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McDonald wins another term as chairman of state GOP, beats back two challengers

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Election 2020Government
Nevada GOP Chairman Michael J. McDonald, right, introduces then-President Donald J. Trump during the Nevada Republican Party Convention inside the Suncoast Hotel and Casino on Saturday, June 23, 2018. (Daniel Clark/The Nevada Independent).

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald will serve a fifth term as head of the state party, winning re-election after beating back two challengers who had openly criticized him.

McDonald secured victory Saturday at the party’s annual meeting in Winnemucca, defeating organized challenges from Mesquite City Councilwoman Annie Black and former Clark County Republican Party Chairman Dave McKeon. 

The incumbent McDonald earned 205 votes from members of Nevada Republican Party’s Central Committee, enough to surmount Black’s 102 votes and McKeon’s 54 votes. 

Both Black and McKeon had run bids to oust McDonald and criticized his leadership and management style amid the party’s near total wipeout in the 2018 midterm elections, in which Democrats gained near-supermajorities in both legislative chambers, incumbent Republican Sen. Dean Heller lost and all statewide Republican candidates were defeated save incumbent Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

But McDonald, who said he offered to resign after the midterms save for a personal request from President Donald Trump, has built close ties with the Republican National Committee and the president, leading to public endorsements from Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale and 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski.

He was also endorsed by a bevy of state Republican leaders including Rep. Mark Amodei, more than a dozen state lawmakers including Senate Republican Leader James Settemeyer and Assembly Republican leader Robin Titus, and several former elected officials including former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, former Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, former Rep. Cresent Hardy and former Gov. Robert List.

Central committee members also re-elected Jim DeGraffenreid to the position of vice chair, Barb Hawn as secretary and Michael Bertrand as treasurer. 

McDonald, a former Las Vegas City Council member, has headed the state party since 2012, defeating Las Vegas Sands lobbyist and political operative Robert Uithoven in 2013 and former Assembly candidate Nick Phillips in 2015. Although he initially ran as a party outsider, McDonald has touted a close relationship with Trump, who hosted a fundraiser for the party in 2016 and spoke at its 2018 convention.


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