The number of races in which credible conservative candidates challenged moderate, establishment-backed candidates in Nevada this year was unprecedented. And regardless of whether or not the conservative candidate chalked up more votes at the ballot box, conservatives won. Big time.
Consider the GOP primary contest between moderate state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson and conservative challenger Carl Bunce.
Roberson’s voting record was one of the absolute worst in 2013. He not only voted to extend the $620 million worth of “sunset” tax hikes, he proposed his own new $600 million tax on the state’s mining industry. Not to mention his votes in favor of implementing Obamacare, increasing spending and growing government.
Yet if you read any of his campaign material, you’d think this guy was the second coming of Ronald Reagan. Thank goodness there are no “truth in political labeling” laws in Nevada.
Indeed, despite having pushed for more than a billion dollars worth of tax hikes last year, here’s what Roberson had the stones to put up on his campaign website:
“(I) stopped Democrats in the Nevada Legislature from imposing a ‘Family Fun Tax’ on Nevada’s working families. The ‘Family Fun Tax’ would have created new taxes on movie tickets, bowling, golf and other family activities.”
No he didn’t. That bill never even came up for a vote. To say he stopped the Family Fun Tax is like me saying I stopped a train from running through my backyard yesterday simply because no train ran through my backyard yesterday.
The main point is, in GOP primary race after GOP primary race, candidates such as Roberson, with moderate voting records similar to Roberson’s, didn’t run on their actual moderate voting records. Instead, they all ran as conservatives. Every one of them.
“Conservative” Sen. Ben Kieckhefer. “Conservative” Sen. Mark Hutchison. “Conservative” Assemblyman Cresent Hardy. “Conservative” Assemblyman Lynn Stewart. “Conservative” Assemblyman Pat Hickey.
So how can anyone make the claim that you have to be a moderate to win races when all of these guys are running as fire-breathing, card-carrying conservatives? And if the response is they’re only running as conservatives in the primary and will then revert to their true selves and run as moderates in the general election, what’s that make them?
Political snake-oil salesmen, that’s what.
Indeed, if these “pretend” conservatives pull off the scam and win renomination, it will only be because they vastly outspent their “real” conservative opponents and fooled enough low-information voters. Some victory.
But mark my words, after the scare many of these guys got this year by way of serious primary challenges, they’re gonna think twice before voting like Democrats again in 2015. And that, my friends, is a win for limited-government conservatism in Nevada. A big one.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at muthstruths.com.