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Indy Elections: GOP scraps minority outreach centers in Nevada

Plus: Big ad buys, and abortion ballot initiative gains momentum.
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Indy Elections

Indy Elections is The Nevada Independent’s newsletter devoted to comprehensive and accessible coverage of the 2024 elections, from the race for the White House to the bid to take control of the Legislature.

In today’s edition: A rundown of what happened to the Republican National Committee’s minority outreach centers in Las Vegas. We also have details on some of the latest Nevada presidential polling, an ad blitz on Biden’s climate policy and our Lightning Round with an update on the state’s abortion ballot initiative.

A quick correction: The last edition misidentified the occupation of Assemblywoman Selena La Rue Hatch (D-Reno), a teacher in the Washoe County School District.

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We want to hear from you! Send us your questions, comments, observations, jokes or what you think we should be covering or paying attention to. Email your newsletter editor Tabitha Mueller at [email protected].

Days until: 

  • Primary ballots are prepared and mailed out: 43
  • Regular primary Election Day: 63
  • Election Day: 210

What’s going on with RNC’s minority offices?

By Gabby Birenbaum and Eric Neugeboren

In 2020 and 2022, the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Nevada GOP made a well-publicized push to attract voters of color by opening several minority outreach centers in the Las Vegas Valley and across other swing states, billed as long-term investments in communities where Republicans typically lacked support.

But a Nevada Independent analysis found that several of those locations are closed and now host other businesses. The Nevada GOP did not respond to multiple requests for comment about why the centers were closed or if they plan to reopen them.

An Asian American Pacific Islander outreach center in southeast Las Vegas is now a vape shop called “Vape Ape,” which an employee told an Indy reporter had opened in the past year. A former Hispanic Voices for Trump location in East Las Vegas is now a Spanish-speaking church, and a Black Voices for Trump outpost has been replaced by a chiropractic practice and a small business selling refrigerated trailers and boxes.

With the exception of a North Las Vegas RNC center-turned-boba shop, community center locations remain listed on an active page on the Nevada GOP’s website, although the page is not accessible via the site’s homepage and it does not note the closure of the centers. 

An RNC spokesperson said Latino engagement efforts by the committee and the Trump campaign have already begun in Nevada, but did not specify what those efforts entailed. 

The GOP’s quiet closures are happening nationwide, with officials in January saying they planned to reopen a Hispanic community outreach center in Las Vegas. But with leadership changes atop the RNC, there have been conflicting reports over the future of the centers.

Democrats have relied on building overwhelming levels of support among communities of color to eke out close victories in Nevada in the past. As polls suggest the president’s popularity is ebbing among minority groups, Senate and presidential contests in Nevada could hinge on which party better mobilizes those voters.

Read more on the future of minority outreach centers in Southern Nevada here.

What we’re reading and writing

Decades-old idea of axing federal Department of Education revived in Nevada Senate race by Eric Neugeboren and Gabby Birenbaum

We don't need no education.

‘You have to grow into it:’ Joe Lombardo’s rise from beat cop to governor by Tabitha Mueller

Who is Joe Lombardo?

FBI investigating state senator for role in grant funding by Eric Neugeboren

Quid pro, uh-oh? 

Lombardo endorses Susie Lee's lands proposal in rare support for Democrat-led initiative by Gabby Birenbaum

Welcome to the purple state.

Rosen makes $14 million ad reservation in Nevada Senate race by Gabby Birenbaum

Per the Steve Miller Band, “Take the money and run” (or buy a bunch of ads). And, it comes as Rosen raised a record $5 million in the first quarter. 

Former Culinary head and national labor leader D. Taylor steps aside by Howard Stutz

“I believe the next generation of leaders should get their shot.”

Indy Poll Watch

The Wall Street Journal/Fabrizio, Lee & Associates/GBAO (March 17-24)

  • 600 registered voters
  • Margin of error: 4 percent

A new poll of battleground states finds former President Donald Trump with a 4-point lead over President Joe Biden in Nevada — a margin that persisted whether or not third-party candidates, including independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., were included.

The Nevada results were among Trump’s best across swing states, and are fairly consistent with other March polls, which saw Biden come within striking distance of his predecessor. In head-to-head contests, Trump’s lead has fluctuated between 2 and 5 percentage points, depending on the poll.

Additionally, Nevadans were rosier on Trump’s presidency than voters in any other swing state — the poll found that 53 percent of voters approved of his job as president. Biden, meanwhile, only got 37 percent approval.

