By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
Sig Rogich, an adviser to Presidents Reagan and George H. W. Bush and who has been considered a ‘kingmaker’ of Nevada politics, said on Nevada Newsmakers that the Nevada Republican Party should lose its current chairman and undergo a financial audit.
“The first thing they (Nevada Republicans) should do is get rid of their state chairman,” Rogich told host Sam Shad. “He is not capable of running this operation any more. I mean Michael McDonald, primarily.”
McDonald has been the state GOP chair since 2012. Under his guidance, the GOP dominated the 2014 election cycle, sweeping three of four seats in the U.S. House, all constitutional offices of state government and the majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
Fast forward to the present and Nevada Republicans have just one party member in the U.S. House, one constitutional officer and have lost majorities in both houses of the Legislature.
Also, the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate has won Nevada three times since McDonald has been state GOP chair.
“I think it has just passed him by,” Rogich said of McDonald. “And I think you need some really good business minds in there that run it like a business.”
McDonald, however, remains in good standing with former President Donald Trump. Trump made an open endorsement of McDonald as the Nevada GOP chair recently, according to 360 News Las Vegas. Trump reportedly called McDonald, ‘my friend.”
An audit of the current state GOP might improve fund-raising for future election battles, said Rogich, the former ambassador to Iceland and founded Nevada’s largest advertising and consultancy firm, R&R Advertising, in 1974.
“I think they should audit the RNC here, the state organization,” Rogich said. “I’m not sure they have ever had a forensic audit but I think they need to have one.
“The perceptions are bad and as a result, you are not getting contributions because people aren’t easy about giving money if they don’t know if it is going to the right place or not,” Rogich said.
McDonald was a member of the Las Vegas City Council from 1995 to 2003. Although he was never charged with a crime, McDonald was implicated in ethics investigations, a tax fraud inquiry, and an FBI sting operation during his time on the city council, according to published reports.
Rogich is backing Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo for governor in 2022.
Other declared GOP candidates include North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, Reno attorney and former boxer Joey Gilbert and surgeon Fred Simon.
Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House District Rep. Mark Amodei has also expressed an interest. Former U.S. Sen. Dean Heller could also run, according to a published report.
Rogich says he likes Lombardo because he already has experience as a CEO of a complex government operation, having run the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department since 2014.
“People say, ‘Well, is a policeman the right person to run for governor?’ Rogich said. “I can’t think of a better one, especially a sheriff because they are running their own government.
“They have got to be psychologists, they’ve got to understand the nuances of dealing with minorities and the issues related to that,” Rogich said. “They’ve got to deal with labor unions all the time. They gotta deal with keeping people safe, which I think the governor should foremost try to do — make sure we protect the population in our state. They’ve got meetings everyday where they have to deal with the media. They have to deal with crisis, and like we’re seeing today, reform within the police department.
“Who is better qualified than a sheriff to be governor in today’s world?” Rogich continued. “Now we’re talking about police reform. Who better to have sitting there, who understands we shouldn’t be doing certain things, than a sheriff who had to run a police department all of those years?
“And scandal free, I might add,” Rogich said.
Rogich said the “stop-and-start policies” of current Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak during the Covid epidemic hampered Nevada’s resort industry and could become a gubernatorial campaign issue in 2022.
Sisolak first ordered casinos shuttered in March of 2020 and they remained closed until June. When reopened, the state-mandated capacity roller-coastered from 50 to 25 percent, then back up to 50 percent.
“There is a little unrest in the industry because of the start-and-stop policies of this governor,” Rogich said. “You didn’t know what was coming up next and it was almost weekly that it changed. The perceptions were bad and the start-and-stop probably cost as much money as anything. Think about it. You’ve got to gear up and then all of a sudden, things change again.”