Candidate pays price for ruffling GOP feathers

Victorious Republicans and tea party supporters sang their version of “Let’s Work Together” Thursday, but someone forgot to send Cindy Lake a copy of the lyrics.

Lake, a conservative Republican, nearly knocked off incumbent Democrat Mary Beth Scow in the Clark County Commission District G race Tuesday despite a staggering fundraising disadvantage. Commission races provided one of few bright spots for Nevada Democrats this year.

Wait a minute, you say. Isn’t this the Year of the Republican? Don’t Republican candidates have access to a pipeline of big-money donors from Nevada and elsewhere? Isn’t Las Vegas Sands Chairman and Republican Party sugar daddy Sheldon Adelson headquartered on the Strip, where casino bosses have historically had faithful-as-a-retriever commission members on speed dial?

And wouldn’t the election of a registered Republican to the commission, something not seen since 2004, have been in keeping with the GOP’s brutal drubbing of the Democrats in 2014?

Sure. But that’s what makes Lake’s campaign so telling. And the lack of support she received so petty.

In a race where nearly 58,000 votes were cast, Scow won by 1,026. She raised nearly $624,000 as of the Oct. 30 reporting deadline (and a substantial amount more yet to be reported, I hear.) Lake, a local real estate agent, raised under $19,000.

“She already had $300,000 before we even started,” Lake says, noting that even the Sands helped her opponent. “I just knew that, dollar-for-dollar, we wouldn’t be able to compete.”

Of course, it would have been nice to get a little help. She focused on grass roots and won the Republican primary, but she soon realized her own party bosses weren’t going to warm up to her.

“I wasn’t only up against an incumbent, but against the Republican establishment,” she says, keeping her sense of humor. “There was absolutely nothing in the way of contributions because of my history.”

Ah, her history.

Lake was part of the small and prickly cadre of Ron Paul enthusiasts who thoroughly flummoxed their mainstream Nevada counterparts during the 2012 campaign. When the Republican National Convention rolled around, the atmosphere inside the Nevada delegation got downright revolutionary. You know, in an Abbott &Costello kind of way.

At a time when the entire convention center in Tampa, Fla., was attempting to get fired up over the prospects of a Mitt Romney presidential candidacy, Nevada’s recalcitrant Paul loyalists fiercely defended their libertarian legend. They talked of a convention coup and made a lot of noise.

But mostly they just talked and gave opposing delegates a case of hives. On national television, their attempted coup wound up looking like just another snippet of convention chaos. It violated conventional protocol and made it appear Nevada Republicans were fighting over the political steering wheel, but it was all pretty harmless.

After some embarrassing headlines, the issue was over in the media. But obviously the folks who manipulate the Republican Party in Nevada these days didn’t forget. Far from it.

When Lake, whose record of attendance at commission meetings is better than some of the elected officials, decided to challenge Scow, she received the “Ice Station Zebra” treatment from the Strip’s big checkbooks.

Maybe it was because all the conservative operators on Las Vegas Boulevard were simply tickled with Scow’s consummate professionalism and remarkable dedication to duty that they shut out Lake in the Year of the Republican. Yeah, and maybe Elvis makes a comeback on New Year’s Eve.

Republicans and tea partyers gathered Thursday at The Venetian to celebrate their victory and call for party unity. Scheduled speakers included Sal Russo of the Tea Party Express.

“I like being a thorn in the establishment’s side,” Lake says. “There is a message that needs to be heard out there. I think the biggest message is that both parties are really in essence the same.”

Lake wasn’t surprised that she wasn’t invited to join the newly assembled choir. She knows she’s paying the price for singing off key.

ON THE BOULEVARD: Contract killer Steve Homick, one of the most violent criminals in Las Vegas history, died peacefully in San Quentin. Look for my column on the “Ninja killer” soon.

BOULEVARD II: A shake-up this week at the Latin Chamber of Commerce with multiple resignations submitted. Maybe someone will find out why it really had to take out a credit line on its own building. … A Newt Gingrich sighting at The Venetian during election week.

BOULEVARD III: The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Foundation is ramping up for its annual Angel Tree toy drive for hundreds of foster kids in Clark County. To help: 702-361-4216 or CasaFoundationLV.org.

Have an item for the Bard of the Boulevard? Email comments and contributions to Smith@reviewjournal.com or call 702-383-0295. Follow him on Twitter @jlnevadasmith.

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