GOP chairman responds to GOP Leader: You are right on "some key points"

A few days after Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey excoriated the party for its "circular firing squad" at a Washoe dinner, Chairman Michael McDonald has responded with his own blog post.

The chairman, who is there despite an attempt by Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller to oust him, headlined his post: "Pat Hickey is right on some key points"


Permit me to annotate:


Dear Fellow Republican,


At the Washoe Republican Party's annual dinner Monday night, Republican Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey delivered a prepared speech entitled, "My call for unity." I can't help but appreciate Leader Hickey embracing the call for unity that I and other Nevada GOP party leaders have been championing for several months now. 


Indeed, in that spirit I recently invited Leader Hickey's caucus - as well as Gov. Sandoval's campaign and the Senate Republican Caucus - to co-host the 2014 Nevada Republican Party State Convention in Las Vegas.  I encourage him to respond favorably to our offer and immediately begin participating in the planning of this important bi-annual event. (Ah, the put-up-or-shut-up offer. I get it. The word is "biennial," by the way.)


I also agree with Leader Hickey's remark that "We also should be smart when it comes to primary elections - we should listen to persons like William F. Buckley, the acknowledged founding father of modern American conservatism, who said, 'I am always for the most conservative candidate who can win.'"


Where we've had problems in this area in the past is when elected Republicans who represent solidly Republican districts vote as moderates with the Democrats on issues such as taxing and spending. They don't have to do this to win re-election, they're just going along to get along. That's the kind of behavior that attracts primaries, not "ideological purity" tests up and down the ballot. (Hmm. This sounds just like the nonsense that caused the governor and senator to try to get rid of him. I wonder if he would name names. That reads like a fringe group's manifesto. As Hickey and anyone with a triple-digit IQ knows, it is the far-right candidates who win primaries and who have helped allow Democrats to win elections.)


Indeed, recall that Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval ran and won in 2010 on a solid, small government, "no new taxes" platform in a Democrat-majority state, disproving any notion that you have to be open to raising taxes and growing government in order to win statewide in Nevada. (Um, no one ever said that. Hickey certainly didn't. And this would seem to be an oblique shot at what Sandoval has done since he was elected. UNI-ty!)


On the other hand, there are legislative districts in which the Democrats have a significant voter registration advantage.  And it's in those districts that we could use more moderate GOP candidates in order to increase our overall numbers in both the state Senate and state Assembly. (Now THAT makes sense.)


That's how you get a bigger tent without unnecessarily watering down or abandoning the party's core principles.  That's how to practice the politics of addition, rather than division.  That's how to be politically smart.


It would also help party unity if Republican candidates and elected officials would take the time to read the GOP party platform that is painstakingly drafted by the party's grassroots activists and convention participants. 


When elected officials not only deviate from key, not inconsequential, philosophical principles as outlined in the platform, but actively boast of not even bothering to read it, that is insulting to our volunteers and a cause for disunity in the ranks. (Oh, yes. Let's demand our elected officials hew to ridiculous litmus tests inserted into party platforms. That will help win elections.)


Disregard of GOP principles is a major reason for the increased gap in voter registrations in Nevada. Since 2006, the last time the GOP had more registered voters than Democrats, the GOP share of total voters has dropped from 40% to 34%, while Independents and non-partisan registrations have increased from 18% to 22%. (This is simply utter nonsense. The registration deficit is attributable to two factors: The Democratic machine, which is formidable, and the GOP machine, which is a joke. Period.)


Meanwhile, the Democrat share has remained consistently at about 41-42%. Why are Democrats holding steady while the GOP loses voters to third parties? When our candidates walk their districts to meet voters, they hear that these voters are leaving the GOP because they don't think their legislators are representing their beliefs.


I also agree with Leader Hickey that now is an "opportune moment when the electorate is looking for solution-oriented ideas to move more Nevadans back to economic health and a chance at the American dream for their children." 


In that regard, I can assure you there is no shortage of such ideas among members of the Nevada Republican Central Committee and our volunteers and donors! (Wait, you have donors?)


To that end, and in the interest of unity, I would suggest that Leader Hickey begin regular meetings and conference calls with some of our grassroots activists to develop a solutions-oriented 2014 campaign platform that GOP candidates can run on and GOP volunteers can support.


Lastly, I agree with Leader Hickey that in the Republican tent we need a wide variety of people with a center-right philosophy who will feel welcome inside.  But that has to be a two-way street.


All too often over the years - and it continues to this day - principled conservatives have been made to feel unwelcome in the GOP by too many establishment Republicans, as well as some consultants and lobbyists. (I'm sorry, could you remove your tin foil hat. I might be able to hear you better. By the way, the difference between "consultants and lobbyists" and the Nevada GOP: The former actually help win campaigns -- you know, like for Sandoval and Heller. Who are these men and women of principle made to feel unwelcome? Are they real? Of course not.)


If Mr. Hickey and other GOP leaders truly want unity within the party, they need to make Republican Party foot soldiers feel welcome in their worlds as true political partners, not just as props and tools to be called upon at election time.  The all-too-prevalent attitude of don't-call-us-we'll-call-you has to change if ever the party is to unite for common action and common good.


Yes, our common objective is to win.  But it can't be winning just for the sake of winning.  And it can't be "my way or the highway" from elected officials.  If we're to win as a team we need to play as a team.


Some of our elected officials have always understood  that working together is how we win. I appreciate their support, and I'm happy to work with them. I hope Assemblyman Hickey's speech in Reno is a sign of a new attitude among the other elected officials that they're willing to work closer with the party's activists and volunteers to not just win, but win meaningful victories that will help pull Nevada out of its ongoing economic funk. (Hasn't the governor said the funk is gone? And do you really have to beg? It's so sad.)