Friday, June 3, 2011


In the 145 years since statehood Nevada has never had to hold a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat.  Small wonder that there was some confusion when Governor Sandoval created a vacancy by naming Congressman Dean Heller to fill the unexpired term of Senator Ensign.  The governor set September 13, 2011 for the special election to determine Heller's successor.

Nevada law is somewhat ambiguous about how Republican and Democrat candidates should be selected in this our first ever special congressional election.  Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller decreed that anyone can run for the open seat but the Nevada GOP sued on the basis that if there is no primary election then each party's central committee should select the candidate to represent that party.  Last week a judge ruled in favor of the GOP so a meeting of the Nevada State Republican Central Committee has been called to select the party's candidate from among those who aspire to the position.

One dissident wrote, "The Nevada Republican Party wants its attorneys to make sure that a small handful of their lackeys can chose who the Republican nominee will be, not the voters".

Lackeys??  The practice of political parties nominating their candidates for public office at party conventions or caucuses has its roots in the beginnings of our nation.  In Nevada, as in most states, there is a detailed process by which Republican and Democratic central committee member are chosen.  In the spring of each election year political parties hold precinct meetings in which friends and neighbors in given geographic areas meet to democratically elect representatives to the county central committee as well as delegates to the county party convention.

Then, at the first quarterly meeting of the county party, officers are democratically elected and form an executive board to run the party's month-in and month-out affairs.  At the time prescribed by Nevada law, both political parties hold their biennial conventions to debate and adopt party principles (called a "platform") and elect delegates to their state party convention.  At state party conventions statewide officers are elected and a statewide platform is debated and adopted.  In presidential election years delegates to the parties' national conventions may be elected.

Note that at all levels of participation only those who willingly volunteer are chosen.  Note that they are chosen democratically by secret ballot.  No one gets paid a penny for participating nor are any expenses of participation reimbursed.  It is estimated that central committee membership costs about $500 per year in expenses and requires 60 hours of time.

No...central committee members are not lackeys.  They are principled, informed, and motivated volunteers who tirelessly for what they believe in.

Will voters truly decide if the special congressional election were opened to all comers? Since Nevada has never held such a special election we have to look to our neighbor to the west foropen to all comers.  58 Democrats, 47 Republicans, 41 Independents, 3 Libertarians, 2 Natural Law candidates, and 1 Peace and Freedom candidate filed to run for governor of California.  Included were movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, conservative State Senator Tom McClintock, pundit Arianna Huffington, a child TV star, and a porn queen among others.  The top vote getter was Schwarzenegger with 48% followed by Bustamante with 31% and McClintock with 13%.  On one else received any significant vote.  Six candidates polled one vote each.

Ask yourselves whether Nevada wants a true contested partisan election or a joke such as occurred in California.  Do we want an election where a person with no experience in public office but lots of money and name recognition wins?  Will a plurality of those voting cause a candidate to be responsive to constituents?

There will be over 350 Nevada Republican Party Central Committee members meeting in Sparks on June 18 to select the GOP candidate for Congress in the upcoming special election.  All will have paid for their own expense, meals, lodging, and any other costs; and will be there because they want what everyone in this room wants...a fiscally responsible government in Washington.  They will hear the aspiring candidates debate and then select a winner by secret ballot.

That is what Nevada law provides for and that is how we will select the next Republican to represent Nevada in Congress.


NRS 304.240  Issuance by Governor of election proclamation precludes holding of primary election; nomination of candidates; placement of names of candidates on ballot; conduct of election; application of general election laws; exception.

NRS 293.165  Procedure for filling vacancy in major or minor political party nomination or nonpartisan nomination.

Co-authored by Ralph McMullen, Chairman of the Washoe County Republican Party, and Jim Clark, President of Republican Advocates in Incline Village and vice chair of the Washoe Republican Party.  Both are members of the Nevada GOP Central Committee.

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