The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Fear And Loathing In Reno: What I Saw At The Nevada State GOP Convention

Posted on | May 16, 2016 | 19 Comments

— by Wombat-socho

It all started at the chaotic Clark County Republican convention back in April, which I attended as an alternate from my precinct and wound up leaving early so I didn’t miss too much of a Saturday in the tax mines. Shortly before my departure, volunteers for the Cruz campaign encouraged me to self-nominate for the state convention, so I filled out the paperwork and didn’t think anything of it…until three weeks later when I got an e-mail while in Minnesota visiting friends and family. Clark County is entitled to something like two thousand delegates to the state convention, since it’s the largest county in Nevada by both acreage and population, and much like every other year, they have problems assembling a full slate of delegates. That’s how I wound up being selected. So after asking folks to hit the tip jar, I looked into accommodations and quickly rejected the Atlantis since the rate for Saturday night was $179. Since I was planning on driving up, I had some flexibility, and used Priceline to get a room three blocks from the convention center at the Days Inn. The rest of the month was spent trying to save as much cash as possible for what promised to be anything but a cheap weekend in the second city of the Silver State.

As luck would have it, I had an appointment with the VA Friday morning of the convention, and didn’t get more than a couple hours sleep Thursday night, so the drive up to Reno via US 95 was more than a little harrowing. 95 starts as a would-be Interstate in Las Vegas, but around Indian Springs turns into a two-lane blacktop with a 70 mph speed limit except when passing through half-abandoned towns like Tonopah, Beatty, Luning, and Hawthorne which reminded me entirely too much of the bitter James McMurtry song “We Can’t Make It Here“. Between those towns, it’s all dozens of miles of scrubland and desert surrounded by mountains, exactly the sort of country described by Hunter S. Thompson in the opening to Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas. Eventually I got to the Days Inn, managed to stand up and walk in to get my room, and discovered on unpacking that I’d grabbed the wrong AC adapter for my laptop. The nearby Office Max was closed, and in my excessively fatigued state I completely forgot that I’d passed a Walmart on the way to the hotel. I gave up, hit the local Del Taco for a couple of burritos, and crashed hard.

The next morning, I rose and promptly motored over to the Walmart, where I picked up some Atkins bars and a recharger for the laptop before getting breakfast at McDonald’s and heading up to the Atlantis, where I parked and hedged my bets (the lot had plenty of signs warning people that parking for the convention center was prohibited) by applying for a players’ card and spending a few minutes on a video poker machine absorbing coffee while losing a dollar and change. I then made my way over to the convention center via the sky bridge, arriving a little after the announced start time of 9 AM to find that the convention still hadn’t been called to order. It’s worth noting that the state party did a lot better job of organizing than the Clark County committee; I was quickly checked in, given my delegate badge, and issued a hand-held electronic voting machine which got quite a workout over the course of the day. One other thing was obvious: the supporters of Donald Trump were present in huge numbers, many of them wearing “101% Trump” T-shirts or other such apparel along with buttons and other devices proclaiming their fealty to the prospective nominee. No representatives of the other campaigns were present, or visible if they were, although there were several tables for groups like the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. For that matter, there weren’t that many candidates for Federal or State office visibly present, except for Congressman Joe Heck, running to replace Harry Reid in the Senate. Heck was unfortunately not present due to Army Reserve obligations, though his challengers, Sharron Angle and Lee Hamilton were and did little to impress.

