In a time of endless political intrigue, the departures of a few loyal Nevada Republicans from their positions on two county central committees may seem unimportant.
Beyond the perfect storm of the national political climate, with scandal in every news cycle, Nevada is already heading headlong into the 2022 campaign with the races for the Senate and Governor of the United States drawing attention national media.
So that makes last week’s resignations of Washoe County Republican Party Central Committee Chairman Michael Kadenacy and Carson City GOP Central Committee Head and former State Comptroller Ron Knecht seem fairly trivial.
They are anything but that.
In my opinion, these are clear and public signs of the greatest ongoing dysfunction within the state Republican Party under the relentless sway of President Michael McDonald. Add to Washoe and Carson’s outbursts the collapse and disputes over the leadership of the Clark County Republican Party Central Committee, and you watch a party in crisis at precisely the wrong time in what promises to be a lively campaign season. .
The Clark County GOP woes have been documented and continue after what has been described as a purge of party loyalists whose greatest sins appear to have been to question the party’s leadership and fiscal sobriety.
The latest resignations of respected and die-hard Tories Kadenacy and Knecht are more signs of a state party that has been derailed.
In his letter this week to members of the Washoe Central Committee, loyal Private Kadenacy explained that each volunteer only has a certain amount of “time, treasure and talent to contribute.” My personal goal remains the same as when I started volunteering for the Party over seven years ago, for Republicans to regain the influence they once had over public policy. This goal resulted in a highly effective field program that targeted non-partisan voters in major state legislative races. Neither the main objective nor the program has changed.
This is the often thankless kind of work that central committees of either party do. These are the people who year after year volunteer to invest their sweat in the game away from the political spotlight.
When they start announcing that they intend to spend their time elsewhere, the party as a whole has real problems.
How chaotic is it? As signs of insanity, Kadenacy alluded to an April 2019 Washoe GOP central committee meeting that ended with a scuffle match and the police call, and the state central committee meeting of April 2021 which resulted in the Trumpian censorship of the Republican’s sole state official, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. His blatant transgression: refusing to falsely claim that Nevada’s 2020 presidential election was marred by widespread electoral fraud.
Immediately after the censorship, which gained ground after it was reported that members of the far-right Proud Boys were involved, Kadenacy accused party leaders of treating Cegavske unfairly and failing him to have granted anything approaching a fair hearing. He wrote in a statement: âIf our goal is to win the elections in this next cycle, I see no value in the state party attacking the only Republican constitutional officer. “
In his recent letter, he concluded: âI am saddened to see this same behavior once again infect the County and the States Parties. “
The senseless bullying and promotion of Trump’s big lie turned the Nevada GOP into a party of chaos and conspiracy, and Kadenacy had the decency to be baffled.
Although he did not directly address the issues of fundraising and State party spending in his letter, his last sentence left little doubt: âFor further context, I attach the letter of resignation from Ron Knecht, former State Comptroller, from his office at the Carson City Republican Party and Nevada Republican Party.
Knecht didn’t mince his words.
In a resignation letter dated September 21, Knecht expressed his gratitude to other members of the central committee who had volunteered so many hours on behalf of the party they had known for a long time. He was clearly concerned that the Nevada party he had devoted so much time and effort to had changed, and not for the better.
It was Knecht in April 2019 who proposed an audit of the State Party’s financial records. His concerns have been hushed up by others, perhaps enamored of the state leadership’s undeniable cheerleader relationship with the Trump administration.
âSuch group thinking is contrary to common sense and GOP principles,â Knecht wrote. “I will not miss these efforts to control others and falsely challenge people’s motives.”
Like Kadenacy, Knecht also referred to a limited time in the day to volunteer for the increasingly difficult duty of grassroots party work. After hinting at his intention to join Kadenacy, Jim Sievers and others in a bid to regain the party’s place in the state legislature, where Democrats hold majorities that guide political discourse, he has again raised a concern that is becoming an increasingly common topic of conversation. inside some elements of the GOP state.
“Another reason [for his resignation] is the CC state has become dysfunctional, âhe wrote. âIts leaders claim to have raised $ 5 million in an election year. Examining the books, I discovered that the State Party had obtained this money from the RNC [Republican National Committee] and other organizations outside of the state – and it was simply passed on to the statewide candidate selection and political employees of the RNC and other groups placed here. Very few of these were new money collected from the Nevadans, and the CC state did little for legislative and local contests. They and the national agents have systematically made efforts to raise funds for the RNC, consultants and vendors at the expense of local shopping. The state CC has also raised damaging unrest in Clark County and continues to do so. “
When you choose a big lie and a lot of money over honest sweat and a strong grassroots network, you are a political party that slides into meaninglessness.
John L. Smith is a longtime author and columnist. He was born in Henderson, and his family’s roots in Nevada date back to 1881. His stories have appeared in Time, Readers Digest, The Daily Beast, Reuters, Ruralite, and Desert Companion, among others. It also offers weekly commentary on the Nevada public radio station KNPR. His latest book, a biography of iconic Nevada political and civil rights leader Joe Neal, “Westside Slugger: Joe Neal’s Lifelong Fight for Social Justice” is published by University of Nevada Press and is available on Amazon.com. He is also the author of a new book, “Saints, Sinners, and Sovereign Citizens: The Endless War Over the West’s Public Lands”. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.