Las Vegas, NV – Republican donors and elected officials (looking at you, Hutch v. Laxalt) went all in for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to win Nevada’s GOP caucus on Tuesday – and now they’re in panic mode. Last night wasn’t pretty if you’re a member of the Republican establishment…
By John L. Smith
As the GOP primary continues to pump vitriol into the atmosphere, it’s important to remember something: The party bosses and their benefactors did this to themselves. They are the ones most responsible for alienating their own voters and failing to put forward a clear, reasonable conservative vision for the country.
Trump is winning with the equivalent of a traveling road show. In Nevada, he didn’t establish an early headquarters and didn’t spend a boatload of greenbacks to lock up the state’s conservative campaign braintrust. He did it without a single embrace, or even acknowledgment, from a major state party official. Meanwhile, candidates and third parties have dumped a bundle to gin up the excitement, register voters and make sure folks followed the leader to the caucus sites. Cue the kazoos.
And don’t forget: Republicans can’t blame the dastardly Democrats for these troubles. These wounds are self-inflicted.
By Jon Ralston
When Gov. Brian Sandoval meekly caucused for Marco Rubio Tuesday evening, risibly telling the media it was not endorsement, he became the perfect emblem for a tortured and neutered Republican Establishment.
The ineffectual campaigns of Rubio and Cruz, here and elsewhere (Ted, you can’t live off Iowa forever), continued even after the results came in Tuesday evening. The networks called it for Trump the instant the polls closed at 9 PM, presaging the blowout to come, the one both campaigns knew was nigh.
Cruz’s subdued speech after his third-place finish was something even the slick senator could barely sell as he argued that his was the only campaign that could defeat Trump and that once he got home to Texas, he would be the lone star standing. And Rubio, who slipped off to Michigan before the counting began, was on television Wednesday morning talking about how quirky and weird Nevada is (guilty!), conveniently forgetting how he had claimed the state as his second home in the days running up to the caucus and how his campaign for months had whispered that he could win here.
The caucus also exposed the limits of endorsements this cycle, and in the ongoing competition between Attorney General Adam Laxalt (Cruz) and Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison (Rubio), the result was a disaster. Hutchison can claim the silver and say Laxalt only took the bronze, but a more accurate assessment is they both essentially did nothing to slow the Trump tsunami.
Cruz won a couple of rural counties (Lincoln and Elko) while Rubio won….nowhere, mirroring his national results so far. (By the way, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, now owned by Sheldon Adelson, endorsed Rubio three different times in two weeks, to no avail. Talk about a dual Establishment failure.)
As for Sandoval, he caucused for a guy who supports Yucca Mountain and does not like gaming, nor does Rubio have the executive experience the governor insisted he wanted. (Sorry, John Kasich.)
By NICHOLAS RICCARDI
PAHRUMP, Nev. (AP) — Nevada Republicans thought they had put their immigration problems behind them.
After Sen. Harry Reid held onto his seat in 2010 by defending immigrants’ rights and in 2012 President Barack Obama handily won a state that is only 52 percent white, the state’s Republicans backed off their hardline stance on illegal immigration. The state party called for citizenship for people living in the country illegally, Republicans fell in line behind their popular Hispanic governor, Brian Sandoval, and the GOP swept the 2014 elections while hardly discussing the issue.
But now that detente is over. With elected officials in the state feuding over immigration and the party’s presidential contest in town, passions are raging once again and raising the specter that the party will never resolve the issue even where it is essential for its political survival.
“There is a backlash in general against people who break the law and get away with it,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, a supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz. “Nevada is very much a microcosm of what’s happened nationally,” he added — elite Republicans turned dovish on immigration, “and that conflicts with the rank and file….That’s why Trump has taken off so well.”
Nevada’s economy depends on a steady flow of overseas tourists. It is 28 percent Latino, 9 percent Asian-American and leads the nation with the highest rate of people living in the country illegally, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. Its immigrant communities — 19 percent of its population was born outside the United States — have helped turn a once reliably Republican state in presidential elections into one that backed Obama twice. Many analysts attribute that to hardline Republican positions on immigration.
The Florida senator still hasn’t won a state.
Senior Enterprise Editor, The Huffington Post
When Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio finished third in the Iowa caucuses, the media said he was the real winner. His campaign talked of a “3-2-1” strategy in which he’d finish second in New Hampshire and first in South Carolina. Yet he lost both states to Donald Trump, finishing fifth in New Hampshire and second in South Carolina.
Surely, Nevada would be the place he’d win. National Review had called it his “firewall.”
Wrong again. Rubio lost the Nevada caucuses Tuesday night. Trump won again, drawing further ahead in the delegate race.
Nevada was supposed to be a key state for the Florida senator. CNN’s John King explained the Rubio campaign’s plans for the caucus last year:
Plan A: Get at least one win in the first three states (Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina) and then win Nevada as the exclamation point before heading home to the giant Florida GOP primary.
Plan B: Win Nevada after going 0-3 to open the race so that Rubio survives to compete in his home state primary.
Plan A went out the window when Rubio went 0-3 in the first three states. Plan B just died on the Las Vegas strip. Now that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is out of the nomination race, Rubio is the establishment (and media) favorite. But he still hasn’t won a single state.
If Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, can’t pull out a victory in his home state on March 15, where can he win?