By Sam Kumar
The Washoe County Republican party held its elections last month, and both the Chairman and Secretary were re-elected for a third consecutive two-year term. Such stability is rare in Republican party politics at the local level, and these results bode well for the party heading into the 2022 election cycle.
In party politics, there is no such thing as an off-season. Every alternate November, immediately after the election, the Assembly and Senate caucuses convene to elect their respective leadership. January and February mark the fundraising dinners for the county parties (Lincoln Day dinner on the Republican side and Jackson-Jefferson dinner on the Democrat side, or whatever it is their elevated wokeness will allow them to call it this week!). In odd-numbered years, February through May is the legislative session; in even-numbered years Spring is for the filing period and primary campaigns, followed by the county and state conventions. Between these major events, you have committee meetings, central committee meetings, fundraising, candidate recruitment, etc. The cycle then repeats in a two-year cadence.
While the events of each cycle are fairly identical, each has its own set of dynamics attached to it. For instance, the 2022 cycle presents an abundance of opportunities for the Republicans in Nevada. The Republicans are two seats away from a majority in the state Senate. While an Assembly majority is six seats away, redistricting and a good crop of candidates could make for some interesting races. Also up for grabs are four Congressional seats, one US Senate seat, all six state-wide constitutional offices along with several county-wide and non-partisan offices. In a non-presidential election cycle, the party in the White House typically loses ground across the country. I am optimistic that it will be a blockbuster year for Republicans in Nevada.
While the focus of the broader populace is typically at the national level, there is plenty of action at the state and local level where the county and state parties have a significant role to play. In recent election cycles, the Washoe County Republican Party has excelled in this space. There is no such thing as a non-partisan race as most voters identify themselves with one party and often vote for the candidate from that party with very few exceptions. A candidate’s ability to identify with a certain party can be the difference between winning and losing. Historically, thanks to Senator Reid’s funding and influence, the Democrat party has done an excellent job of elevating Democrat-leaning candidates for non-partisan offices to victory. In recent election cycles, however, the Washoe County Republican Party (WCRP), under the leadership of Chairman Michael Kadenacy and Secretary Phyllis Westrup, has narrowed the gap significantly. Three slate mailers (two in Washoe and one in Clark County) and a heavy dose of radio ads in support of key candidates were all part of the stepped-up WCRP efforts in 2020. The WCRP has also built a robust analytics and internship program which has targeted specific races and impacted the outcome throughout the state. For 2022, the party is planning to significantly expand its candidate support effort.
One final point: Washoe is one of a handful of bellwether counties in the country. Nevada’s rural counties, which lean hard right, cancel out Clark county, which leans left. Statewide races are essentially determined by Washoe. Win Washoe by two or more points, and you will most certainly win Nevada. Washoe is vitally important to Republican success statewide. With challenges like re-districting on the horizon, party stability in Washoe bodes well for Republican efforts in 2022. Advantage Republicans.