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Seen and Heard at GOP Confab

I attended last night’s Nevada Republican Party special meeting in Las Vegas where former Gov. Bob List was elected as the party’s new National Committeeman, replacing Joe Brown who has been appointed to the state’s Gaming Commission. A few observations:

Gov. Jim Gibbons was a no-show. Again. How fortunate for the state party that it’s titular head can’t find time to hang out with the unwashed masses. No wonder his approval number is a single digit.

Sen. John Ensign did not show up to apologize for all the trouble his messed up personal life is causing the party, both here in Nevada and nationally. But, hey, at least he apologized to his DC colleagues, right?

No one would speak on the record or publicly about Ensign. But off the record only one person I spoke to came to his defense. The party regulars almost unanimously think the guy should resign – and that he’s likely to do so by the end of summer if one more shoe drops.

Meanwhile, someone must have been passing out some LSD before the meeting, because a serious discussion about Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert possibly running for governor next year was in the air. Or maybe that was just the cabbage boiling in the kitchen.

The good news about this idea, as noted by a conservative Assembly Republican who was at the meeting last night (which rules out Joe Hardy or Lynn Stewart), is that such a move would at least get her out of the Assembly where she did a pitiful job this last session as the GOP’s “opposition” (rubber stamp) leader.

The bad news, of course, is that Gansert would be equally bad as governor as she was minority leader. If not more so.

Then again, she couldn’t possibly be more inept as Gibbons, right? Of course, that the same thing they said about her as a possible replace for former Republican Assembly Minority Leader Garn Mabey – and look how THAT turned out.

Sharron Angle was “in the house” and gave a typically energetic speech about her challenge to Sen. Harry Reid. Angle continues to be far and away the best GOP grassroots campaigner in the state who actually does more to help Nevada Republicans by 9:00 a.m. every day than John Ensign does in a year.

Some guy named Chuck Kozak spoke, telling the crowd of folks who had never heard of or from the guy before that he, too, was running against Harry Reid. And to endear himself to the crowd, Kozak’s rather uninspiring remarks pretty much consisted of listing all the out-of-state non-Nevadans he’s hired to run his campaign.

Yeah, he’s going far.

I think the most impressive and most promising Republican who spoke last night was John Guedry. He all but announced that he was running against Rep. Dina Titus (D) and, even though a newcomer on the campaign stage, was savvy enough to downplay the biggest knock against him in his brief remarks, noting that while he’s a banker, he’s a community banker, not a Wall Street banker. Smart move. Good inoculation.

GOP gubernatorial candidates Joe Heck and Mike Montandon spoke. Montandon seems to have a slight edge right now among the party faithful, but Heck, a doctor by trade, unveiled a very memorable campaign slogan which just might catch on and resonate over the coming months – especially if Gibbons and Ensign continue to self-destruct and embarrass the party and the state: “I’m the cure for what ails Nevada.” That could sell.

Ran into James Smack at the meeting. He ran for Congress a couple years back up in northern Nevada. And while his chances against Rep. Dean Heller in that race were nil, he’d have an EXCELLENT chance against tax-hiking, big government RINO Assemblyman Tom Grady. Folks who know James need to give him some encouragement to make the challenge in next year’s GOP primary.

Some party insiders are furious with Gov. Gibbons for a recent appointment to fill a vacancy for the Nevada Attorney for Injured Workers. Although Republican Melodie Swanson of Las Vegas was interested in the position and is eminently qualified for it, Gibbons gave the spot to a Democrat Party activist from Douglas County who I’m told has no background or experience in this area. Another fouled up Gibbons appointment? What are the odds?