State Republicans need new leadership

State Republicans need new leadership

State Republicans need new leadership

Nevada Republicans meet in Winnemucca Sept. 7 to elect our leaders for the 2020 campaign.  

We need to turn Nevada red for two reasons: 1) to help re-elect Donald Trump president; and 2) to win enough legislative seats to assure the 2021 redistricting will be a fair process, not another Democrat gerrymandering riot.

Our current leadership is not up to the task.

I say that primarily in sorrow, because all those people have been long-time good friends of mine.  There are pictures of chairman Michael McDonald and me sharing man-hugs.  Vice-chairman Jim DeGraffenreid and his wife Teresa have been long-time friends of our family and eaten dinner at our home.  Secretary Barbara Hawn and her family have all been long-time friends with whom I’ve shared many enjoyable times.

But their poor track record in fundraising and building the county and state party organizations have led to a series of defeats across the board and no prospect of getting better.  So, I’ve answered the call of many concerned and thoughtful people to join an outstanding new leadership team of limited-government conservatives who can reverse those trends and lead us to victory in 2021.

Those people include Michael Kadenacy, Sr., the former highly successful international lawyer and business executive whose leadership team has ended the perpetual turmoil that long engulfed the Washoe County party.  His plan emphasized finding not people who use party positions as stepping stones, but instead have strong skills for their positions and great work ethics.  They’ve raised lots of local money and turned their county red again.

Also, David Sajdak, the new and dynamic leader of the Clark County Republicans.  After years of turmoil and failed leadership, his team has come in and righted their ship.  They’re going to school on the Washoe County successes, as are some of the rural counties – tailoring the methods of Washoe to their situations and adding their own innovations.  David has weathered ridiculous attacks on himself and his family with courage and grace.

George Harris, long one of the strongest Republican leaders in Clark County, publisher of Liberty Watch magazine, and a highly successful business executive and GOP leader and fundraiser, is another.  George served valiantly at various times in the 1990s as Clark County GOP chair and finance chief, successfully courting the business community, raising unprecedented amounts of money and making the GOP relevant again in Clark.  He’s a force of nature and still a party leader.

And Bob Beers, former Assemblyman and State Senator, Los Vegas City Council member and state party leader.  When Bob and I served together in the 2003 Assembly, we were leaders of the Mean 15 who stopped the gross receipts tax.  Bob’s one of the most beloved and respected leaders of the party around the state, and as savvy and knowledgeable as anyone in politics.

The five of us and Annie Black, who will lead our team, have had meetings with major business leaders who used to contribute to the state and county parties but no longer do.  We laid out detailed business plans to resuscitate and empower the county parties and to rescue the state party.

They were duly impressed, but said that to them and to most Nevadans, as long as McDonald is state chairman, he’s the face of the party and the problem, and they will not resume contributing, except to a few specific candidates.  (I’ve been fortunate to have some of their support in the past.)  When a good replacement is elected, the support will resume.

Who is Annie Black?  Annie is a 38-year successful businesswoman and mother of two model teenage boys.  She’s a member of the Mesquite City Council who ran a strong campaign last year to win as almost all southern Nevada Republicans were defeated.  She’s been a leader for years in GOP women’s groups and is a member of the Clark county central committee.  She has arranged to mostly step away from her business for a few years to devote the time required to be state chair.

The other outstanding team member is Diane Baranowski of Reno, currently chairing the Nevada Republican Women Federated.  With years of experience, she’s known for dedication and skill.

Ron Knecht has served Nevada as state controller, a higher education regent, college teacher, legislator and economist.  Contact him at