Fractured Nevada Democrat Party in Disarray After 2 Years of Infighting Under Progressive Leadership

The Nevada State Democratic Party (NSDP) is in turmoil two years after Democrat Socialist-backed officials were elected to top positions within the party.

In 2021, a band of far-left officials endorsed by the Democrat Socialist of America Las Vegas chapter seized major leadership positions in the NSDP, as the Las Vegas Sun reported at the time. Judith Whitmer, who was a delegate for Bernie Sanders’ second failed presidential campaign in 2020, took the top spot as the party’s chair in March 2021.

The takeover marked a large milestone for the radical socialists as they infiltrated the top echelons of the state party and looked to transform it for years to come. But trouble ensued from the get-go as establishment Democrats allegedly took steps to undermine the new leadership at several turns, Politico reported.

Now, after a lackluster midterm election that saw the lone incumbent Democrat governor loss in the country and a failure to deliver on a promise of making Nevada the first Democrat primary state in the nation, Whitmer is taking heat from all fronts. Neither the establishment nor progressives are pleased with her performance, and Sanders is disgruntled, Politico reported, though she pushed back on this claim:

“The senator is pretty disappointed in Judith’s chairmanship, specifically around her failure to build a strong grassroots movement in the state,” said a person familiar with Sanders’ thinking. “A lot of us feel sad about what could have been. It was a big opportunity for Bernie-aligned folks in the state to prove some of the folks in the establishment wrong. And that hasn’t happened.”

One of Sanders’former Nevada staffers lamented on what he or she sees as a missed opportunity.

“It really feels like any efforts to elect progressive or left-wing candidates here is back to square one,” the ex-staffer said. “Whereas when Judith was coming into this role, there really was a foundation that could have continued to be built upon.”

Whitmer’s opponents look to oust her in a leadership election on Saturday and replace her with Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno (D), who the Las Vegas Review-Journal  notes, “represents the party establishment.”

A Rocky Start

When Whitmer and her coalition of socialists assumed leadership, establishments Democrats still within the party apparatus worked to undermine them, the LVDSA said in a statement. The organization specifically called out the political apparatus of late former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV):

After the Progressive Slate won the election, it was discovered that the vestiges of the famed “Reid Machine,” who held these positions prior, had seen the writing on the wall and – legally, though clearly unethically – flipped a kill switch that effectively gutted the party infrastructure, transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the party coffers…

Politico also reported that the funds were transferred to the National Democratic Senate Committee (NDSC). 

“The previous administration pretty much burnt the house down,” Whitmer told the outlet. “When we got the keys, there was a lot of reorganization that had to be done. Records were missing and money had been transferred out.”

The LVDSA said that it was willing and ready to help but asserted that “instructions never came” from the party officials they backed during elections, and neither “did any real communication.”

“We openly acknowledge our part in allowing the relationship to fall flat. We deferred to the people who’d actually won these offices, naively expecting them to think of us as partners in organization and mobilization,” the statement read. 

The Rogue ‘Shadow’ Apparatus in Washoe County

Along with reportedly emptying coffer funds, some officials formerly within the party formed the Nevada Democratic Victory group in Washoe County, which, as NBC News reports, “became a shadow party apparatus with aides tied to more establishment Democrats in the state, including Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen.”

Officials said the mechanism was necessary, as they lacked faith in Whitmer’s prowess to run a high-stakes general election campaign in a purple state, per Politico. On the line was a neck-and-neck governor’s race between former Gov. Sisolak (D-NV) and Gov. Joe Lomardo (R-NV) and a highly contentious senate race between Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Republican former Attorney General Adam Laxalt.

NBC News has obtained internal documents from the NSDP that reveal the extent to which the battle raged with Nevada Democratic Victory. In consulting with lawyers as a possible way to gain control over the rogue entity, the NDSP was posed with the option of de-charting the Democrats in the county.

Additionally, the papers apparently showed a second plan to politically target Cortez Masto, with one document reportedly reading, “Unleash loyalists on CCM et al.”

Ultimately, the Whitmer-led NDSP never went through with plans, and Cortez Masto squeaked past Laxalt by a thin margin. Public internal squabbling over the candidate could have been extremely problematic for Democrats on the national scale, as the senate was deadlocked heading into midterms.

While Cortez Masto won, Sisolak lost to Lombardo by more than 15,000 votes – marking the only incumbent Democrat governor in the country to be unseated in November. Former deputy campaign manager for Sisolak’s campaign, Molly Forgey, issued a statement to NBC News bashing the state party’s handling of the gubernatorial race:

The State Party created additional challenges for the governor’s re-election. They actively worked against the coordinated campaign supported by elected officials and national committees, campaigned against the governor’s appointed Lt. Governor, and used their limited resources to pay their allies instead of turning out Democratic voters.

Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom told Politico he believes the get-out-the-vote initiative was too late, contributing to Sislak’s defeat.

State Party’s Central Committee Purge Sparks Worries of Upcoming Election’s Integrity

Furthering driving tensions among Nevada Democrats was the recent removal of 230 members of the Nevada State Democratic Central Committee, which elects the chair, as the Review-Journal reported in early February. Whitmer said she removed the members under committee bylaws after they missed two meetings in a row.

“Our bylaws apply … to everyone equally, whether you’re an elected official or not an elected official,” Whitmer told the paper. “If you don’t read the entire bylaw, then it’s easy to claim that there’s been some sort of fraud.”

However, 40 members of the committee directed a letter to Whitmer expressing deep worry over the purge and the integrity of Saturday’s election:

This purge of roughly 40 percent of the State Central Committee membership asof the end of last year – following repeated failures to properly deliver meeting registration information to members, and just a few weeks before the NDSP officer elections are scheduled to take place – is deeply alarming and raises serious doubts about the integrity of the upcoming election.

Some have alleged that the purge is meant to pave the way for Whitmer’s reelection, per Politico. However, she rejected that notion while speaking with the Review-Journal.  

“First of all, I don’t know who’s going to vote for me, or who’s not going to vote for me unless they’ve declared it publicly,” Whitmer said.

The LVDSA called the allegations “unfortunate.”

“We believe that it is more likely that the establishment democrats do not understand their own processes, which made it easy for us to win elections in 2021,” the LVDSA said.

Whitmer’s Three-Decades-Old Arrest Comes to Light Days Before Election

Making matters worse for Whitmer heading into Saturday’s election, a bombshell development revealed that she was arrested and charged “with organized fraud and grand theft for cashing fraudulent checks in other peoples’ names from her employer” in 1996, KLAS reported Tuesday.

“Whitmer pleaded nolo contendere to a charge of grand theft between $750 and $5,000, records showed,” the outlet’s David Charns wrote.

Attorney Bradley Schrager, who represents Democrats and committees, spoke with KLAS regarding the development.

“This is not a student council election,” he said. “Those people, certainly the membership of the Democratic Party, deserve to know to whom they are giving those contributions and full information about their backgrounds.”

As she hobbles into the election, the politician faces an uphill battle. The Review-Journal noted that Monroe-Moreno has the endorsements of Democrats like Cortez-Mast0, the entire Nevada Democratic Congressional delegation, and key officials in the state legislature. The DSALV has abandoned Whitmer, announcing it is abstaining from endorsing in the race, though a coalition of county chairs back her.


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