For the last year, Nevada Democrats have been warring with each other over the past and future of their party.
Senator Harry Reid, the state’s most successful politician, built a Democratic machine in the late 1990s and early 21st century that dominated local and national races up and down the ballot. But the machine suffered some setbacks in 2018 and 2020, leaving an opening for radicals to take control.
The Democratic Socialists of America took over the party, and the Harry Reid faction didn’t much like it. They’ve been at war ever since.
The Washoe County Democrats declared their independence from the socialists in June and vowed to chart their own path. This caused a backlash from the socialist state party chairperson, Judith Whitmer, who called the move an “insurrection,” as well as “ill-advised and undemocratic.”
Several elected Democrats in Nevada who bill themselves as moderates, including Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and Governor Steve Sisolak, nonetheless stated their support for the move, likely realizing that association with progressive policies could threaten their own reelection hopes next year, just as it damaged or destroyed reelection bids for many incumbent Democrats in the U.S. House in 2020.
Outside of Las Vegas and its powerful culinary union, Nevada is a fairly conservative state. But with 70 percent of the state’s vote in Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, the more moderate and conservative elements in the state get short shrift.
That is a worrisome development for the national party.
A war between former Senate Majority Leader HARRY REID’s political machine and the pro-BERNIE SANDERS forces who’ve taken over the state party — spurring “a flurry of resignations, embarrassing headlines and the creation of a fully operating shadow party” — is dividing Democrats in the swing state on the eve of the midterm elections, reports Holly Otterbein.
One major effect: “The clash in Nevada has also left the coordinated campaign for top Democrats in the state without precious voter data, robbing Sen. CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO and Gov. STEVE SISOLAK of a key asset before they both face reelection next year.”
Reminder: JOE BIDEN carried Nevada by just 2 points in 2020, and Dems cannot afford to lose Cortez Masto’s seat if they want to retain their Senate majority.
The Republicans have a very strong candidate to challenge Masto. Adam Laxalt, the grandson of Nevada’s legendary GOP Senator, Paul Laxalt, is a former attorney general of the state and is challenging Masto on her connection to the Democratic Party in Washington.
Masto is hardly a flaming socialist, but it’s easy to portray her as far left when the party apparatus is staffed entirely by socialists.
Since launching his campaign with a good-versus-evil, “Star Wars”-themed ad titled “The Good Guys,” Laxalt has railed against Democrats and an unholy trinity he says is working in parallel to “radically transform” the United States — the media, Hollywood and Big Tech.
The high stakes messaging mirrors early campaigns in rust belt battlegrounds like Ohio,Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and hints at a national Republican strategy focused on drawing stark contrasts with Democrats on cultural issues.
“Right now it seems like the wrong side is winning. The radical left, rich elites, woke corporations, academia, Hollywood and the media — they’re taking over America,” Laxalt says in his campaign ad, in which video of his children playing with light sabers is spliced with footage of protesters setting flames and destroying property.
Glenn Youngkin won in Virginia by inspiring rural voters to go to the polls and overcome the Democrat’s advantage in the northern part of the state and DC suburbs. Might history repeat itself? Could Laxalt defeat Masto by tapping into the rural conservative vote that’s always been there in Nevada?
It sounds like a winning strategy.