The Clark County Republican Party made it clear on the colorful campaign advertisement it mailed: The organization cannot make endorsements in a primary race.
But flip the mailer over, and some would argue a different message was clear.
“Why would liberal Democrats endorse Jennifer McDaniel for the Clark County Council?” the mailer read. Later, the flier answered its own question with another: “Could it be they expect McDaniel to vote like a Democrat?”
Below, there’s a head shot of candidate Eileen Quiring, noting she has chosen “a conservative we can trust” as her campaign slogan and that most of her donations came from “grass roots Republican activists.”
The two Republican candidates and the mailer, paid for by the Clark County Republican Party, are illustrative of a long-standing war that’s being waged within the local party ranks. In 2012, a push to elect anti-establishment Republicans or “grass roots Republican activists” to GOP leadership successfully worked to oust the old guard.
Now, some are hoping after a Dec. 3 election among party officers, the local GOP’s pendulum could swing the other direction.
Clark County Republican Chair Kenny Smith, however, doesn’t foresee any massive shake-up in the party’s future.
“I hope there’s not a shift back to top-down,” he said. “I hope it remains a grass-roots organization and it’s my anticipation that it will.”
But, Smith added, “This is the proper place for the battle to occur. We’ve seen a lot of improper ways people have tried to damage the party over the last few years. The proper way is the every other year organizing of the precinct committee officers.”
First, on Saturday, the party’s rank-and-file members are scheduled to weigh in on the role the party plays when it comes to contested primaries.
Trevor Winton, a precinct committee officer, said the mailer was “effectively taking a position,” as an endorsement would.
Quiring ended up receiving 2,901 more votes than McDaniel in the primary, and will face Democrat Roman Battan in November.
Winton plans to present a resolution on Saturday at this weekend’s Clark County PCO meeting.
“I want to create clarity about what we’re doing, so we don’t have these arguments,” he said. “We don’t want to argue about what’s fair and what’s not fair, we lose the ability to focus on what’s important, which is advancing our core principles.”
If adopted, the resolution would call for the Clark County Republican Party’s neutrality when it comes to Republican candidates in a contested primary. That would include sharing voter database information or using funds to promote a particular candidate.
“The bylaws, at least the spirit of the bylaws, (say) there should be no taking of a position,” Winton said.
Smith, the party’s chair, said there’s nothing wrong with attempting to clarify where the party stands, but he stands by the mailers.
“In my view, an endorsement is what the precinct committee officers do after the primary,” Smith said, adding what the party did this year was in line with previous election cycles. Overall, Smith said, he’s hoping this election proves Republicans can work together and “realize the benefit of working together.