Las Vegas Sun

February 27, 2024

RNC, Romney campaign will erect new organization to bypass state GOP

Michael McDonald

Christopher DeVargas

Michael McDonald, Feb 28, 2012.

UPDATE: Late yesterday, GOP Chairman Michael McDonald, trying to slow down any move to make the party irrelevant, worked with the RNC and released a statement designed to undercut the Clark County party's call for Reince Priebus' resignation and indicate to DC that he is willing to play ball:

“The Chairman of the Republican National Committee Reince Priebus has the authority to take the necessary steps to support a candidate to ensure Republicans win the presidency in November. RNC Rule 11 applies to the RNC’s ability to make endorsements and spend resources in state races and may have been misinterpreted by some in Nevada in its application to the presidential election. Ron Paul's campaign released a statement on May 5 providing Chairman Priebus and the RNC their "full consent" to move forward with setting up Victory organizations. Certainly we do not need to wait for Tampa before assisting our presumptive nominee. I look forward to working with Chairman Priebus and Republicans across the state of Nevada as we build a top-notch ground game to beat Barack Obama and elect Mitt Romney to the White House.”

In concert, Sean Spicer, the communications director of the RNC, told me: "The RNC continues to work with the state party."

To some extent this merely heads off the inevitable because nobody here on the ground -- from the RNC, from the Romney campaign, from the Dean Heller campaign, from the Joe Heck campaign -- is likely to trust the party with any real money. But can McDonald slow down the move to erect the outside entity for a bit -- at least before something else goofy happens out here? Perhaps. After all, if he can persuade the City Council to give him $4 million for a project even though he's not a developer, maybe he can sell the DC and Boston folks that he really can run a viable state party.

Fed up with an inept and self-destructive GOP apparatus in Nevada, the Republican National Committee and the Mitt Romney campaign have decided to erect a “shadow state party” in this critical swing state, sources confirmed today.

“They are still bogged down in the minutiae of whether Romney will be the presumptive nominee,” scoffed a GOP strategist familiar with the details of the restructuring. “We don’t have time for that when the Obama campaign already is in full campaign mode. We have no use for them (the state GOP).”

The lack of faith in the Republican Party here intensified with the botched February caucus, metastasized after the Ron Paul takeover in Sparks and reached its zenith with Tuesday evening’s call for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus to resign by a divided Clark County GOP

Priebus was described to me as “disappointed with the censuring,” which probably means his blood pressure went high enough to give an elephant a stroke. So Priebus, in concert with the Romney folks here, have decided to turn the so-called Team Nevada office on Tropicana into the de facto Republican Party.

“The goal is for us to be running get out the vote, running phone programs, voter ID, voter contact, everything through the Team Nevada headquarters,” the strategist told me. That is, everything the party is supposed to do, except the GOP here can’t raise money and has the inmates running the asylum.

He continued: “The RNC has said it is willing to do everything possible as the state party appears not to be willing to work with us, so we will do it without them.”

The plan would be to transfer money directly to Team Nevada and/or funnel some through the Washoe Republican Party, run by the respected Dave Buell, who is well-liked by the RNC and Romney folks.

To distill, the GOP insider said, “Essentially we’re setting up a shadow state party.”

And it will surely cast a long shadow over a state GOP that is trying to oust its executive director, David Gallagher, a political pro, while other staff departures seem likely as the Paul folks complete their coup. Even soon-to-be-former RNC Committeeman Bob List called the state GOP “dysfunctional” during an appearance today on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” although the former governor also blamed the Romney campaign for resting on its caucus win laurels and allowing the Paul revolution to occur.

But List is likely not to factor into these plans, which will feature full integration, as is occurring nationally, between the RNC and Romney. It's also likely that after the June 12 primary clears the filed, the Rep. Joe Heck and Sen. Dean Heller campaigns will get on board.

This move has been inevitable and essential for some time for the RNC and Team Romney to combat a formidable Democratic machine. They won’t be able to do everything the Democrats can do, but separating themselves from the imploding and embarrassing party structure is a good first step.

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