Las Vegas Sun

January 18, 2018

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Gov. Sandoval takes GOP chairman loss in stride

Gov. Brian Sandoval indicated today he's not too worried by the fact the Nevada Republican Party snubbed his choice for party chairman in a highly contested election Saturday.

Sandoval's favored candidate, longtime GOP operative and Las Vegas Sands lobbyist Robert Uithoven, lost to incumbent chairman Michael McDonald, who has presided over a troubled period for the state party. Sandoval, Sen. Dean Heller and a cadre of Republican lawmakers had backed Uithoven as the candidate who could rebuild the party's credibility with the national party and with donors.

"I'm not going to say it's going to be bad for the Republican Party," Sandoval said of the election results. "It is what it is. We're just going to move forward. I am going to be focused on my personal re-election efforts as well as legislators' (campaigns)."

Asked if that means he's writing off the party, Sandoval scoffed.

"I love your conclusory questions," said the former federal judge. "So based on that, I'm writing off the party? No."

Sandoval acknowledged, however, that the party has a long catch-up game to play if it wants to compete with the Democrats, who have a better funded, better organized state party backing its candidates.

"I know the numbers are daunting," Sandoval said. "Everyone knows. It's no secret. The Republicans need to work harder to get more folks registered and will continue to do so. There are a lot of efforts that are out there and that is something that folks will work on between now and the election."

Democrats have consistently registered more voters than Republicans over the past three election cycles. Statewide, Democrats have 96,000 more registered voters than Republicans.

Sandoval said he has not called McDonald since his victory Saturday afternoon.

Sandoval spoke to reporters after a press conference to tout his economic development efforts. The Northern Nevada Development Authority, which uses tax incentives to lure businesses to five rural counties in Nevada, announced it has generated $1 billion in economic impact over the past three years.

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