Last week, the top three Republican elected officials in Nevada finally found their moral compasses. They must have been hidden somewhere down deep, and all in the same place; because Governor Brian Sandoval, U.S. Senator Dean Heller, and Attorney General Adam Laxalt, all at the same time, made announcements that they would NOT be supporting Dennis Hof, the surprise winner of the Republican primary race for Assembly District 36. It was about time!
Of course, we can’t fault them for their statements. There is no doubt that Hof is a poor candidate. It’s not only because he is a brothel owner who unabashedly describes himself as “America’s pimp” and “the Trump of Pahrump” (somehow those two monikers seem strangely connected given the pitiful state of politics these days). But it’s not just that. Hof is almost wholly unfamiliar with the broad range of issues he would have to face as a legislator. Ask him about anything from education to economy; housing to healthcare; public lands to PERS; and he has trouble even scratching the surface of the topic. Mr. Hof ran solely on his (and much of Nye County’s) hatred of the Commerce Tax, passed by the Republican-led state legislature in 2015. He definitely knows how to push the right buttons on that. But other than that he knows how to run whorehouses – and that’s about it.
All of that being the case, it is certainly no surprise to see the top three Republicans in the state turning their backs on Mr. Hof. Unfortunately, their sudden decision to set aside politics and take a high moral ground came too little and way too late.
Where have these three amigos been for the past six months? The election is over! The damage is done! What is the point in taking a stand and expressing indignation now, after everyone has gone home shaking their heads in disgust at the whole thing? Might we suggest that perhaps a righteous stand on the subject would have been more effective BEFORE the votes were cast?
The Republican party in Nevada has been operating without a rudder for years now. When people like the Republican State Chairman Michael McDonald, who sent out a campaign letter in vicious opposition to Oscarson, are at the helm of the party; when the right wing dregs of the party like Las Vegas city councilwoman Michele Fiore campaign vigorously for Hof and is actually taken seriously – and when these oddball efforts actually can move the needle toward a candidate like Hof – well, that’s when you know that the maniacs have taken over the GOP asylum.
Why were these extreme elements able to make such a splash? How were they able to successfully drop Assembly District 36 down the rabbit hole, even despite the kicking and screaming of all the rural folks who are spread across this district?
Well, it was at least partly because those who SHOULD have been leading the party sat back and did nothing.
Where was the Governor? In 2015, Oscarson stood faithfully alongside Sandoval and supported the controversial Commerce Tax bill. It was Sandoval’s bill, for heaven’s sake! Why was there no championing from Sandoval on the successes of that bill in funding important education programs as unfortunate incumbents like Oscarson battled for their political lives? Why was there no reality check coming from the Governor’s office during this election cycle? Where was his appreciation for Oscarson’s loyalty? It was nowhere to be found! Instead the Governor sat quietly up in Carson City and waited yet another one out – like he has done before. Instead, he left Oscarson to flap around in the breeze alone, and with him all of the rural residents of District 36.
Where was Senator Dean Heller or Attorney General Adam Laxalt when real party leadership was needed? Granted, both had primary campaigns of their own. But neither was a real threat. This should have been a no-brainer. And it was as much so six months ago as it was last week after the votes were counted. This is, after all, what political courage is all about. And there was none from this trio.
While concerns or fears about the political ramifications of supporting one or the other in this wild and bitter race might be understood, there are times when a courageous leader must declare, “Politics be damned! Right is right, and right is always worth standing up for.”This was especially true in this case.
Never was there a clearer cause for which to show political leadership and courage.
Being a leader means taking a stand when it really counts, not after the damage is done and the political points are tallied. Waiting to safely take a stand the week after the election is sadly telling here. The timing in these three serendipitously simultaneous announcements was at best indecisive and at worst amorally ambitious.
Most of all, it was just plain disappointing!