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[Politics] Three questions with Bernie Zadrowski

Republicans like the caucus process just fine

John Katsilometes

This is an excerpt from the radio show Our Metropolis, a half-hour issues and affairs program that airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and is hosted by Las Vegas Weekly writer at large John Katsilometes. Tune in next week to hear the rest of this interview with Clark County Republican Party Chairman Bernie Zadrowski, who took over for John Hambrick in January:

What is your job description, your charge, exactly, as the chairman of the Clark County Republican party?

Generally speaking, the chairman’s job is to guide the county GOP in all aspects of policy. I like to look at it this way: My job is to fulfill my campaign promises, and it’s really, really simple. It’s as simple as they come: Elect Republicans. That’s the No. 1 goal. You also run the Clark County Central Committee meetings, the Executive Board meetings, all of the back-room meetings. But the public face of the job is to elect Republicans, and in that respect you are really expected to be the lead fundraiser and really the face of the party, so when fundraising and making sure things get done when they are supposed to. That’s the main function of the job. … We want to go to the areas we can win, but we also want to get candidates in races where we might not have a great chance of winning, but where we can occupy the candidates on the other side and force them to run, draw their resources away and make them compete.

You took over the week of the Republican and Democratic caucuses in January, the Tuesday before the caucuses were conducted. Republicans had about 45,000 turn out statewide, and the Democrats drew about 116,000. What does that disparity say about the relative energy behind both parties at this stage of the general election?

It means absolutely nothing, quite frankly. I look at it in two ways: No. 1, we had 45,000 people turn out, and all of the pundits said we wouldn’t have more than 10,000—we started planning too late, we didn’t have our ducks in a row, so to speak. If you look over the past 35 years, look at the primary and caucus process since 1972, with the exception of 1980, the party that has been out of power does better in the primary and caucus process than the party that is in power, so it means nothing. The key question is, how was the turnout for us? It was phenomenal. … We had 9,000 people sign up who wanted to be delegates to the state convention, which means that’s 9,000 people we can call on to volunteer and make calls and go door-to-door for the Republican party.

There was confusion for both parties’ caucuses, mostly because it was the first time most voters had ever caucused. On the Democratic side, Dina Titus has proposed returning the party to a primary system for the first time since 1980. Has there been any discussion from the Republican party, locally or statewide, to return to the primary system?

Gosh, let me tell you, I hope Dina Titus is successful in convincing the Democrats to go back to the primary, because caucuses are so effective in party-building. If they go back to the primary, we’ll stick with the caucus. It builds the party up. It builds volunteers. But, you know, for three days after the caucus, I took probably 250 e-mails from people who said they felt disenfranchised, it was confusing, saying, “I didn’t know my precinct number.” … I can understand that. There are some kinks to be worked out, but those aren’t questions about whether it works at its core. That’s a question of being ready to go. At its core, it’s a great thing. If we can fix those logistical problems—and we can—then it’ll be a great process for everybody. There was just no institutional knowledge this year, because we hadn’t done it in so long.

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