By Ray Hagar, Nevada Newsmakers
The Democratic sweep of seats in the Nevada Assembly in the 2016 election was devastating to Republicans, who saw their majority in the 2015 Legislature washed away in the “blue wave” that hit Nevada.
Yet, to the GOP’s Minority Floor Leader Paul Anderson, the game was a lot closer than the scoreboard showed — Democrats 27 (seats), Republicans 15.
“We just ran up against, simply, a blue tide in this state,” Anderson said on Nevada Newsmakers Wednesday morning. “It ran red across the United States but it stopped here in Nevada.”
Anderson said the GOP has the opportunity to retake the majority for the 2019 legislative session. Yet he conceded he has no control over one of the biggest factors deciding that.
“I don’t know what the national landscape will be like and I think that will have a big impact, right?” Anderson said after taping the Newsmakers segment.
It may all come down to President Trump.
“Mid terms (elections) for the party in power are not always beneficial,” Anderson said. “But I think that depends on who defines what is great on the national level.
“If there are a lot of angst, and disgruntled voters, I don’t think it will be good for us,” he said. “If he (Trump) comes through on some of the promises and doesn’t leave states high and dry when it comes to the ACA and the funding sources for those things, there may be a great opportunity for us.”
The Democrats’ Assembly election sweep in 2016 came within one seat of capturing a two-thirds super majority. Yet for Anderson, it could have ended up with the Democrats possibly holding a just 22-20 advantage because of thin margins in some of the races.
“The reality is if we had about 1,500 votes that we could spread around five districts and swung the other way, we would have more people in the Assembly on the Republican side,” Anderson said.
“For example, Jill Dickman’s district, (Democrat) Skip Daly won by 36 votes. (Republican incumbent) Stephen Silberkraus (lost by) 105 votes. (Republican) Art Ham against Brittney Miller, again, (lost by) under 200 votes. Each of those main districts we lost, were under 1/2 percent, in districts that leans 5, 6, 7, up to 9 percent Democratic. So we made some significant headway in Democratic districts.”
It’s tough, competing against Nevada’s Democrats, Anderson said.
“There are just some advantages there that we don’t have,” Anderson said. “We don’t have a Culinary Union that I can pick up in buses and take to the polls. So I have to find different ways to get folks to the polls and vote for us.”
The Nevada Democratic Party, helped by former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, has traditionally been more organized and better funded than the Nevada Republican Party.
The state party is a factor, Anderson said, adding that the Assembly Republicans had their own strategies for the election.
“We didn’t have that extra support that certainly the Democrats do,” he said. “We have built out a growth and opportunity project inside the Assembly that was a path to success when it came to holding and maintaining the majority. That program is successful. We had 225 employees by the end of the election cycle — knocking on doors, making phone calls — on top of the volunteers that we doing that for us as well. We had a tremendous force out there.
“Had we had a party on top of that, working towards our efforts, I think we would have seen more success,” he said.
“But that said, I can’t control the top of the ticket,” Anderson said. “All I can control are the races that we are in. We performed better than the (state) senators we were nested under, when you count raw vote totals. We had some folks vote on top of the ticket, skip a couple of races and vote for their assemblyman or assemblywoman. And I think that is key and points to some of the success we had.”
Anderson ended on a positive note about the 2018 mid-term elections.
“There’s no prize for second place in these games and that is the reality that we deal with,” he said. “However, I think we have set the stage for success in 2018.”