By Don Dike-Anukam
I am not really worried about November in Nevada.
On the one-year anniversary of President Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, multiple women’s rights groups, left-wing activists, and Democrats rallied together from all corners of the nation and the world.
The Women’s March was intended to be a sign of solidarity, resistance against Trump, and in many ways an act of defiance against the Trump agenda and what Donald Trump stands for. From my understanding, the attendance numbers increased across the country and unofficial estimates indicate Reno’s march increased from last year by 2000 attendees.
But on that same day as millions of Americans were out marching in the streets, stadiums, and squares chanting “me too,” tens of thousands of Americans were walking and talking to hundreds of thousands of Americans on their doorsteps and organizing and training for the big day in November.
Something I’ve learned in my long time of observation in public affairs and politics is this: rallies are nice, public speeches are big and cool, but at the end of the day, what wins elections is good ol’ fashioned activism in getting people to the polls.
You do that by organizing, training, and building regular voters into engaged, trained, and motivated activists. It’s about people talking to people!
So why I say I’m not worried about November in Nevada is simple. Republicans in Nevada have a lot going for them this year. First and foremost, Republican energy and political loyalty to the Republican brand is strong despite a low national approval rating of President Trump. Second: There are good, seasoned, experienced, and high brand name candidates up and down the ticket.
For example, Adam Laxalt (R), presently the first term Attorney General of Nevada, is running for Governor of Nevada and presently has a primary challenge in current State Controller Dan Schwartz (R).
Laxalt has an asset that has been quietly building his profile and political position for the last four years since his unlikely victory for Attorney General against Former Secretary of State Ross Miller (D) in 2014: the Basque Fry that he started in 2015. This gathering of conservatives and activists at the Corley Ranch in Gardnerville has attracted a lot of big Republican names during the 2016 Republican primary and in recent years. This has made him, for lack of a better word, a Republican rock star in Nevada activist circles and has raised his profile considerably at the national level.
I don’t see this race being a divisive or harmful one as it will be likely decisive toward one candidate. Further up the ticket in the U.S. Senate race, you have the incumbent Dean Heller (R), who has never a lost a race in his political career, versus Las Vegas businessman, basketball coach, and son of legendary UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, Danny Tarkanian (R).
I again do not see this race being specifically divisive. This race is a big focus for a lot of Republicans and Democrats nationwide as Heller is thought to be one of the most vulnerable incumbents in the 2018 midterm cycle due to Nevada’s demographics and his proximity at times to President Trump on some issues.
For right now I will refrain from dispensing what I think will be the outcome of those contests. The big question that we will ask from this point on: can the Democrats turn Trump anger and dislike on his signature policies and issues into action and votes?
Even in Nevada, only time will tell. Still, my guess says that it is not likely because I don’t see the Trump effect having any major negative impact on Nevada’s marquee races.
This is primarily because I think the Republicans have been building a better political organization in key counties of Washoe and Clark than in years past in order to counter the Democratic party machine.
Also, I think most Nevada voters don’t see the Nevada Republicans as the same as Trump. So, again, I’m not worried about what I see on TV and at the marches. I think this an election that will be won by whoever shows up. At the moment, the Republicans look like they have a lot to show up for.
Don Dike-Anukam is a Reno native attending college in northern Nevada. He has been involved in activist politics for 15 years on and off, and has been involved in multiple campaigns in multiple positions in that time. He also was a college radio political, news, and talk-show host covering a range of stories from hostage standoffs, fires, interviews, and public speeches. In his free time Don enjoys running, reading, and watching political news/events. (What did you expect from a political geek?)