By Chuck Muth
Let’s face it, 2020 sucked.
But there ARE some silver linings in the Silver State for conservatives. So without further ado, here are Citizen Outreach’s 2020 Nevada Conservative of the Year Award recipients…
As a seasoned veteran of the conservative political wars, I’m starting off with my Top 10 “Conservative Rising Stars” who can pick up where
old guys like me leave off when the time comes.
#10: Ray Serrano
In my campaign training seminars and newsletters, I often note that “there’s more incompetence in the field of political consulting than in any field other than TV psychiatry.” And that’s especially true here in Nevada.
Ray Serrano is one of the founders and Chief Operating Officer of Winners Circle LLC, a political consulting firm. And not only does he know what he’s doing… he does what he says.
At a post-election meeting of Citizen Outreach’s “Ballot Integrity Project,” Ray volunteered to head up some field work that needed to be done FAST. He didn’t ask what to do or how to do it. He just did it. And he did it right.
This is the kind of guy you would trust to “carry a letter to Garcia.” (If you’re not familiar with that story, Google it. Lots of great lessons for everybody, not just folks in politics.) A definite rising star over the barren wasteland of Nevada political consultants.
#9: Marcos Lopez
Marcos is the Community Engagement Director and State Legislative Liaison for Americans for Prosperity (AFP) in Nevada. Philosophically,
he describes himself as a “Goldwater Liberty Republican.” No wonder I like him so much.
Marcos is a sharp grassroots warrior with a quick wit and engaging personality. He regularly testified on bills during the 2019 session of the Nevada Legislature and will be back in 2021. And he’s extremely effective in mobilizing citizen action through phone banking and door to door canvassing.
Marcos is also extremely effective in organizing rallies and events, and deals very effectively with the media, legislators and leaders of conservative coalition groups. Wouldn’t surprise me to see AFP put him in charge of its entire state operation sometime in the near future.
#8: Daniel Honchariw
Daniel is the Senior Policy Analyst and Director of Legislative Affairs at the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) — the oldest and most effective conservative think tank in Nevada.
A California refugee (not a “missionary”), Daniel is an absolute wiz on public policy issues, especially in matters of the budget and school choice. His work has been published in USA Today, The New Yorker, Reason, the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Reno Gazette-Journal.
If there’s a complicated issue I need to understand better, Daniel’s my “go to” guy. Conservative legislators would be wise to put him on speed-dial for the upcoming 2021 session.
Side note: One of my New Year’s resolutions is to learn and memorize the proper pronunciation of Daniel’s last name!
#7: Sam Peters
Sam was a first-time candidate in 2020, running as a conservative Republican for Nevada’s 4th congressional district. He was an impressive workhorse campaigner and a darned successful fundraiser.
Unfortunately, he picked the wrong race at the wrong time and failed to advance out of the GOP primary.
But unlike all too many one-and-done first-time candidates – who burst onto the scene with much pomp and circumstance only to fade into that
good night, never to be seen or heard from again after a loss (I call it the “Mark Sherwood Effect”) — Sam immediately launched his own conservative PAC and started a conservative podcast.
My guess is you’ll see his name on a Nevada ballot again in the future. I just hope next time around he picks a race he has a better shot at actually winning. We need good conservatives at ALL levels of government — especially (hint, hint) in the Nevada Legislature.
#6: Lisa Song Sutton
Lisa was also a first-time candidate in 2020, also running as a conservative Republican for Nevada’s 4th congressional district. And like Sam Peters, she ran a solid campaign that came up short in the GOP primary.
But this is one impressive young woman that we haven’t heard the last from. What really impressed me about Lisa’s campaign was her media presence — both social and mainstream.
She’s a gifted communicator, attractive, knowledgeable, personable and unafraid of just telling it like it is; an unapologetic conservative, a champion of entrepreneurship and the living embodiment of the American dream.
I don’t know what Lisa’s future political plans might be, but if she picks the right race at the right time, nothing will stop her. And we’ll all be better off for it.
#5: Andy Matthews
If I remember correctly, Andy cut his political teeth as the campaign manager for former State Sen. Bob Beers’ 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
He went on to run the Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI) in 2011, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2016, then moved on to manage Adam Laxalt’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
This year Andy dipped his toes back into the Candidate Pool. He slugged out a tough primary win for a state assembly seat before going on win an even tougher general election race against a Democrat incumbent.
Amazingly, he’s expected to report raising almost $400,000 for the race, mostly from small-dollar donors. To put this feat in perspective, the three Assembly GOP caucus LEADERS have reported raising just over $200,000…COMBINED!
