Nevada GOP Establishment: Bring us the head of Sigal Chattah!
By Chuck Muth
In his 2014 book titled “Takeover: The 100-Year War for the Soul of the GOP and How Conservatives Can Finally Win It,” veteran conservative strategist Richard Viguerie argues that “the toughest battle for conservatives” in the 1990s after Newt Gingrich’s takeover of Congress “was not with Democrats and liberals; it was with establishment Republicans.”
The more things change…
“It is hard for conservatives to understand that establishment Republicans are the enemy,” Viguerie writes. “They are not people who can be talked out of their commitment to Big Government; they must be defeated.”
The history of establishment Republicans knifing conservatives in the back traces at least to 1964, when establishment Republicans launched a “Stop Goldwater” campaign to block the nomination of conservative Sen. Barry Goldwater in the presidential race.
Goldwater went on to win the GOP primary against the establishment’s chosen candidate, Nelson Rockefeller. But rather than rally behind Goldwater, Viguerie points out, the establishment’s “Stop Goldwater” gang “never endorsed Barry Goldwater, did nothing to help him and much to hurt” his campaign.
Result: Democrat Lyndon Johnson won. And we all know how THAT turned out.
Viguerie goes on to remind us how establishment Republicans have since screwed over other conservatives when they didn’t get their way. Case in point: Doug Hoffman’s GOP primary campaign for Congress in New York in 2010.
The establishment backed Dede Scozzafava, “but she just wasn’t selling.” So “the Republican establishment was in a panic” and “with just a few days left in the campaign, Scozzafava withdrew from the race and endorsed the Democrat.”
Hoffman went on to lose in a very close race, proving once again that “rather than give an opening for the principled conservative to take the seat, many establishment Republicans would rather back a Democrat.”
Same thing happened that same year in Nevada. Rather than risk conservative Sharron Angle winning the U.S. Senate seat from then-Sen. Harry Reid, establishment Republicans created “Republicans for Reid.”
Reid won the race he should have lost, thanks to the GOP establishment. And we all know how THAT turned out!
Establishment Republicans, Viguerie notes, “would rather be in charge of a permanent minority than share power” with conservatives.
And let’s not forget what establishment Republicans in Nevada did in 2010 to conservative incumbent Gov. Jim Gibbons, who had just vetoed a record-number of liberal bills in the 2009 legislative session. They recruited RINO (Republican in Name Only) Brian Sandoval to successfully block Gibbons in the primary from re-election.
Sandoval went on to explode the state’s budget, give driver’s licenses to illegals, kill a ground-breaking school voucher program and engineer the largest tax hike in Nevada history.
Yeah, that worked out great for us.
Viguerie also notes what happened to conservative Congressman Todd Akin in the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Missouri.
Akin had won a hard-fought GOP primary against two opponents, but then stumbled on a “gotcha” question about abortion during a radio interview.
The Republican establishment again went into a panic. And instead of rallying to the defense of the conservative nominee, “the GOP power brokers pulled all support for Akin’s campaign” even though he was TIED in the polls with the Democrat candidate, Claire McCaskill.
“He (Akin) could be tied,” then-Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said at the time. “We’re not going to send him a penny.”
“We should sink Todd Akin,” added Bush II adviser Karl Rove. “If he’s found mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts!”
McCaskill went on to win this otherwise winnable seat for Republicans (Republican Josh Hawley beat her in 2018).
Then there was the case of conservative Richard Mourdock in the Indiana U.S. Senate race that same year, after Mourdock took out establishment Republican incumbent, Richard Lugar, in the GOP primary.
Like Akin, Mourdock got tripped up on the abortion question during a debate. GOP presidential nominee Mitt “Never Trump” Romney immediately threw him under the bus, even though Mourdock was leading in the polls at the time.
After the GOP establishment successfully dried up Mourdock’s funding, he went on to lose this otherwise winnable seat for Republicans (Republican Mike Braun won the seat in 2018).
“When conservatives put their foot in their mouth,” Viguerie notes, “establishment Republicans run for the hills, or worse yet, join Democrats in attacking them.”
For their part, establishment Republicans regularly argue that the conservative candidate “can’t win” and hide behind that excuse for torpedoing conservatives and backing moderate candidates. But, um, how’d that work out for the GOP that same year?
Well, not so well.
“Of the 31 races in which (Karl) Rove aired TV ads,” wrote legendary conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly in a post-election assessment, “Republicans won only 9.”
“Rove’s establishment losers included Rick Berg who lost in North Dakota and Denny Rehberg who lost in Montana, even while Romney was carrying both those states. Other establishment losers were George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Connie Mack in Florida and Heather Wilson in New Mexico.”
So much for that argument.
“When an establishment Republican — such as Mitt Romney (2012 GOP presidential candidate) — gains a nomination for office, the Republican leadership demands that conservatives close ranks with establishment Republicans and support the nominee, even if that nominee refuses to campaign as a conservative and has an anti-conservative record.
“But when a conservative gains a nomination, establishment Republicans are free to criticize the nominee and to do everything they can to undercut the conservative’s campaign.”
Which brings me to this year’s race for attorney general in Nevada. Which I’ll get to in Part II in the next edition of Muth’s Truths.
Don’t touch that dial!
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Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com