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Fork the GOP: Easy Street vs. Rocky Road

Former Clark County GOP Chairman Dave Gibbs has written a letter to members of the Clark County Republican Central Committee urging a vote to oust incumbent Chairman Cindy Lake – who was elected to replace Gibbs after he resigned mid-term last year to go work for the Romney campaign at Team Nevada – at this Wednesday night’s election.

It’s a thoughtful piece with many legitimate points…unlike the drivel-and-rant emails we’ve been subjected to lately by the “Y’All Queen,” Cathie Lynn Profant-Gisi-Johnson-Martinez-Boudreau…so I’ve posted it here on Nevada News & Views even though I disagree on some key points.

Where we agree, however, is that this election really should be about the direction the Clark County GOP goes from here. Challenger Dave McKeon’s “sleazy” past that he hid from everybody for the last six months, while relevant, is an unfortunate side show.

So let’s focus on where former County GOP Chairman Gibbs and former County GOP Chairman Muth agree; that what we should be talking about is the direction the party should take, not the relative short-comings of the two candidates who, like Chairman Gibbs and I, were foolish enough to seek this thankless, unpaid office in the first place.

As you may recall, a couple years ago Dave and I debated the merits of the Central Committee adopting a pre-primary endorsement policy…similar to the pre-primary endorsement policy embraced by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, but where the endorsements are made by, you know, the elected members of the party’s Central Committee rather than by high-priced political consultants in the proverbial smoke-filled back rooms.

In that debate, Dave made strong arguments against the party taking such a pro-active leadership role in the nominating process, whereas I’ve been arguing in favor of it for almost 20 years. But Dave’s side won the vote.

But a new proposal for pre-primary endorsements will be debated and voted upon in the fall, and incumbent Chairman Cindy Lake is in favor of it, while her challenger Dave McKeon is opposed. This is a clear contrast related to the direction the party will go in the upcoming election cycle.

But that issue isn’t at the heart of Mr. Gibbs’ letter and arguments for ousting Lake.

Instead, the former Chairman makes the absolutely valid argument that political victories are won by addition, not subtraction. And he points to two important numbers, 11 and 22. Those are the numbers of Republicans needed to be elected to the state senate and assembly respectively to attain a GOP majority of both houses.

And majorities get to lead.

So Mr. Gibbs’ point is valid. However…

The point raised by the Lake side of the party, which is equally valid, is that just having the majority isn’t much of a victory if the Republican majority leads us in the same direction as the Democrat majority!

Indeed, how is it better to have Republican Senate Leader Mike Roberson and Republican Assembly Leader Pat Hickey leading the Legislature in voting for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $620 million extension of the “temporary” tax hikes rather than Democrat Senate Leader Mo Dennis and Democrat Assembly Speaker Marilyn Kirkpatrick?

And how is it better to have Republicans leading the charge to single out one industry with a new $600 million tax hike on mining than to have the Democrats doing it?

And how is it better to have Republicans leading the charge to give non-citizens drivers licenses rather than Democrats?

And how is it better to have Republicans leading efforts to dump more money into our failed public schools than Democrats?

And how is it better to have Republicans kill a much-needed “parent trigger” education reform bill than having Democrats kill it?

And how is it better to have Republicans proposing to grow government and increase spending…just not quite as much as the Democrats?

You see, the thing establishment Republicans are missing here is that a lot of us believe it’s not just enough to elect more Republicans; we need to elect BETTER ones, as well.

Seriously, I understand the point Chairman Gibbs made that the party should be issuing resolutions criticizing the actions of Democrats rather than Republicans. But two counter-points:

1.) How can Republicans, with a straight face, criticize Democrats for raising taxes and increasing government spending when Republican legislators are voting right along with them to raise taxes and increase spending? Wouldn’t that be hypocritical?

2.) Republican activists at the grassroots level – who work hard to draft a party platform every two years – expect Democrats to raise taxes and increase spending. That’s just what Democrats do. Shouldn’t we expect better from Republicans?

Well before McKeon’s dirty laundry came tumbling out of the closet, these areas of concern are what caused me to oppose the direction he wants the party to go. I want the elected Central Committee members – who do the grunt work, with no pay or public approbation – to have a significant, leadership role in selecting the party’s nominees. McKeon doesn’t.

That’s not to say there’s no seat at the table for liberal tax-and-spend Republicans like Assemblyman Lynn “Bug Man”Stewart in the GOP tent; only that the Stewarts of the party shouldn’t be seated at the HEAD of the table. Indeed, their proper place in the big tent is at the kiddie table with former Ass. Mark SureWould.

And for those who are making the argument that conservatives shouldn’t be challenging RINO Gumby incumbents like Stewart and Roberson in primaries, I have two words and one year for you:

Ronald Reagan, 1976.

Case closed.

I also want the party to hold elected Republicans’ feet to the fire when said elected officials wander too far off the reservation. If the Central Committee adopts a platform that says “We oppose raising taxes” and a GOP legislator votes to raise taxes…then it’s absolutely appropriate for the Central Committee to take said legislator to the woodshed.

Indeed, I’d argue it’s their obligation. As any parent will tell you, if you let your child continuously get away with telling little white lies and stealing pennies, sooner or later they’re gonna graduate to even bigger and far worse transgressions.

