation that the candidates they nominate will not as well – has already factored into several statewide races.

In one high-profile example, Republican Senate candidate Adam Laxalt echoed many of their debunked arguments about voter fraud and was hammered for it on the airwaves in the final weeks before the 2022 midterm election. Laxalt narrowly lost to incumbent US Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, widely seen as the most vulnerable Democrat up for election that year. His defeat cost the GOP a seat critical to the party’s efforts to flip the upper chamber in their favor.

“It’s almost like they don’t want to win,” said Amy Tarkanian, a former Republican state party chair. “They’d rather have a party full of purists.”

The concerns come as some indicators suggest there are favorable conditions for Trump and Republicans this cycle. Hiring in Nevada’s tourism-reliant economy has not rebounded to its pre-pandemic levels like it has elsewhere. Nevada ended 2023 with the highest unemployment rate of all 50 states at 5.4%.

“The Nevada economy is always lagging behind the rest of the country,” Jeremy Hughes, a Republican strategist who has worked extensively in the Silver State. “Trump is the favorite in Nevada. The polling shows it. I’d rather be him than Biden.”

Hughes contended most voters aren’t paying attention to what’s happening with the state GOP and many Republicans there are likely supportive of its MAGA makeover. He said Nevada Republicans should also be encouraged by the state GOP closing the gap in registered voters. In 2020, registered Democrats outnumbered Republicans by about 4.7 percentage points, but the most recent tally put the difference at just under 2 percentage points.

“With that alone, Trump’s margin of defeat in 2020 has just been erased,” Hughes said.

Tarkanian, though, pointed out that the fastest growing group of voters is not Democrats and Republicans but people who registered “non-partisan,” which has ballooned in the years since the state adopted automatic voter registration. In 2020, one in four voters registered as non-partisans; now, it’s nearly one in three.

This year, Nevada voters will also consider a referendum on whether to strengthen abortion access in the state constitution. Abortion access has loomed large in several statewide contests there in recent cycles, to Democrats’ advantage.

Given those headwinds, Tarkanian said the state party can’t afford to alienate fellow Republicans.

“You’re going to need independents and soft Democrats to win, and you’re removing Republicans from your events?” she said.

As for Higbee, he said he intends to vote for Trump, but he said he thinks the Nevada GOP is poorly serving the former president.

“When you ostracize 60% of your republican voters because you call them ‘RINOs’ and ‘Never Trumpers,’ they’re not going to vote,” he said. “If anybody is to blame for that, it’s Mr. McDonald.” — CNN

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