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May 30, 2015

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Jon Ralston:

State GOP’s worst enemy: Republicans

Political parties, generally, are made up of two sorts of regulars: The half-crazy and the full-on nuts.

Anyone who has been to a central committee meeting knows this is indisputable. If you haven’t, rent “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and you’ll get the idea.

Usually, the parties manage to confine their lunacy to those monthly or quarterly gatherings, rarely allowing the inmates out in public. But this week, the Republican Party showed (again) why it is the greatest impediment to the 2012 success of …the Republican Party.

Like that off-premises excursion in “Cuckoo’s Nest,” the folks from the Clark County GOP decided to strut their stuff during a hearing on some innocuous election regulations that sparked an “action request” from the county party headlined, “Don’t risk having your voting rights eroded.”

And this: “If passed, these regulations will ensure that Obama will carry Nevada because of voter fraud.”

Forget that these were mere housekeeping regulations proposed by Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller’s office or that one issue — deleting an absentee ballot oath — had been erroneously listed in the initial notice. (Even if that had been so, would it have resulted in voter fraud or guaranteed the president’s victory here? I don’t think so.)

But even if you could excuse the hyperventilating before the meeting, the Monday hearing produced some of the sheerest lunacy we have seen in some time, once again raising the question of whether we have adequate mental health services in the state.

“Voting is a privilege, not a right,” one GOP official, Woody Stroupe, declared, apparently thinking the confab had been called on gaming licenses and not the most sacred right in a democracy. Stroupe, according to a Review-Journal report, also announced, “We might as well invite the Chinese over here. You can’t vote in your country, but you can vote in our state.”

Miller’s aides seemed puzzled, as would any sentient human being. And then it got worse.

Objections were raised to regulations that were not even being proposed. The dangers of hacking into the voting systems were bruited about. And, of course, symptoms of the longest hangover in GOP history surfaced as at least one partisan insisted the 2010 U.S. Senate race had been stolen from Sharron Angle by fraud. Hair of the Reid that bit you, anyone?

These are the same Mensans who argued to move Nevada from third in the nation to fifth in the presidential nominating process and who scuttled same-day registration because they feared Democrats infiltrating and helping push a lesser candidate to victory (which one would they choose, though?). They may not be the majority of GOP voters or even a majority who belong to the central committee, but they say and do things that allow the enemy to brandish a broad brush.

The performance was so outlandish that Miller’s office put out an extensive news release Tuesday to correct “erroneous” media reports and he added, “It was clear, however, that certain partisan factions saw an opportunity to use those issues as an opportunity for political grandstanding.”

Miller couldn’t be more … erroneous. That was no grandstanding, which involves some bloviating skills. This was R.P. McMurphy’s minions run amok, with no tether, no cover.

I don’t have any desire to defend Miller, who runs a professional shop and who Republicans seem to forget initiated a prosecution against ACORN, the Democratic Party-aligned folks, for voter fraud. Unlike these candidates for the rubber room, Miller knows voter fraud when he sees it — and does something about it.

Although it is sporting to mock these cretins, there is a serious side to it, too, which is the failure of GOP elected officials to denounce this kind of behavior and of the media to make sure it is put in context and reported accurately. Questioning the integrity of elections is no laughing matter and can have insidious effects. Angle continues to trundle around the country, winking and nodding at crowds (as she does in her book) that Harry Reid stole the election from her — an election she lost by 41,000 votes.

The key to the success of any political party these days is to hope for an effective figurehead (not essential), marginalize the crazies (otherwise they will run the asylum) and become a money-laundering operation to help candidates (a legal one, of course).

This is the model the Democrats have adopted and enabled them to sweep to power in 2008 and save Reid in 2010. The state GOP is far from there yet, still playing Single A against Reidball.

The Democrats have every reason, though, to be worried about 2012 from the presidential race here to Sen. Dean Heller’s seat to legislative control. But there’s a catch.

It may sound half-crazy or even full-on nuts, but the only thing that can save Nevada Democrats next year might be the Nevada Republican Party.

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