National Journal picks up on Sandoval campaign's goal with Hispanics

National Journal's Hotline this week posted a piece on Gov. Brian Sandoval, joining many others in using the sunny meme that has stuck since shortly after he was elected in 2010.

The piece is about the goal, elicited by the Las Vegas Sun's Anjeanette Damon, of Gov. Sunny's re-election campaign to get 50 percent of the Hispanic vote next year. Sandoval, by running to the right of Gov. Jim Gibbons three years ago, was crushed by a 2-to-1 margin by Rory Reid among Latinos.

He has since done a lot of outreach, embraced the Senate's immigration reform and eagerly signed the driver's privilege card law (which helped even though it was portrayed mostly as a public safety issue.)

The Journal's Scott Bland writes about the Sandoval experiment as being instructive nationally, but that will depend on something that may not occur: The governor getting a real opponent.

If that, as I expect, does not happen, the demographics will be skewed, including with Hispanics. That is, the governor may get 50 percent of Latinos because they have no one else to vote for. But even if he gets a longshot foe -- Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak or state Sen. Tick Segerblom -- the Democratic machine could still make the Sandoval campaign's goal elusive.

Here's Bland's piece:


SPOTLIGHT: It's Always Sunny

Over the next year, one of our laboratories of democracy will host a consequential experiment. With Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval's (R) reelection prospects already looking firm, his team is eyeing an ambitious goal: 50% support among Hispanic voters, an unprecedented achievement that could have wide-reaching significance.

-- Sandoval has set himself up nicely for reelection, with solid approval ratings and a distinct lack of Dem interest in challenging him. Democrats own 4 statewide elected offices, but Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) isn't interested, and the others, like brand-name Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), are attempting incremental steps up.

-- That's given Sandoval's campaign some room to experiment with improving his average 33% showing with Hispanics in 2010. They're already testing out messages and communicating with Hispanic voters, with an eye toward fixing the NV GOP's Hispanic problem in a year when the solution is still a luxury.

-- The volume of the GOP conversation about broadening its appeal has faded, but it remains critical. Groundbreaking Hispanic performance by Sandoval could set a new tone for the state party, set a model for GOPers who don't believe minority support is achievable, and attract more Senate or even national interest in the guv. Important questions could remain, though: Would Sandoval have coattails or just an individual achievement? How much of his performance will rely on policy steps (including expanding Medicaid and extending some taxes to meet the state's budget without massive cuts) that some Republicans won't take? And would such performance even be replicable against a competitive Dem?

Nationally, the GOP needs Hispanic votes to prosper. In Nevada, it needs those votes to survive. Sandoval aims to show a way forward for both next year.
-- Scott Bland