The prevailing mood was one of anger, not just at the Washington establishment but with Governor Sandoval (who was absent) and a bloc of nominally Republican state legislators who had joined with the minority Democrats to push through a gross receipts tax, and a motion to amend one of the resolutions to call for a condemnation of the RINOs responsible came very close to passing. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. If you want a blow-by-blow review of what happened, search the hashtag #FearAndLoathingInReno on Twitter; I’m just going to hit the high points here so you won’t be here all day. The high points of the morning were convention chairman Bob Morin and Joe Heck (via video) calling for party unity against Hillary, which calls were very well received; not so well received was a speaker from the AARP calling for reform of Social Security, who was loudly heckled from the floor. Clearly I wasn’t the only one who remembered how the AARP had ganged up with the Democrats to sabotage Bush the Younger’s feeble attempt to semi-privatize Social Security by letting part of new contributions be put in IRAs. Arizona GOP chair Robert Graham also appeared and gave a rousing unity speech, calling for the party to unite behind Trump and stop Hillary. The rest of the day was spent on electing delegates to the national convention, electors, and committeeman/committeewoman to the RNC. An interesting aspect to the latter is that the Nevada GOP bylaws prohibit the committeeman and committeewoman from being from the same county, so since all the committeewoman nominees were from Clark County, four aspiring committeemen from Clark County were removed from the ballot. Generally speaking, the Trump folks had it their own way here, securing most of the at-large delegate seats and a good chunk of the congressional district delegates as well. The exception seemed to be my own NV-1, where an informal slate led by Amy TarkentonTarkanian largely prevailed over the official Trump slate. This pretty much wrapped up the business for Saturday, and around 6:35 the convention adjourned for cocktails. I skipped the cocktails and went back to the Atlantis, where I spent some more time (and 44 cents) on video poker before heading back to the hotel via the Carl’s Jr. across the street, where I picked up the half-pound bacon guacamole thickburger and a salad, because I’d earned it.

While I was live-tweeting the goings-on at our convention, I was also amusing nearby delegates by relaying news of the shambolic chaos at the Nevada Democratic state convention, which was going on at the same time down at the Paris Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. As most of you know by now, the Democrats got thrown out of the Paris at 10 PM Saturday night after a day full of protests by Sandernistas, who (correctly) felt they’d been robbed by the pro-Hillary convention chair, who forced through a rules change before most of the delegates had even checked in, a change that resulted in most delegates being awarded to Hillary Clinton despite the Sanders faction having played the game by the rules and actually obtained most of the state’s delegates.

Unfortunately, when I got back to the hotel I discovered that the recharger I’d bought at Walmart that morning was a larger version of the Anker recharger I had for my phone, and not useful for running the laptop at all, which is why you’re reading this now and not on Saturday night. Gave up, finished reading Jean Larteguy’s The Centurions, and went to bed.

In the morning, not having slept well, I was slow and logy and didn’t manage to get out, get breakfast, and get to the convention until ten A.M., an hour after the announced start time. It didn’t matter because the convention wasn’t called to order until around 10:15. The rest of the day was spent wrangling over resolutions and the platform, with the most interesting parts being the aforementioned attempt to officially condemn the RINOs who had voted for the commerce tax, interminable arguments over the precise wording of a resolution regarding control over land administered by the BLM, and an attempt to replace the platform committee’s product with a much shorter (and therefore conforming to the rules) one-page platform that struck me as being pretty close to the ideal Libertarian Republican platform. The latter failed, unfortunately, and most of the delegates present went with the committee’s product and its preamble, which contained language calling for equal treatment without regard to sexual orientation that annoyed many folks. At that point, the convention moved on to endorsements – it is apparently the practice in Nevada for the state convention to do pre-primary endorsements instead of having local party orgs do this – and since I had no idea who most of these people were nor whether they were even running in my district, I decided to head on home, since it was 2:30 PM and I’d be lucky to be home by 11:30. Which is pretty much the way it went; the drive home in the late afternoon and evening was much more pleasant than the drive up from Las Vegas, and when I got home, I immediately found the missing AC adapter on the bookshelf in my bedroom.

(Thanks to @ThePoliticalHat for providing useful background throughout the convention via Twitter.)

Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
Fear And Loathing On The Campaign Trail ’72


19 Responses to “Fear And Loathing In Reno: What I Saw At The Nevada State GOP Convention”

  1. Mike
    May 16th, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

    Well, it’s like they say, “Any convention you can walk away from is a good one!”

  2. RS
    May 16th, 2016 @ 7:55 pm

    I’ve loved Nevada the multiple times I have been there. All of those have been in Elko and White Pine counties backpacking. The Ruby Mountains, Great Basin N.P., Jarbidge Wilderness all kick ass and are worth a visit.

  3. Finrod Felagund
    May 16th, 2016 @ 9:36 pm

    I have read that there are proposals to take the planned Interstate 11 that’s going to run from Las Vegas to Phoenix and extend it further both north and south: south to the Mexican border, and north to Reno and perhaps points beyond.

