Nevada GOP: One Big Happy Family, Part III

It’s not easy putting your best game face on when your political party is coming apart like a cheap suit, but three GOP stalwarts tried their best Wedesday morning on “KNPR’s State of Nevada.”

Ian Mylchreest played host to a trio of top Republicans, Assemblyman John Hambrick, Clark County GOP Chairman Bernie Zadrowski, and former Republican National Committee member Joe Brown on the topic of whether their favorite party suffers from an identity crisis.

The short answer was, “Hey, how about them Cubbies?”

They tried to play up the GOP’s elusive “Big Tent” philosophy while essentially saying it was important to send a message that the party was united against tax increases and against federal intervention, etc., etc.

Hambrick focused on his belief that, most of all, the Republicans suffer from a marketing and messaging problem.

Zadrowski admitted the Democrats did a much better job of registering voters and using technology in the past election, but he said those issues are being addressed at party headquarters, where the GOP offers Saturday classes on the best way to use Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet generally.

An extramarital affair by Sen. John Ensign wasn’t good, they allowed, but it was in the past and the Republicans are a forgiving lot when it comes to members of their own party.

“I don’t think we can write John Ensign off by any means,” Brown said.

As for the dregs popularity of Gov. Jim Gibbons and the fact he faces two announced primary challengers, well, whether that’s a good thing is for the voters to decide.

Given the daily pummeling Gibbons receives in the press, Brown said, “It would be a shock if he had good ratings.”

Hambrick defended the governor’s no-new-taxes pledge. Xadrowski said, “The Governor has really turned a corner in the last month or so,” meaning that in a good way, that Gibbons’ popularity appeared to be rising within his own ranks. (Not so much that it’s scared away Joe Heck and Michael Montandon, apparently.) “He does very, very well when he’s out there with the folks.”

When he’s off the stump and sitting behind his big desk in Carson City is what worries me.

Meanwhile conservative activist Chuck Muth, who arguably maintains the highest profile of any Nevada conservative these days, told NPR’s "All Things Considered," “If shooting yourself in the foot was an Olympic event, (Ensign would) be a gold medalist. … The problem here is it was with a staffer — somebody who was paid, on your payroll — and that is raising a lot more questions — serious questions — about the propriety of this and that’s one of the problems, why I think you’re not seeing a lot of Republicans jumping to the senator’s defense. They’re worried there are other shoes yet to drop.”

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