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The Hunt for a New Nevada GOP Chief

(Chuck Muth) – With the resignation of Chris Comfort as chairman of the Nevada Republican Party – or as he “rebranded” it, the Republican Party of Nevada (brilliant!) – the GOP needs to find and elect a new chief at its May 15th meeting in Reno. Who will be the sacrificial lamb?

Advisors close to M Resort owner Anthony Marnell III confirm that, despite rumors to the contrary, he has no interest in the job. Smart move on Marnell’s part – especially since he still might consider running for statewide office in the near future – but a loss for Republicans who could desperately use some competent management after its four-month disaster under Captain DisComfort.

By the way, the Nevada GOP is not in as bad a shape as many would like you believe. Indeed, jettisoning Comfort positions them for a strong comeback this election cycle.

They’ve hired a talented and aggressive communications director in the form of Ciara Turns, who will give her Democrat counterpart, Phoebe Sweet, a run for her money. And they also just added an experienced executive director, Cory Adair, who gives every impression of a man on a mission who knows how to accomplish it.

Oh, and the party is NOT broke. Before stepping down as chairman to run for the U.S. Senate last fall, Sue Lowden had paid off the party’s debt from the 2008 presidential caucus and established a national direct mail fundraising program which is now netting positive and significant cash flow every month.

Combined with political winds blowing “rightward,” the Nevada GOP is now positioned to rise from the dead in November and enjoy some electoral success. As long as they elect a chairman next month who won’t get in the way.

Anyway, with Marnell out, the most talked-about potential candidate I’m hearing now is term-limited Nevada state Sen. Mark Amodei.

The problem is, being a candidate and being a party leader are two entirely different animals. It’s rare for a politician to end up a successful party chairman; they’re two different animals requiring two different skill sets.

Also, Amodei’s political and campaign experience is pretty much limited to his Republican-friendly state Senate district in rural Nevada. What it takes to win races in Democrat-heavy Clark County is WAY different.

In addition, Amodei still carries around the baggage of his vote for the Mother of All Nevada Tax Hikes in 2003. However, Amodei doesn’t think championing conservative issues, like tax hikes, is as important as grassroots organizing. He tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal in a story published today that “The Democrats in Nevada have never been better organized than they are now. That’s reality before you get to policy.”

Not sure, but I think the tea partiers might disagree with him on this.

Other former politicians being mentioned include term-limited state Sen. Maurice Washington and former Congressman Jon Porter.

But as I’ve written before, the GOP’s big job this election cycle is to persuade independent and disillusioned conservative Republicans to vote Republican in November. The party chairman needs to focus on communicating a solid message more than worrying about voter registration. In that case, perhaps it should think out of the box and look at someone like former TV sportscaster-turned-conservative-activist Ron Futrell.

Or maybe Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Chachas – an articulate, conservative money-raiser with management experience – could drop his campaign plans and pay a little party “dues” by taking on the task. Nevada Republicans might then believe he’s really here to stay and would consider him for a future race.

Or it could continue sliding down the razor-blade of political life and tap, say, someone like Clark County Chairman SpongeBob Ruckman.

Decisions, decisions.