The spring primaries have come and gone here in Nevada, with fairly horrific results. It’s like we’re living in a movie taking place in mid-1930s Nazi Germany. The bad guys know and relish what’s coming, while the good guys are too distracted by careers or love affairs or just trying to live their lives to really take notice.
Briefly, the winner of the Republican primary for Secretary of State wasn’t just a bad sport about Biden winning Nevada, he actually signed up as one of the fake Trump electors the Republicans attempted to fob off on the country.
And, to remove any doubt, he said he would not have certified Biden’s election if he had been Secretary of State. The party’s candidate for the Democratically-held Senate seat was right there with him.
The nominee for Governor finagled an endorsement out of Donald Trump, probably because he says he deported thousands of people when he was Sheriff of Clark County. Irony of ironies, he is now dealing with the second-place finisher’s charges of election fraud and obligatory threats of a lawsuit.
At the county level, at least where I live in northern Nevada, the results were a little more interesting—horror leavened with a dash of normalcy.
The January 6 Committee, among a number of stunning revelations, have produced a new term for our political lexicon. “Team Normal” is how one Republican insider referred to himself and a few others who took a pass on the Big Lie and the Giuliani/Eastman legal fiction for overturning the election.
I’m using the term with full understanding that letting today’s Republicans anywhere near the word “normal” is risky business. But it’s effective shorthand and who knows, “normal” is not so high a bar. Perhaps a party member here or there will rise to the occasion.
In that light, “Team Normal” won one and lost one in our county. The best news came in the County Clerk/Treasurer primary. Three candidates on the Republican side were competing to meet a non-partisan in the November election.
Two of them qualified for “Team Normal” by fully grasping the requirements of the job, and not believing or proposing anything crazy. They understood our current, retiring Clerk/Treasurer had run elections for a couple of decades without a hitch—invisible, like a good umpire. And carrying on with that legacy would be a good idea.
The third Republican was dyed-in-the-wool Big Lie believer and election denier whose platform consisted of taking the County back to good old “black mark on a paper ballot” elections—hand counted because, as she said, she “didn’t trust computers.”
She came close, but only because “Team Normal” split their voters. All three got about a third of the total, with the winner nosing out her normal rival by a handful of votes, and also finishing 170 ahead of the “back to paper” candidate.
Two-to-one against a totally impractical and fiscally ridiculous change to our elections was a good outcome. But make no mistake, we also dodged a bullet by 170 votes.
Not so with the Republican primary for the Assembly District that includes our county. Here, “Team Normal” put up a nice, well-spoken young man whose conservative credentials included working as a legislative assistant and as campaign field coordinator for the NRA.
In the other corner was none other than the current Chair of our County Commission. His legacy, still ongoing, is a litany of purely symbolic and utterly ineffectual resolutions, all pandering to the team “not normal” segment of the County Republican electorate.
These proposed everything from declaring the County a “Constitutional County,” in which the Sheriff was the supreme public official; to unilaterally and illegally nullifying a Covid-related emergency declaration from the Governor; to returning our County’s 43,000 voters to the above said hand-counted paper ballots.
This last resolution illustrated an ominous degree of overlap and coordination keying off the Big Lie that characterizes current Nevada Republican politics. It was considered at a meeting that droned into an endless and excruciating waste of the public’s and the Commission’s time. The Chair began by reciting a list of long-since debunked claims of voter fraud in Nevada. They numbered in the thousands and, in his mind if not reality, were settled facts.
He then turned the floor over to a traveling dog and pony show put on by none other than the eventually successful, election-denying Republican candidate for Secretary of State. His not so subtle hints that Donald Trump was still president were the launching point for his own “IT” specialist who spent an hour and a half telling stories about how easy it was to hack the County’s Dominion voting machines.
It took our County Clerk about a minute to put this blather to rest. The point she made about the stupidity of junking hundreds of thousands of dollars of perfectly functional voting machines and support contracts resonated with the other commissioners, though they did eventually approve a severely watered-down version of the resolution.
The Chair’s winning argument in the primary was a portrayal of himself as an uncompromising “fighter” for any and all causes dear to the hearts of MAGA Republicans. His opponent never strayed too far from these same issues, but he did mention how, as only one legislator, he might occasionally be open to working with other members of the Assembly—presumably even Democrats. Nothing says losing in today’s Republican Party better than that.
So the national political drama plays out in our county. Or more accurately, what happens in counties like ours works its way up and in fact constructs the national drama. And here is where, between now and November, we can deflect the course of that old black and white scenario, or even stop it.
Erich Obermayr is an author, community activist, and career archaeologist specializing in sharing historical and archaeological research with the public. He writes about Nevada politics and social issues. He lives in Silver City, Nevada, with his wife. Support Erich’s work in the Sierra Nevada Ally here.
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