The candidate with the most money does not always win. But there’s no denying that money is a huge factor in races. So the first round of campaign finance reports always proves interesting. Let’s take a look:
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval hauled in almost $3 million for his re-election bid. Quite impressive. And, as the GOP’s titular head, he should immediately tithe at least 10 percent of that to the various Republican Party organizations to help lesser-known and underfunded candidates. I’d suggest $100,000 to the Nevada GOP, $25,000 each to the Washoe and Clark parties and $10,000 each to the other 15 rural counties.
Sandoval, as the party’s top elected official, needs to stop bleeding the local parties dry for his own re-election and instead give them a shot in the arm — the way Sen. Harry Reid does for the Democrats.
Sandoval’s running mate, Mark Hutchison, also hauled in quite an impressive figure — $850,000. But money can’t buy you love. And Hutchison’s decidedly nonconservative voting record in 2013, including support for Obamacare and more than $1 billion worth of tax hikes, isn’t likely to play well with conservatives who make up the bulk of the GOP primary electorate.
Plus his Republican opponent, Sue Lowden, is far better qualified for the office he’s running for, which between sessions is focused on tourism and economic development.
Democrat candidate for attorney general Ross Miller raised a ton in 2013 — and figured on smooth sailing all the way. But a credible GOP challenger, Adam Laxalt, jumped into the race just before the campaign reports were filed. And with no expected primary challenge, Laxalt will have plenty of time to catch up.
By all accounts, Republican state senators drove away with dump trucks loaded with cash, as well. They’re going to need it. Only three state senate seats are really in play this cycle, with Democrats holding slim voter registration advantages in all three.
And Republicans need a clean sweep — with untested candidates up against sitting legislators in two of them — to gain the majority in the upper house. In the hapless state Assembly, a number of moderate GOP incumbents put up anemic lobbyist-fueled numbers, while their conservative challengers posted sufficient figures to be considered credible and viable.
The really bright light for the right is conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore. At $85,000 raised, Fiore — a hell-raiser who earned the best overall conservative voting record in the 2013 session — eclipsed that raised even by Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey.
Take note, GOP candidates … it pays, literally, to stand on your principles and rock the boat. All in all, good signs in the preprimary money primary for Republicans. Now if only they can refrain from their addiction to never blowing an opportunity to blow an opportunity.
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grass-roots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.muthstruths.com.