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GOP spark plug Engage Nevada gets new president

Jack St. Martin on Wednesday was named president of Engage Nevada, a group that registered more than 30,000 conservative voters to fuel a Republican election wave that put the GOP in charge of state government and the Legislature.

St. Martin replaces Chris Carr, who led Engage Nevada through the 2014 election. In February, Carr was rewarded when the Republican National Committee made him political director for the 2016 presidential election cycle.

A top-tier GOP strategist, St. Martin also has worked for the RNC in several capacities. He’s leaving his job as Nevada director of Americans for Prosperity to take the Engage Nevada post.

St. Martin said he planned to pursue Engage Nevada’s successful model of focusing on conservative voters in Nevada, whether they’re Republicans, Democrats, libertarians or independents.

“We’re going to keep doing what we’ve been doing because it’s working,” St. Martin said in an interview.

In announcing the new job, St. Martin said, “Engage Nevada has changed the game in our state. They are a first tier organization and I am proud to join such an effective team.”

The nonpartisan organization, in many ways, has been doing the job of the Nevada Republican Party, which has been sidelined by the top GOP politicians in Nevada after it was taken over a few years ago by supporters of Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman who twice ran for president, in 2008 and 2012.

GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval relies on his own political operation, which helped Republicans take control of the state Senate in the 2014 election, gaining a slim 11-10 seat majority over Democrats. At the same time, the GOP also gained majority control of the Assembly, 25 seats to 17 seats held by Democrats.

Republicans also won all the top state constitutional offices, including governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, controller and treasurer. The last time the GOP controlled all of Nevada government was in 1929.

Engage Nevada, which isn’t allowed to coordinate with the state party, campaigns or candidates, focused on building up a voter registration edge to get more conservative voters to the polls in a low-turnout midterm election.

For the Nov. 4 election, Democrats had 62,036 more registered voters than Republicans statewide in Nevada, but Democrats turned out in lower numbers than GOP voters. At the same time, nonpartisan voter rolls grew to 233,245, with a majority of them leaning Republican, according to GOP operatives engaged in voter registration.

Joe Catania, a co-founder of Engage Nevada and board member, said St. Martin’s experience “will be an incredible benefit to our ongoing mission. Most of all, we are excited to continue the important work of registering conservative voters in the state of Nevada.”

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

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