For far too long the see-no-evil attitude in the GOP here has been “My Republican, right or wrong.” Well, under Chairman Lake those days came to an end. Republicans in Carson City and elsewhere are no longer getting away with the political murder of various planks in the party’s platform.

They are being held accountable…and they hate it.

Just like how the convenience store thief hates getting caught by the cops.

So what we have here is a serious difference of opinion as to the proper role of the Central Committee.

My position is that the Central Committee should serve as the chief enforcement arm of the party, and where called for, the lead prosecutor.

The other side’s position is that of chief enabler of bad political behavior by serving as the public defender of wayward Republicans.

So forget for a minute all the negative information that’s come out about McKeon’s personal and financial past. Yes, that information and supporting documents will be wrapped around the necks of every GOP candidate next year like a cobra if he’s elected. But aside from that, here’s the choice his candidacy against Lake provides…

Does the Central Committee return to institutional irrelevance; where elected moderates like Gov. Sandoval and Gov. Guinn before him; or Senate Leader Mike Roberson and Senate Leader Bill Raggio before him: or Assembly Leader Pat Hickey and Assembly Leaders Pete Goicoechea, Heidi Gansert and Garn Mabey before him, call the shots, pick the nominees and lead the party to higher taxes and bigger government (just maybe not as high and big as the Democrats would)…

Or do we continue down the rocky, contentious road of principle chaotically ushered in by the election of Chairman Lake a year ago?

Sure, the easy way is to return to go-along-to-get-along. Indeed, that’s the road our elected Republican officials have taken in Carson City for the last thirty years or so.

On that yellow brick road, everybody loves everybody. And even though Central Committee members have no real say whatsoever in the policy direction of the party, every two years they are invited to work their arses off for free and maybe, if they’re lucky, get their tummies rubbed on Election Night.

The much more difficult path, on the other hand, is to get angry with those who tell us they’re conservatives on the campaign trail and then sell us out once firmly ensconced in office and (hyperbole alert!) sleeping on mattresses stuffed with cash from lobbyists and special interests.

Republicans, by their very nature, tend to avoid controversy. But there comes a time when it’s wholly appropriate to get angry as Hades and declare, “We’re not going to take it any longer!”

Just ask John Hancock and his fellow travelers in 1776.

Last year a majority of members of the Central Committee chose to fight rather than appease. Naturally those who prefer to let RINOs like Roberson and Stewart get away with their complete and total sell-out of everything the Republican Party supposedly stands for, stand in opposition.

So yes, the Clark County Central Committee indeed faces a fork in the road.

One path is smooth sailing; where never is heard a discouraging word for any Republican no matter how badly he or she votes.

The other path is littered with rocks, boulders and fallen trees. The slog will be extremely difficult, especially with establishment-types sniping from the bushes and high-price consultants without a principled bone in their bodies trying to steal our food and water.

The choice is stark and crystal clear.

Dave McKeon, with all of his faults, wants to lead the party back down the well-worn garden path; the safe path; the easy path. The path of standing for nothing and falling for anything. In fact, getting McKeon to take a firm stand on almost any tough, controversial issue is even tougher than getting a two-year-old to take a nap or eat his peas.

Or…

Cindy Lake, with all of her faults, has chosen to lead the party down the much more difficult path; the narrow path where practical politics is counter-weighed by principle; where people on the sidelines who would prefer to remain in their comfort zone get agitated and start taking shots at you.

Me, with all of my faults – and boy, are they legion! – I rarely take Easy Street. But after suffering the slings and arrows and cuts and bruises that come with taking the road less traveled every day…I sleep very well at night and awaken each morning ready to mount up again.

And regardless of how the Clark County Central Committee votes on Wednesday night, I’ll be right back on Rocky Road Thursday morning…just where I’ve been the last 20-some years. And I’ll either have a partner joining me, or I’ll be waving sayonara to friends who instead opted to return to the path of least resistance.

Either way, political life will go on. It always does.

I can’t tell you which path is right for you. I can only tell you which path is right for me. But I will tell you this…

Chairman Gibbs is absolutely right that majorities get to lead. And it will be the majority of Central Committee members who will determine which path the Clark County Republican Central Committee takes in the 2014 election cycle. So whichever path is your preferred path, please show up to vote Wednesday night.

Speaking of which, a huge turnout is expected for this highly contentious election, which will likely result in very, very, very long lines at the voting booths. As such, please be advised that staggered voting procedures have been put in place to alleviate the congestion.

Lake supporters will be voting between 7:00 pm and 8:30 pm. McKeon supporters will be voting between 8:30 pm and 10:00 pm.

That should go a long way towards shortening the lines, avoiding potential problems and making sure everything goes smoothly.

See you Wednesday!

* * *

P.S. No, Cathie Lynn, I’m only kidding. That staggered vote gag is an old joke we used to play on mush-headed Democrats on real Election Days. Hope “y’all” didn’t fall it.

But in case you did, the truth is the Lake supporters are to show up and vote on Wednesday night at the regular time. You and your supporters can vote at the same time, but on THURSDAY night, not Wednesday night.

We didn’t think it was right to keep you up past your milk-and-cookies bedtime.