HomeUS News updateNevada Democrats implode over battle for party control

Nevada Democrats implode over battle for party control

A fierce power struggle has erupted over who will drive the Democratic Party in Nevada, a key 2024 battleground that determined the balance of the Senate last year.

And it’s getting ugly.

The resignation of the sitting chair is being demanded. There are allegations that Judith Whitmer, the chair of the Democratic Party, contracted aides. Both sides have accused each other of creating a divide in the party.

And new documents obtained by NBC News demonstrate the depth of the division and how it played out in the run-up to one of the closest Senate races in the country.

Whitmer, part of the slate of Democratic Socialists who will head the party in March 2021 Now fighting to stay afloat ahead of her March 4 re-election, where she faces a challenge from Nevada State Assemblywoman Danielle Monroe-Moreno.

“They are launching a smear campaign against me personally,” Whitmer said in an interview with NBC News.

A central part of the drama over Whitmer’s tenure has been the decision of a group of past party leaders A few months after taking office, he broke away from his control and formed a rival Democratic entity in Washoe County called Nevada Democratic Victory. It essentially became a shadow party apparatus with allies tied to more established Democrats in the state, including Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jackie Rosen.

Now, internal party documents obtained by NBC News reveal how heated the fight had become and what steps the party structure controlled by Whitmer took to get back into that faction.

The documents outline a pressure campaign, including the party’s desire to turn over its senator, before an ultimately abandoned plan to split Washoe County Democrats from the state party. In-spite of this A tight re-election race that year was key to Democratic control of the Senate.

In an apparent reference to Cortez Masto one of the lists read in the document, “Uncover loyalists on CCM et al”.

The January 2022 document, titled “Washoe Week Timeline”, laid out a day-to-day plan to mount a media relations campaign in an attempt to force Washoe County Democrats to operate under the state party’s power structure. Made it It also considered a legal avenue for de-chartering the group, which would mean it would no longer be affiliated with the state party and would hinder how Nevada Democratic Victory can raise and spend money. .

The document states, “Subjects for communication (i.e. we are saving the existence of the party from being taken over by a rogue county committee) All attempts to work with elected officials failed because NDV and CCM did not allow them to join us.” Told not to talk.)” . Then, ticking off the names of elected officials including then-governor, Steve Sisolak, the notes said, “Can we write 25 loyal [sic] Email CCM, Sisolak, Ford, Yeager, Nichol on why they are dividing the party.

In the end, Whitmer’s group did not execute the plan. But the document exemplifies deep divisions within a party at war with itself and stoked tensions after it lost its bid for power in 2021 to a slate of Democratic Socialists.

Both Whitmer and a party spokesman confirmed the documents, but said they reflected a memoir of a conversation with a lawyer, for which the party had responsibility but no oversight.

Still, establishment Democrats allege the state party worked against them several times in last year’s midterms, including endorsing a primary challenger to the current lieutenant governor.

“The state party creates additional challenges for the governor’s re-election,” Molly Forge, Steve Sisolak’s former deputy campaign manager, said in a statement to NBC News. “He actively worked against a coordinated campaign supported by elected officials and national committees, campaigned against a governor-appointed lieutenant governor, and used his limited resources to pay off his aides rather than turn out Democratic voters. ”

Sisolak lost re-election for governor. He was the only governor to lose re-election in 2022. A senior aide to his running mate, former lieutenant governor Lisa Cano Burkhead, echoed Forgie’s sentiment.

Martin Fitzgerald, a former senior advisor to Birkhead’s campaign, said, “Chair Whitmer not only actively worked against our campaign by publicly endorsing our primary challenger, but she also actively participated in funding campaign ads in support of our opponent.” also diverted vital state party resources to the a statement. “These actions alone are disqualifying and demonstrate a willingness to put their own interests ahead of a united Democratic Party.”

Whitmer disputed allegations that she attempted to undermine a coordinated campaign run by Nevada Democratic Victory and specifically dismissed the notion that she had worked against Cortez Masto.

“That’s awful to hear. I haven’t worked against them,” Whitmer said.

She said the documents reflected notes taken by a former employee and that she did not remember plotting against Cortez Masto.

“We were talking about what steps need to be taken for the security of the state party based on the advice of our lawyers,” she said.

He pointed to the other side for creating division and accused them of being driven by advisers and special interests who want to profit from politics.

But Whitmer’s critics go beyond traditional party insiders; He has also lost the support of some of his early supporters, including local Democratic Socialists and the team of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

Whitmer defended his tenure, saying that he worked diligently to reduce ballot candidates and votes in rural counties.

Whitmer has also come under scrutiny for contracts awarded to Clark County President Chris Roberts, a supporter who also identifies as a Democratic Socialist. Whitmer has said that the contracts were for legitimate data and technical services.

Democrats critical of Whitmer have questioned both Roberts’ competence and his commitment to party leaders other than Whitmer, pointing to a comment he made hours before the polls closed on Election Day last year.

At the time, he told NBC News, “I don’t think the numbers are there” for Cortez Masto’s victory. He said his comments were based on the party’s data expert modeling “every scenario”.

The projection did not match other data models, and ultimately Cortez Masto won by less than 8,000 votes.

The Cortez Masto campaign was worried. In one of the closest Senate races in the country that ultimately determined the balance of the Senate, a Democrat in Nevada was announcing to the media that the senator no longer had a path to victory. According to an aide, that was not the way his campaign was seeing it at the time.

In an interview, Roberts said that the back and forth between the parties “made mistakes on both sides.”

“It’s very embarrassing,” he said.



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