Gabby Birenbaum

Indy Ad Watch

Climate Power — “Saving Money” (:15 and :30) and “Future” (:15 and :30)

Climate Power, a communications group focused on climate politics, went live with a $2 million clean energy advertising campaign in seven key swing states, including Nevada. 

The campaign is targeting young people, voters of color and suburban women who may not be aware of Biden’s clean energy policy. The localized Nevada ads, “Saving Money” and “Future,” feature a clean energy union worker from Nevada’s IBEW Local 357 and run from March 18 through April 30.

Though Biden’s name isn’t mentioned in the advertisements, representatives of Climate Power said that testing showed audiences favored Biden more after seeing the ads.

Biden for President — “Willow’s Box

In a new Biden campaign ad airing in battleground states on television and digitally as part of a $30 million buy this spring, Nevadans will see a Texas couple emotionally describe the baby items they had collected for their daughter, Willow. Interspersed with the story are text slides explaining how Amanda Zurawski miscarried, was sent home by doctors over Texas’ restrictive abortion law, and nearly lost her life to a sepsis infection.

The Biden campaign then lays the blame squarely at the feet of his opponent, saying, “Donald Trump did this.”

Tabitha Mueller and Gabby Birenbaum

The Lightning Round

❤️ In memory of Kurt Englehart — Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) issued a statement following the death of her senior adviser, Kurt Englehart, saying that she and her team are “heartbroken.” Englehart, who died Saturday in a car accident, worked for the senator for the last eight years. Staffers described him as a key figure behind Cortez Masto’s 2022 re-election. Family and friends have organized a GoFundMe for Englehart’s wife and son.

🧑‍⚖️Election lawsuit dismissed — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Sigal Chattah, a prominent GOP attorney and RNC Committeewoman, on behalf of far-right activist Robert Beadles and two others, seeking to block 2023 legislation increasing criminal penalties for harassing election workers. The judge dismissed the complaint with prejudice and noted that the plaintiffs had a “lack of standing.”

🗳️Too close to call Cook Political Report, the gold standard for race ratings, moved the Nevada Senate race from the “Lean Democrat” category to “Toss-Up” on Wednesday, a welcome sign for Republicans and a distinction that places Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) in the company of red state Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).

Cook now considers Rosen’s battle to get re-elected a more uphill climb than those faced by her peers in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Still, Editor Jessica Taylor wrote in her analysis that of the four toss-ups, Nevada is the GOP’s toughest play.

💰Gunter-mentum? — Speaking of the Senate race, former Trump ambassador to Iceland Jeff Gunter says he is placing a $3.3 million ad buy in the Nevada Republican Senate primary in the hopes of taking down current front-runner Sam Brown. The ad buy, first reported by Fox News, includes a spot where Gunter calls himself “110 percent pro-Trump” as he attempts to run to the right of Brown. 

Nearly a week later, Gunter has yet to actually make the ad reservations, according to Federal Communications Commission data.

🏨 Guntermentum Pt. 2? — Gunter held a rally Sunday at the Ahern Hotel featuring Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL). Per The Nevadan, other attendees included Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony, various state legislative candidates, and congressional candidates Flemming Larsen and former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee.

📝 Halfway there — Nevadans for Reproductive Freedom announced last week that it had collected more than 50 percent of the signatures it hopes to collect to place a ballot question to codify abortion protections in the state Constitution on the ballot this election cycle. The campaign must submit at least 102,362 valid voter signatures, including at least 25,591 from each of the state’s congressional districts, by June 26 to the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office. A spokesperson for the organization did not provide a breakdown of signatures collected by congressional districts but said, “We’re on track in all four districts.”

📺 Democratic PAC announces Vegas ad campaign — A PAC focused on securing a Democratic majority in the U.S. House is pouring nearly $7 million into TV and digital ad reservations in Las Vegas. The reservations — which include $755,000 in Spanish-language ads — are part of the House Majority PAC’s initial $186 million nationwide advertising buy. The three Las Vegas House Democrats are in competitive races, but all of the contests are at least “Lean Democratic,” according to ratings from the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Eric Neugeboren, Gabby Birenbaum and Tabitha Mueller

And to ease you into the week, a few “posts” to “X” that caught our eye: 

We’ll see you next week. 

Editor’s note: This story appears in Indy Elections, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2024 elections. Sign up for the newsletter here.


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