Las Vegas Sun

December 12, 2017

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Tea Partyers to host GOP debates for House special election

The election to fill the vacant House seat in Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District is set to be a free-for-all, and two Tea Party activists are trying to bring a little clarity to the Republican side.

Jeri Taylor-Swade and Laurel Fee, the force behind Nevada’s forthcoming conservative news publication T.R.U.N.C., will announce this week that they will host debates in three locations around CD2 for “serious Republican candidates” in late June, at least one of which will be televised live.

The first, to be held in Pahrump on June 23, will be televised live on Pahrump’s KPVM television station. The second will be in Elko on June 24, the third in Sparks on June 25; broadcast details have yet to be finalized about the latter two.

“The whole reason why we’re doing this is because T.R.U.N.C. believes we need to give people a chance to make an educated decision on their vote,” Taylor-Swade said. “And the only way to make an educated decision on their vote is to hear from the candidates. We want to give the people a chance to know who they’re voting for.”

T.R.U.N.C. stands for Tea Partyers & Republicans Uniting Nevada Conservatives; and in a way, that’s just what Taylor-Swade and Fee are trying to do through these debates: help the party define a candidate, without the aid of a party process.

“There’s going to be no primary in the special election,” Fee said, “so we move from area to area in CD2 where the residents will be voting.”

“We just want to host a debate for serious candidates that have a chance at actually making a difference, and getting votes,” Taylor-Swade added.

The special election is a general election only; there are no preliminary rounds in which to select a candidate.

That format was initially expected to favor Democrats, as there are several strong Republican candidates in the field, including: state Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno; Kirk Lippold, former commander of the USS Cole; Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki; Nevada GOP Chairman Mark Amodei; and of course, the Tea Party’s local favorite, Sharron Angle — who showed she’s got quite a knack for winning Republican primaries last cycle.

But then Democrats started fielding a few extra candidates. Now it’s not clear who has the advantage, and the key challenge for both sides appears the same: to unofficially corral party voters around the candidate with the most promise, and hope the other side’s votes get split across too many candidates to make a difference.

Although general elections usually inspire general debates, Taylor-Swade and Fee don’t have to bother with such formalities: They are self-declared Tea Party conservatives, and though they’re taking care not to pick and choose among Republican candidates, their intention is to promote Nevada conservatives. If they can buy the TV time, they can put on the show.

They’ll get help from WesternPAC, whose chairman is the Tea Party’s other lost best hope from 2010, Joe Miller. He beat incumbent Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary, but then lost to her running as an Independent in the general election. Taylor-Swade and Fee said they didn’t yet have cost estimates for staging and broadcasting three debates, nor have they finalized a guest list; they’re waiting first to see what the field fully yields.

Candidates have to declare their intentions and file paperwork to participate in the special general election by May 25.

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