The Nevada Democratic Party’s capture by the Bernie world veers badly off track


The Nevada Democratic Party's capture by the Bernie world veers badly off track

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Sunday, February 26, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090


In the lead-up to the 2020 US presidential elections, the Nevada Democratic Party faced a crisis when the Bernie Sanders campaign began to exert significant influence over its operations.

  • Judith Whitmer, the rebellious party chair who took over the party from the Democrats in power, is running for reelection next month.

  • Steve Sisolak.

  • Kara Hall, a leader of the Democratic Socialists of America in Las Vegas, says Whitmer hasn’t kept in touch with the left.

  • Whitmer said that the DSA was against electoral politics.

  • The disappointment with Whitmer has made it hard to predict what will happen to the Nevada Democratic Party, but it has also raised more significant questions.

The Nevada Democratic Party capture by the Bernie world referred to the significant influence that the Sanders campaign had over the party’s decision-making processes. This influence was apparent in the party’s choice of staff and the policies it promoted, which often aligned with Sanders’ progressive agenda.

The Nevada Democratic Party has been making headlines lately for all the wrong reasons. The once-respected organization, which was once a model for other state parties, has veered off track under the control of the Bernie Sanders wing of the Democratic Party. Here are some subheadings to help break down this issue:

The Bernie Sanders takeover on the Nevada Democratic Party

After Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, he and his supporters turned their attention to taking over state parties across the country. One of their biggest successes was in Nevada, where they managed to gain control of the state party apparatus in 2017.

Mismanagement and infighting

Since the Sanders wing took over the party, there have been numerous reports of mismanagement and infighting. There have been accusations of harassment and intimidation of party officials who are seen as not sufficiently aligned with the Sanders agenda. Many top staff have left or been forced out, leading to a significant brain drain and loss of institutional knowledge.

Failure to deliver results

Despite the Sanders wing’s promises to deliver electoral victories and a more progressive Democratic Party in Nevada, they have largely failed to deliver on these promises. The party suffered a major defeat in the 2020 elections, losing ground in both state and federal races. This has led to a growing sense of disillusionment among many Democrats in Nevada.

The impact on national politics

The problems in the Nevada Democratic Party have broader implications for national politics. The party’s failure to deliver results in Nevada could be a warning sign for the Democratic Party as a whole, which is struggling to find a path forward after a series of disappointing election cycles. The infighting and toxicity within the Nevada Democratic Party could also hurt the party’s chances in other states, as well as in national elections.

Calls for change

In response to the problems within the Nevada Democratic Party, there have been calls for change from both within and outside the party. Some have called for new leadership, while others have called for a return to a more inclusive and pragmatic approach to politics. It remains to be seen whether these calls for change will be heeded, or whether the party will continue down its current path.

Judith Whitmer, the rebellious party chair who took over the party from the Democrats in power, is running for reelection next month. Her old supporters are against her because they think she has given up on her progressive values. Even prominent members of the Bernie community, like Sanders himself, have expressed their displeasure and resentment at what has happened.

Someone who knows Sanders’s thoughts said, “The senator is pretty unhappy with Judith’s chairmanship, especially because she hasn’t started a big grassroots movement in the state.” Many of us are saddened by what may have been. That was a big chance for people in the state who voted for Bernie to disprove some people in the establishment. and that hasn’t taken place.

As the critical 2024 election season starts, the Sanders alliance has broken up in Nevada. Also, it has led to more in-depth talks about what the progressive movement should do now that the senator’s career is ending. It has even been suggested that progressives taking over a state party’s apparatus would waste time.

Peter Koltak, a Democratic strategist and former senior counsel for Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign in Nevada, says that the current state party leadership “has just been completely incompetent and unable to do anything important.” Look, there are a lot of well-intentioned activists there, but they don’t know how to construct contemporary campaigns.

Speaking about a meeting she had with Sanders earlier this year, Whitmer claimed in an interview that she was surprised by Sanders’ displeasure: “I think he would have said to me, ‘Hey Judith, I’m upset by what you’re doing’ if it was genuinely a good comment.”

Yet even for the most upbeat-minded liberal in the state, the progressive movement in Nevada is in a frightening state of chaos as of 2021.

After helping Sanders win the Nevada presidential caucus a year prior, former Sanders aides, Democratic Socialists of America members, and other progressives banded together to elect Whitmer. Sanders participated in the initiative by encouraging people to run for party positions through text messages from his political committee and raising money for the state party. At the time, Whitmer pledged to restructure the state party’s voter turnout initiatives, hold it “accountable to the people,” and work with the national party to make Nevada the first-in-the-nation primary.

Former governor of Nevada Steve Sisolak “lost by a tiny minority,” according to Democrat and Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom. “He could have won if we could have gotten our voter registration or turnout efforts in sooner.”