Andy is a triple-threat conservative lethal weapon. He’s well-grounded in retail politics. He’s a master on public policy issues. And he can raise money like nobody’s business.
That the Republican Assembly Caucus didn’t immediately put Andy in a leadership position for the upcoming session is Stuck on Stupid on steroids. But trust me. You’re gonna see and hear a lot more of Andy Matthews in the upcoming legislative session…and for years to come.
#4: Katie Williams
The biggest problem in public education is that it’s controlled by the teachers’ unions that care more about their dues-paying members than
our children’s education. And they maintain their death grip on our public schools by bank-rolling liberal candidates who genuflect at the
union’s knees for school board seats.
Then in burst Katie Williams! In her Clark County school board race, Katie upset the apple cart, shook the rafters, rattled the cage, broke all the dishes in the china shop, and gave the union bullies more heartburn than a truckload of Tums could cure.
She wasn’t supposed to win her primary, and she sure as shootin’ wasn’t supposed to win in the general. But she did. And without hiding her conservative beliefs. In fact, she RAN on them. Unapologetically.
There are lots of conservatives in office. There are not, however, many boat-rocking conservatives unafraid of sitting on the tip of the spear. Katie’s one of them. School board meetings are about to become a LOT more interesting.
#3: Courtney Holland
I don’t know exactly where, when and how conservative activist Courtney Holland first hit my radar screen earlier this year, but I found her on Twitter and was immediately hooked. Her pinned tweet back then read something like: “I’m just here to fight the commies.”
Now who could argue with that? Courtney does everything right on Twitter (and other social media) — which explains why she has over 135,000 followers nationwide. Her tweets are fun, topical, informed, sarcastic, entertaining, acerbic and, well, just plain cool.
She’s a conservative communications and messaging ninja who definitely has a way with words…something I’m particularly appreciative of.
Courtney’s also a person of action. She promotes rallies and events, attends rallies and events, organizes rallies and events and fires up the crowd at rallies and events. In fact, she’s on her way to DC right now for the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally on Capitol Hill.
I’m betting she again lands a major speaking slot.
Conservatives in general, and Republicans in particular, pretty much stink on ice when it comes to communications and messaging. If the GOP
was smart (I know, I know…an oxymoron), they’d hire Courtney in some capacity as its spokesperson, press secretary or communications
director. Or maybe there’s a “Candidate Courtney” in our future? If so, it’ll be epic.
If you’re not following her on Twitter, go to @HollandCourtney. You won’t be disappointed. What you will be is better informed, truly inspired…and with a smile on your face.
#2: April Becker
April Becker, who ran for the state senate this year, and I met for the first time back in May, just before the primary. And a couple things became immediately clear…
She’s extremely personable, confident and conservative. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and won’t take crap off anybody. She’s nobody’s puppet. She’s no creampuff. She’s no wallflower. She’s no pushover. To the contrary, April has the fighting spirit of a honey badger.
She was a first-time candidate with a lousy campaign manager (Charles Gallagher, since you know I ain’t afraid to name names) running
against the cash-flushed Democrat Senate Majority Leader in a Democrat-majority district.
Yet she “lost” by less than 1 percent in a race riddled with election problems, irregularities and unmistakable signs of voting fraud.
And while most other candidates who lost close races in this totally fouled up election simply accepted their defeat and withdrew from the battlefield, April fought back. She put together a team of grassroots canvassers who went door-to-door to collect sworn affidavits attesting
to votes illegally cast and then sued to contest the results. I don’t know what, if anything, lies in April’s political future.
Losing a close race that may very well have been stolen is a pretty bitter pill to swallow. But if she does stay in the game, Katy bar the
door. Watch your back, Susie Lee!
#1: Annie Black
Annie “The Disrupter” Black has all the “right” moves.
After losing a state assembly race her first time out as a candidate a few years ago, Annie came back and ran for a smaller local seat on the
Mesquite city council in 2018. And won.
Then, on March 13 of this year, she “Pearl Harbored” incumbent RINO Assemblyman Chris “The Weasel” Edwards (the guy who in 2015 wore a
wire on his conservative colleagues in the Legislature trying to entrap them) by filing to run against him at the last minute of the last day of filing.
He never saw her coming.
Annie smoked Edwards in the primary, garnering over 60 percent of the vote. A landslide. And immediately became the assemblywoman-elect
since no Democrat or independent candidates filed to run.
