Over the past seven presidential elections, Nevada has been trending Democratic. This is not a good sign for the eventual Republican nominee who will more than likely need to win the Silver State in the general election if the GOP is to unseat President Obama in 2012. That said, kudos to Mitt Romney for understanding the importance of Nevada ahead of the 2012 general election.
It’s traditionally the top-of-the-ticket candidate who, along with the party when its healthy, drives the statewide organization effort to recruit volunteers, register voters and invest in a network to get them to the polls.
So who’s best positioned to be the Nevada Republican Party’s savior?
It’s difficult to predict who would keep the focus on Nevada enough to heavily invest in the party infrastructure. A simple early interest in the state — which is sure to be a battleground in the general election — doesn’t necessarily mean that focus would carry through a general election campaign. McCain, for example, included Elko on his announcement tour.
But so far, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has both paid staff in the state and a fairly healthy network that has survived since his 2008 presidential run.
That network was tapped in 2010 to bolster the campaigns of Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., and a bevy of Republican legislative candidates. Many of those lawmakers, as well as Heck, have signed on to endorse Romney.
“I think Romney proves the Nevada Republican Party’s best chance to have a presidential campaign make that a focus in Nevada,” said Grant Hewitt, Heck’s former campaign manager.