Whitmer’s triumph wasn’t taken lightly by the state party. People who worked for the party are said to have moved hundreds of thousands of dollars from their accounts to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee right before it was closed as a protest before leaving their jobs. After Whitmer assumed her position, the Reid machine got around the state party and organized a campaign out of a local party in the second-largest county in the state. Authorities believed it was essential because Whitmer lacked a background in winning competitive elections.

Whitmer stated. “There was a lot of reorganizing when we obtained the keys.” Financial resources had been shifted out, and records were missing.

People who disagree with Whitmer, especially those on the progressive left, say she is mostly to blame for any problems. They said she didn’t have enough connections with elected officials, wasn’t good at raising money, didn’t set up the infrastructure she promised for the grassroots organization, and upset party leaders.

They have chastised her for endorsing a sheriff who appeared to favor chokeholds, as well as Debra March, a candidate for lieutenant governor who defeated the incumbent Democratic lieutenant governor, whom the then-Governor had chosen. Steve Sisolak. They also charged her with attempting to rig the state party chair election on March 4 by shunning members of the body that selects the chair, the state central committee.

The only state where the current governor, a Democrat, lost in 2022 was Nevada. Critics of Whitmer point out that Nevada did not receive the top spot in the Democrats’ new presidential nominating calendar in addition to Sisolak’s defeat.

“They had to develop a special coordinated effort, which was confusing for several months.” “And it wasn’t as united as it could have been,” said Democrat and Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who ran against Whitmer in 2021 and supported Sanders. “[Sisolak] lost by a very narrow margin of support. He might have won if we had been able to start our voter registration or turnout operations sooner.

Democratic senators, representatives, and other statewide politicians from the state have endorsed Whitmer’s opponent, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, who is running against her for the position of state chair.

But not only members of the establishment have complaints. Kara Hall, a leader of the Democratic Socialists of America in Las Vegas, says Whitmer hasn’t kept in touch with the left. After being chosen, Hall claimed, “She never once spoke out or engaged the chapter.”

The Las Vegas Democratic Socialists of America, instrumental in Whitmer’s victory two years ago, declared this month that they would not support her reelection.

The message stated, “The Democratic Party is a dead end.” This is our lesson, and we hope Marxists everywhere will pay close attention. It’s only a “party” in the name; it’s just a web of megadonors, shady money, cynical consultants, and politicians who do whatever they’re told.

Whitmer defended her record in an interview with POLITICO. She said that she was elected to bring about change, which she did by setting up party infrastructure in rural areas, getting money through small donations, and setting up legislative roundtable meetings. She added that the state party contacted over 1 million voters directly and successfully launched a mailing program for federal candidates.

She claimed that the state party had never made investments in rural areas. We sent computers, printers, and other tools to each rustic county party.

Whitmer said that getting rid of committee members who have missed recent meetings is “normal practice” in response to claims that she was trying to sway the election for the committee chair.

Regarding the state party’s initial support of March for lieutenant governor, she claimed that it occurred when Sisolak’s team informed her that he would not appoint anyone. The governor “never publicly chose to not nominate someone,” according to a source with the Sisolak campaign. Whitmer said the party backed Kevin McMahill for sheriff to “keep extremists out of office.”

Whitmer thinks the criticism she got from her progressive sisters was less because she gave up on her beliefs and more. After all, she chose to work with how things are in politics.

She claimed that they were adamantly opposed to electoral politics. They sought to carry out their activities outside of the existing electoral system. I cannot do it as I am the state party head. Outside of the system itself, I am unable to work. I am a Democratic Party representative. I don’t speak for the DSA.

Whitmer said that the DSA was against electoral politics. Still, Hall, the group’s chairman, refuted this claim by pointing out that the local chapter prioritized electoral research and recruitment. Yet she claimed that, rather than because of Whitmer or even the breakup of their relationship, she now sees the Democratic Party as a dead end.

She said Whitmer’s victory had more to do with how the establishment reacted. “We carried it out properly.” On the [state central committee], we took seats. We were chosen. We cast our ballots. We outorganized them. After that, they just opened a new location for business. I believe that they will always act in such a manner.

The disappointment with Whitmer has made it hard to predict what will happen to the Nevada Democratic Party, but it has also raised more significant questions. People who have been a part of the Reid machine for a long time often worry about running things during the critical 2024 cycle without tearing the party even more apart. Whether it is worthwhile to seize control of state parties concerns Sanders’ supporters.

A former Sanders employee in Nevada said, “I think this is a lesson learned that maybe it’s not the best use of time,” adding that the progressive movement in the state has now been hindered. It doesn’t look like this country is moving toward electing progressive or left-leaning candidates. On the other hand, when Judith first took this job, it already had a strong base that could have been built on.

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