Akela Lacy and Ryan Grim write about how the Democratic party establishment in Nevada reacted after a slate of progressives won every post in the state party leadership races. The outgoing party establishment, rather than conceding gracefully, reacted in a very Trumpian manner.
NOT LONG AFTER Judith Whitmer won her election on Saturday to become chair of the Nevada Democratic Party, she got an email from the party’s executive director, Alana Mounce. The message from Mounce began with a note of congratulations, before getting to her main point.
She was quitting. So was every other employee. And so were all the consultants. And the staff would be taking severance checks with them, thank you very much.
On March 6, a coalition of progressive candidates backed by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America took over the leadership of the Nevada Democratic Party, sweeping all five party leadership positions in a contested election that evening. Whitmer, who had been chair of the Clark County Democratic Party, was elected chair. The establishment had prepared for the loss, having recently moved $450,000 out of the party’s coffers and into the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s account. The DSCC will put the money toward the 2022 reelection bid of Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, a vulnerable first-term Democrat.
THE BATTLE BETWEEN the insurgent progressive wing of the party and what’s known in Nevada as the Reid machine — a tightly run operation still guided by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid — began five years ago, when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders organized support for his 2016 presidential primary run, while Reid was working behind the scenes to help his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Over the next four years, outside organizations like DSA exploded in size and strength. The Sanders campaign focused on organizing tens of thousands of young Latino voters in the state, with the goal of activating people whom the party hadn’t bothered with before. And it worked: In the 2020 cycle, after investing heavily in Nevada, Sanders won a commanding victory in the Nevada caucuses.
The Democratic party establishment has been in power so long, they do not take kindly to progressive groups out-organizing them.