Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2019

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Nevada Republicans light fuse to self-destruction

If I didn’t know better, I’d think there was a Democratic Party plot afoot.

Is Prince Harry really this Machiavellian? Could the left wing really manipulate what the right wing is doing? Is there a mole at the top of the Nevada Republican Party?

How else can the ascension of one Michael J. McDonald to the chairmanship of the state GOP be explained? Where’s Allen Funt? Or Ashton Kutcher?

The Republicans, pounded by Democrats in critical races the last two cycles, have a reasonable chance to win the state for Mitt Romney, hold onto John Ensign’s Senate seat and take over the Legislature’s upper house. And the glue holding that all together — the man charged with raising money, attacking Democrats and articulating GOP principles — is a Laughlin constable and former strip club lobbyist found guilty of ethics transgressions by two tribunals and whose odiferous city land deal has revolted everyone (except the folks at Roundheels Central on Stewart Avenue), including a conservative think tank on Tuesday.

Come on, folks. This must be a joke.

No one can possibly benefit from McDonald’s elevation to this prominent post except Democrats and the Fourth Estate — Team Romney stayed clear of the balloting last weekend, and so did the GOP elected elite — and that is why my suspicions are aroused that the new chairman is either part of an elaborate and hilarious comedy show or a plant from the opposition. (I wonder if any of the GOP elected officials will talk to him without asking if he is wearing a wire. He’s done it before.)

Maybe state Sen. Michael Roberson was joking when he wrote an endorsement blurb for McDonald, saying, “Michael may also be the only person who can truly unite the differing factions within the state Central Committee.”

Unite the Central Committee factions! That is high-quality stand-up comedy stuff, senator.

Who cares if he can bring together the few hundred folks on the party central committee? They have nothing to do with whether Romney will take Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller can defeat Rep. Shelley Berkley or Roberson can become majority leader.

You know what might make a difference? A chairman who could raise money and be a forceful spokesman for the party.

McDonald can do neither. He risibly claimed that he raised millions as a city councilman to burnish his bona fides. So what?

Sheldon Adelson may give $21.5 million to help his friend, Newt Gingrich. But do you think Gondolier Numero Uno is going to trust the ethically challenged McDonald with his money?


As for being an articulate spokesman for the cause, McDonald, shortly before he became chairman last weekend, said during a podcast that “there is a good argument” for a red-light district in downtown Las Vegas. He also would not commit on “Face to Face” to backing the governor’s position, as Roberson does, for extending expiring taxes, accusing the titular head of the party of not communicating well why he took that position.

Come on, Mr. Chairman. Take off your mask. Is that really a Harry Reid staffer?

I want all of you — especially Gov. Sandoval, Sen. Heller and Rep. Joe Heck — to imagine it is October. CNN is here. Fox and MSNBC, too. You turn on your TV to hear, “Joining us now, the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party, Michael McDonald.”

Do you:

A. Pray

B. Hold your breath

C. Both

As the Nevada Policy Research Institute said in a screed Tuesday: “You just can’t make this stuff up.” The conservative think tank was referring to McDonald’s latest juice job at City Hall, with NPRI correctly pointing out that McDonald has a pattern of questionable conduct. Indeed, McDonald almost was thrown out of office 11 years ago after the state Ethics Commission found “his loyalty to his employer motivated him to assist (his private sector boss) in attempting to overcome a difficult financial situation by using access to staff and other members of the City Council (which an ordinary member of the public would not have) and lobbying them to take action which would benefit (his boss) and, therefore, himself. ... There was absolutely no evidence that the action Councilman McDonald was advocating ... was a good economic deal for the City of Las Vegas and in the public’s interest.”

Some things don’t change. The ex-councilman’s history neuters him when it comes to assailing Democrats on anything. McDonald is not just a flawed messenger; he is a fatally flawed messenger.

Maybe Michael McDonald is right in arguing that no one will pay any attention to him, that he will unify the party and that he will lead the GOP to smashing victories in November. Or maybe, as Michael McDonald also once said, that’s what a fool believes.

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