  4. ubik
    May 16th, 2016 @ 10:02 pm

    I have to say I admire anyone willing to join, be part of that civic America that De Toqueville wrote about. So many of us are too busy for family, God, community. WWII had it’s heroes, but you are just a notch below. Yeah, not. But thank you for performing a duty most of us won’t make time for. You are a Citizen!

  5. mole
    May 16th, 2016 @ 10:46 pm

    So they predict anarchy from the “right”
    But it happens on the “left”


    I swear one day the presstitutes will get it right and there will be an actual violent “tea party” incident, until then they will just have to stay quiet about the habitual violence on the left.

  6. Joseph Fein
    May 16th, 2016 @ 11:31 pm

    Great job Wombat!

    The more Bloggers that enter the Party structure, the better they become. (Speaking as a Central Committee member from L.A. and a delegate to the CAGOP)

  7. Wombat_socho
    May 17th, 2016 @ 1:30 am

    I’d be much in favor of extending it north to Reno, or at least to Fallon where it could hook up with Interstate 80. Problem is, if they ran it through Tonopah, Beatty, etc. they’d rip what’s left of those towns to shreds, and if they bypassed them, it might have the same ill effects.

  8. Wombat_socho
    May 17th, 2016 @ 1:31 am

    I may complain occasionally about the enormity of the desolate wastes outside Las Vegas (and sometimes within it) but it definitely has a beauty of its own.

  9. Wombat_socho
    May 17th, 2016 @ 1:32 am

    Several notches, but thank you. Everybody should get involved in precinct caucuses and their local party orgs as much as possible, because it’s too hard to affect things from outside the party.

  10. Wombat_socho
    May 17th, 2016 @ 1:33 am

    I daresay if there is a violent Tea Party incident, it’s going to be a reaction to some nonsense started by the Black Bloc, BLM, or other “radicals” who don’t understand who they’re messing with.

  11. Bob Belvedere
    May 17th, 2016 @ 7:09 am

    Thank you for the report, Wombaticus.

    Bob Belvedere,
    Former Republican

  12. Eric Ashley
    May 17th, 2016 @ 7:26 am

    Laugh. You and I would have pretty much the same method in securing parking, and in your choice of games and the minimal money spent.

    I like, the few times I’ve been, the nickel video poker games. If its pure chance, a gambling game tends to be boring.

    Too bad the RINOS weren’t slammed, and the perverts were praised.

  13. Adjoran
    May 17th, 2016 @ 8:00 am

    Ditto – but I’m staying until the last dog dies on the roll call in Cleveland. Keep hope alive!

  14. Finrod Felagund
    May 17th, 2016 @ 8:16 am

    Yeah, towns like that would have to cope with being an exit off an interstate instead of having all the traffic coming through the town, which is a tough transition to make. The only saving grace would be that these towns are literally the only thing for tens of miles in any direction (I’m guessing anyways, looking at Google Maps) so maybe it might not be as bad as some bypassed towns in the past have had it.

  15. Wombat_socho
    May 17th, 2016 @ 5:46 pm

    You’re not wrong. For a good part of the drive, those towns are fifty to a hundred miles apart, and at my age, I’m damn glad to be able to get out and stretch my legs a bit before tackling the next stretch.

  16. NutJobsEverywhere
    May 18th, 2016 @ 4:58 am

    Nye County, not Clark County is the geographically largest in Nevada, and the 3rd largest in the US.

  17. Wombat_socho
    May 18th, 2016 @ 5:17 am

    Yes, but nobody lives there. Well, almost nobody.

  18. News of the Week (May 22nd, 2016) | The Political Hat
    May 22nd, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

    […] Fear And Loathing In Reno: What I Saw At The Nevada State GOP Convention It all started at the chaotic Clark County Republican convention back in April, which I attended as an alternate from my precinct and wound up leaving early so I didn’t miss too much of a Saturday in the tax mines. Shortly before my departure, volunteers for the Cruz campaign encouraged me to self-nominate for the state convention, so I filled out the paperwork and didn’t think anything of it…until three weeks later when I got an e-mail while in Minnesota visiting friends and family. […]

  19. Fear And Loathing At the Nevada Democratic Convention | The Political Hat
    May 23rd, 2016 @ 2:38 am

    […]      P.S., for a report on what happened at the Nevada Republican Convention, check out the report by Wombat Socho. […]