Republicans hold a majority in the Nevada Assembly 25-17 and in the Senate 11-10. GOP swept the state in 2014, in what many call the “Red Wave”, giving them the majority for the first time in decades.
The fight to maintain the majority is shaping up but there is a notable divide and battle within the party, not only in Nevada but across the country. The tide is turning, and this election cycle, it is the establishment Republicans that find themselves facing strong opposition among an angry electorate.
Nevada Assemblyman and majority leader Paul Anderson is leading the charge to defend those establishment incumbents who face primary challengers because of their pro-tax voting records. Raising taxes is in direct conflict with the voters who voted overwhelmingly against increasing taxes on the 2014 ballot.
Nationally, the Trump movement is taking hold and seems to be unstoppable at this point. The establishment worked hard against Trump in Nevada to no avail. Trump won the state’s caucus in February easily. The establishment officials endorsed Jeb Bush who spent millions, only to be rejected by voters. More money doesn’t appear to be the key to winning this go around. The conservative officials endorsed Cruz, but in Nevada, the voters chose Trump.
The battle for control is not the usual partisan fight between Democrats and Republicans. This year Republicans are battling each other for a controlling interest in the legislature, much like the Trump phenomenon happening all across the country.
Several of the current elected Republicans ran campaigns promising they would oppose raising taxes but broke those promises once elected, and voted to pass the largest tax hike in the state’s history. The Commerce Tax found support from all Democrats and establishment Republicans.
In 2014, the voters defeated two ballot initiatives to raise taxes by a wide margin with nearly 80% statewide voting against tax increases. Question 3 was packaged as the “Education Initiative”, even for education, the voters sent a clear message that they were opposed to any increases.
Nevada’s school system ranks dead last among the 50 states in education achievement. The ranking is not new for Nevada. The state has long suffered as one of the worst in education outcomes. Past tax increases for more education dollars have had no impact or results on improvement.
Rather than increasing taxes for education, voters are calling for an audit of the Clark County School District, the largest school district in the state.
Pro-tax establishment Republicans are facing credible opposition in the primary. Candidate filing took place March 7-18 with no shortage of anti-tax candidates. All incumbents who voted for the 1.4-billion-dollar tax package are facing primaries.
Races to watch:
Senate District 6 Republican Primary Candidates Victoria Seaman and Erv Nelson
Pro-tax Assemblyman Erv Nelson faces Anti-Tax Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman. Nelson ran a no new taxes campaign in 2014 in assembly district 5 and won. After he was elected he reversed his position and voted for the $1.4 billion tax increase. The chances of Nelson holding the seat after betraying his supporters would have been a long shot. Instead, he chose to move into another district, seeking election in Senate district 6. He has the support of the Republican establishment senate caucus. Escaping his track record of misrepresenting his core positions, particularly on raising taxes, won’t be easy, even in a new district.
Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman had announced her intent to seek the senate seat last year. Seaman campaigned against raising taxes in 2014 and kept her word to her constituents refusing to support the $1.4 billion hike.
Assembly District 22 Republican Primary Candidates: Richard Bunce, Keith Pickard, Grant James Butak
Richard Bunce will run in district 22 to fill the vacancy created by retiring Lynn Stewart. Bunce has name recognition and the money to compete against the establishment-backed Keith Pickard. A third candidate, Grant James Butak is also running.
Assembly District 19 Republican Primary Candidates: Connie Foust and Chris Edwards
Connie Foust will primary Chris Edwards. Edwards turned on conservatives and sided with the establishment wing on leadership positions in 2015 and is most known for wearing a wire while meeting with caucus members. It is unclear if the establishment will return the favor and support Edwards. The last C&E filings suggest that if they are, it’s not with donations, Edwards loaned his campaign $24, 000.
Assembly District 36 Republican Primary Candidates: Tina Trenner, Rusty Stanberry, James Oscarson
District 36 includes Pahrump where the biggest majority of votes will decide the primary winner. James Oscarson is facing two primary opponents. Tina Trenner, who is backed by the Nye County Republican Party, and Rusty Stanberry. Oscarson was censored and excommunicated by the party when he violated his promise to vote against the $1.4 billion in new taxes.
The establishment is backing Oscarson, as are the casinos, MGM, The Orleans, Boyd Gaming, Boulder Station to name a few. The Commerce Tax was carefully crafted to benefit big casinos at the expense of small business owners in Nevada, which explains their generosity in donating to Oscarson. Majority Leader, Paul Anderson, has also donated to Oscarson. The “New Nevada PAC” who has a history of donating to the good ole boy establishment wing of the Republican party is also supplying funding.
Stanberry is relatively unknown in Pahrump but Tina Trenner, a longtime political activist is well versed on the issues and well known in the community.
Assembly District 35 Republican Primary Candidates: Brent Jones, Tiffany Jones, Tom Blanchard
District 35 is currently represented by Assemblyman Brent Jones. Jones is popular within his district and will be hard to beat. Jones has been noted as one of the top conservatives to watch in 2016. He stood firm on his campaign promises of no new taxes and is recognized and has gained wide support for his efforts to repeal Common Core around the state. Jones also created the Contract with Nevada, made up of 10 common sense issues that over 75% of Nevadans support. He has organized efforts to support candidates that stand on the party platform of smaller government, less regulation and lower taxes.
The establishment has made public statements announcing they will try to defeat Jones. Assemblyman Paul Anderson, who leads the establishment cartel, is supporting Tiffany Jones, a newcomer to Nevada Politics. Anderson has stated his Growth & Opportunity PAC will fund her efforts. Anderson hasn’t been shy about insulting Brent Jones with a slew of nasty comments to news reporters. Jones’ cardinal sin seems to be his ability to organize, keep his promises to voters, and he rejected the $1.4 billion tax hike. Jones has made it clear he supports State Controller, Ron Knecht’s, ballot initiative to repeal the Commerce Tax.
Jones endorsed Donald Trump, another sticking point with Paul Anderson who endorsed Jeb Bush. Bush, withdrew early for lack of support after spending millions.
Tom Blanchard who was rejected by the voters in 2012 has again thrown his hat into the ring as did a couple of other candidates. This race will be a 5-way primary.
Assembly District 9 Republican Primary Candidates: Diana Orrock, David Gardner
David Gardner won the election in 2014 as part of the “Red Wave” He did zero campaigning and raised zero dollars. He merely put his name on the ballot and paid the one-hundred-dollar filing fee. Despite his luck in 2014 with a surprise win, the voters have no idea who he is. As an elected official he joined the establishment and voted for the $1.4 billion in new taxes. A vote that went against over 79% of his constituents.
His primary opponent, Nevada Republican National Committeewoman, Diana Orrock, has far better name recognition in the community. Orrock has been a strong conservative voice in party politics. She outraised Gardner who is supported and funded by the establishment arm of the Republican party.
Minddie Lloyd, a third candidate for district 9 has again filed to run. She also attempted to run in 2014 but withdrew her name. Lloyd, the least likely to be successful, has been labeled the spoiler in the race. It is unclear if Lloyd will remain in the race this go around. If she changes her mind again, she has until March 30 to withdraw her name.
By Guardian Liberty Voice News Team