She then started her own conservative PAC (political action committee) and endorsed six conservative candidates in tough races. Five of them
After the November election, Annie shocked the Carson City political “establishment” by announcing her decision NOT to join the Republican
Assembly Caucus; choosing instead to represent her constituents independently without being “controlled” by party leaders.
And she’s just getting warmed up.
Annie’s name may be “Black,” but her mission is to turn the Nevada Legislature red. And she understands Rome wasn’t built in a day. Indeed, it took Newt Gingrich 16 years before he successfully flipped the U.S. House in 1994.
And the left sees her as the threat she is. That’s why their attack dog — liberal blubber-blogger Jon Ralston — recently referred to her as “a zero.”
Annie Black is no “zero.” She’s a disrupter of the status quo. A conservative boat-rocking swamp-drainer who won’t be intimidated, threatened, bullied or bamboozled into keeping her opinions to herself.
Now, I realize conservative-haters like Ralston will accuse that Annie’s my #1 “Rising Star” pick only because I was her campaign manager. But in reality, it’s the exact opposite.
I signed on with Annie because I recognize her potential as a conservative rock star with the skills and instincts to dramatically reshape the political playing field throughout Nevada for years to come.
She’s a fierce fighter, a principled conservative, an independent thinker and nobody’s “puppet.” Anyone who doubts that doesn’t know Annie Black.
If you’re not getting her award-winning AnnieGram e-newsletter, sign up at www.AnnieGram.net. And “follow” her on Twitter at @RealAnnieBlack. She’s gonna make the 2021 session a LOT more interesting and you’re not gonna wanna miss it!
Additional Conservative of the Year Awards Our “Comeback Kids Award” goes to former conservative Assembly members Jill Dickman and Richard McArthur who, against all odds, won their “swing” seat elections despite the fact that their former GOP caucus colleagues refused to support them in their primary races. Welcome back, Jill and Richard!
Our “Unsung Hero Award” goes to Steven DeLisle. Dr. DeLisle (a real doctor, not like Jill Biden) originally intended to run for the open state senate seat in District 5. But that would have meant a bruising and expensive primary against fellow GOPer Carrie Buck for this “must win” seat for Republicans.
So Dr. DeLisle took one for the team and opted instead to run for the Assembly seat held by an entrenched Democrat incumbent in a Democrat-majority district. And he almost pulled it off.
More importantly, though, his selfless act resulted in Buck squeezing out a very close win and the GOP picking up a Democrat seat in the Senate. Hat’s off to you, Doctor.
Our “Courage Under Fire Award” goes to Clark County District Court Judge Richard Scotti.
Judge Scotti was facing a tough re-election race. Nevertheless, he risked political blowback by ruling in a DUI court case that a pair of double-dipping Democrat state senators can’t simultaneously enforce the laws they vote on as lawyers for the Clark County district attorney’s office.
Judge Scotti relied on the plain “separation of powers” language in the Constitution to render his decision. It was the right decision, even though it may have hurt him politically. Indeed, he came up short in his re-election bid.
But the ruling, which is naturally being appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, is potentially a major political game-changer in the state. And rest assured, this isn’t the last we’ve heard from the good judge.
And finally, our “2020 Conservative of the Year Award” goes to (drum roll, please)…
Don Ahern While other casinos and hotels withered under gubernatorial threats and have kept their meeting rooms and convention facilities closed, Mr. Ahern opened his Las Vegas hotel for the Nevada Republican Club’s monthly luncheons, the Clark County GOP’s convention and Lincoln Day Dinner and a number of pro-Trump rallies.
And when Gov. Sisolak’s “emergency” shutdown orders threatened to block a major Trump rally featuring the President himself back in September, Mr. Ahern hosted the event at his manufacturing plant in Henderson.
For his trouble, Sisolak’s deputized “compliance officers” issued fines and citations, harassed him unmercifully and threatened to shut his operations down. To which Mr. Ahern and his attorneys have essentially replied: “Pound sand.”
That takes brass. Wish more business owners — and especially the gaming industry — would follow his lead. Thank you, Don Ahern.
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Yes, 2020 sucked. And with Sisolak and the Democrats remaining in control of Carson City, don’t expect 2021 to be much better.
But there’s hope. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Like in sports, there’s always a next season. And Nevada conservatives have some pretty strong pitchers warming up in the bullpen.
Happy New Year to each and every one of you. Thanks for reading Muth’s Truths. And welcome to Campaign ’22!
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The opinions expressed in Muth’s Truths are those of Chuck Muth and ONLY Chuck Muth and should not be construed to represent the opinion
of any other individuals or organizations Mr. Muth is associated with.