EDITORIAL:

Nevada state Republican Party speaks loudest by saying almost nothing

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Christopher DeVargas

Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald encourages supporters to vote for Adam Laxalt and other Republican candidates during a rally on the eve of election night, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018.

By the time you’re reading this, the leaders of Nevada’s state Republican Party may have finally condemned last week’s deadly violence in the U.S. Capitol.

But regardless, Nevadans should remember this: As of Monday afternoon, five days after the deadly rampage in the U.S. Capitol, the state GOP leaders had yet to disavow the rampage or directly attempt to defuse the threat of more terrorism by right-wing extremists.

Let that sink in. The party leadership — and we’re looking directly at Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald and former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt — saw what everyone else in the world saw and responded with near-silence. The closest the state GOP got to addressing the violence was on its official Twitter account, where it retweeted Vice President Mike Pence’s day-of call for the mob to stand down and posted a message Saturday calling for prayers for the officer killed during the riot.

Meanwhile, the state party also offered no immediate response after it was revealed this weekend that the chairman of Nye County’s Republican Central Committee posted an incendiary statement on social media filled with conspiracy theories and false claims. The chair, Chris Zimmerman, accused Pence and other Cabinet members of treason, falsely claimed that the Capitol violence was committed by antifa and not Trump supporters, and repeated a conspiracy theory that votes on Dominion voting machines were altered by satellite. Zimmerman, whose post was verified by the county’s GOP committee, compared the recent events to the revolution of 1776.

The Sun sought a reaction from the state Republican Party early Monday. As of 5 p.m., there had been no response.

Laxalt, McDonald and the state GOP office have also ducked other media inquiries.

This is not some simple oversight, like someone forgetting to hit the send button on an official statement or a response to reporters’ questions. It’s a clear indication from the state GOP of where it stands — with the movement of terrorists and conspiracy theorists who would take down American democracy.

Laxalt and others helped create this monster by fanning the flames of President Donald Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him. Laxalt and the party filed baseless lawsuit after baseless lawsuit alleging widespread voter fraud and irregularities in Nevada, including one it submitted less than a week before the Capitol violence. Except for the most recent suit, which is pending a hearing, they’ve been tossed out practically in the blink of an eye.

Now, after the death and destruction of this past week, it’s unconscionable for Republicans to continue promoting these incendiary lies.

It’s bad enough that the state party’s leadership pressed the matter to this point, particularly Laxalt. The former Nevada attorney general and one-time candidate for governor once took an oath of office to “support, protect and defend” the constitutions and laws of the United States and Nevada, but instead has spent the past two months attacking the results of a free and fair election.

Since Laxalt is being so hard to reach, we’re left to ask it here: Mr. Laxalt, do you side with domestic terrorists? Every indication suggests you do.

No matter what, the disgraced Laxalt has utterly disqualified himself for elected office in the future by virtue of his ardent attempts to deny Nevada voters their voice.

The challenge in Nevada had already yielded thuggery before last week, including threats to election officials and crowds of armed Trump supporters showing up at election facilities to intimidate staff members.

This behavior would have been disgusting under any circumstances, but it was especially bad considering that election officials went above and beyond in conducting the vote amid the challenges of the pandemic. In particular, Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria and his staff deserved nothing but praise for planning and carrying out an election that was safe and more accessible than ever — and doing it under tight time constraints.

Even the congressional Republicans who committed to challenging the Electoral College results didn’t target Nevada. And with Congress certifying the results of the Electoral College vote — including Rep. Mark Amodei, the only Republican member of Nevada’s congressional delegation — the election results are official.

To the many reasonable and responsible Republican Party members in Nevada, we ask you: Can you continue to support a party that for days wouldn’t state an obvious truth that the violence last week was unacceptable? One that continues to press home a lie that would not only wipe out millions of legitimate votes, but is fueling insurrection? Simply put, why won’t you disavow this deception, violence and madness?

Again, perhaps the party’s leaders will have stepped forward by the time this editorial is published.

If not, though, their almost complete silence speaks to a disturbing future for the Nevada GOP, whose leadership appears to be staying on a destructive course.