Nevada GOP group is so desperate for candidates they’re offering to pay people to run as Republicans

Republicans are trying to stop the "blue wave" in its tracks.

In Nevada, the Clark County Republican Party says it will pay for residents to run for office. (CREDIT: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
In Nevada, the Clark County Republican Party says it will pay for residents to run for office. (CREDIT: Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Clark County Republican Party says it will pay for Nevada residents to run for public office, due to the lack of conservative candidates in several districts.

“As I’m sure you’re aware, candidate filing is about to close and we’re still short on candidates in many senate and assembly races,” the organization wrote in an email to donors and supporters Friday, which was signed by the CCRP E-board. “…To sweeten the pot, Clark Country Republican Party is willing to put up $1,500 to reimburse the filing fee for the first Republican to file in any of these districts.”

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The districts listed in the email included Assembly Districts 1, 3, 6, 7, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 34, and 42; and state Senate Districts 2, 10, and 21.

CCRP added, “Today is the final day. We must have the candidates file before 4 p.m. Filing ends at 4 p.m. The first to file in these districts gets reimbursed their filing fee. Hurry, this is the last day!”

Nearly all of the districts listed in CCRP’s email are currently held by Democrats. The state Senate’s 10th District is currently held by Yvanna Cancela, the child of Cuban immigrants who worked on former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s 2010 re-election campaign. Cancela was appointed to the seat in December 2016 after its previous holder, Ruben Kihuen, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Nevada State Senate District 21 has been vacant since July 2017, when state Sen. Mark Manendo (D-Las Vegas) resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.

In an email to ThinkProgress on Friday, Clark County Republican Central Committee Chairman Carl Brunce clarified that the funding for reimbursements came from a single donor, rather than from the “county party directly.”

“We have a desire to have no unopposed races for Nevada Senate and Assembly,” he said. “While most of these districts are DEM strongholds, we as a party want to not make them automatic wins for the Democrats. We can also work with these candidates to develop networks within those DEM heavy districts to build a presence for the future by creating Republican groups within those districts.”

Republicans across the country have been under increasing pressure to strengthen their ranks of late, with a so-called “blue wave” of Democrats at the local and state level breaking through or making significant gains in traditionally red strongholds. In Pennsylvania this week, Democrat Conor Lamb beat his Republican rival, Rick Saccone, to win the state’s 18th congressional district — an area President Trump won by 20 points in 2016.

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Experts are now turning their their eyes westward, with analysts eyeing typically Republican strongholds in the Midwest and western regions.

“Look through the Rust Belt, in areas that used to be blue,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said this week, speaking with The New York Times. “If you’re in a congressional district that’s eight, 10 or 12 points carried by Trump, I would hope that the D.C.C.C. is now putting that in the target.”

Republicans, by contrast, have urged each other to tie themselves to President Trump and his policies, despite past candidates like former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore failing on that same strategy.

“He wouldn’t embrace the president, so the base that came out to vote for the president and that voted for me, didn’t come out,” failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart told Politico in November, following rival Republican Ed Gillespie’s defeat to Democrat Ralph Northam in Virginia.

However others have cautioned Republicans to steer away from that approach. “Be yourself and run your own campaign,” veteran GOP campaign strategist John Weaver told Politico that same month. “Don’t embrace this nationalist approach.”

It’s unclear whether any of the Republican hopefuls who take up CCRP on its offer and register to run on Friday will follow that advice. So far, the Nevada GOP appears to be doing just the opposite: “#MAGA Alert!” party officials tweeted last week, quoting a post by national GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who was touting Trump’s economic record.