Democratic Party Leadership Struggles with Progressive Takeover in Nevada

Nevada State Democratic Party Chairwoman Judith Whitmer and Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno Are on the Warpath

After Bernie Sanders decisively won the state Democratic caucus in 2020, his supporters swept party leadership elections. That prompted establishment Democrats who had been a part of the Reid machine to empty their state party coffers and move their assets into a new outside entity called Nevada Democratic Victory.

It’s a move that could complicate outreach to independent and unaffiliated voters in Nevada’s swing county. It also ticked off a big labor ally.

William McCurdy II

William McCurdy II is a progressive organizer who works as the State political director for Service Employees International Union Local 1107 and lives in Commission District 4. A native Las Vegan, he graduated from College of Southern Nevada where he served as student body president, fighting against tuition hikes and pushing for legislation for need-based scholarships to ensure higher education was within reach for all.

When Bernie Sanders’ acolytes took over the Nevada Democratic Party after his win in the presidential caucuses a year ago, they pledged to make it more accountable to voters and retool it to be a force for grassroots organizing. But two years later, those activists are in the process of being run out of their own party by establishment Democrats — who are using outside entities to launder money and register votes while ignoring the party’s most useful functions. The results are a cautionary tale for other states. In the future, if Democrats want to regain control of the party, they’ll need leaders who can do the job.

Judith Whitmer

Judith Whitmer, the chairwoman of the Nevada State Democratic Party, is running for re-election on March 4 with a progressive slate. But the old-guard forces ousted her by the party’s delegates two years ago are on the warpath and plan to use every tool at their disposal to stop her group, which includes Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, from taking over.

A few weeks after Whitmer beat incumbent Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom for the post, outgoing Executive Director Alana Mounce sent Whitmer an email. It began with a congrats but quickly got to the point: she and all of the party’s staffers were quitting, along with all of its consultants.

In the certified election results, Whitmer won 248 votes to Segerblom’s 216 for chair. Her progressive slate won four other officer positions: Jacob Allen (first vice chairman), Dr. Zaffar Iqbal (second vice chairman) and Ahmad Ade (secretary). The teller committee ruled that errors or administrator issues prevented some central committee members from voting, but it wouldn’t have changed the outcome.

Daniele Monroe-Moreno

Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno represents the citizens of Nevada’s 1st district. She ran for office to tackle issues that matter to her constituents like affordable and accessible healthcare, criminal justice reform and veterans’ affairs. She is an advocate for the rights of children and has sponsored legislation to protect them. She is also an ardent supporter of women in leadership roles.

Judith Whitmer’s move to deprive the state party of its ActBlue account has angered many in Nevada’s Democratic establishment. Some believe that this is just the beginning of a power struggle to come.

Ideological schisms between far-left, left and center factions are nothing new in the state party. But purging 40 percent of the central committee’s members, including a powerful union, is sure to get people’s attention. The brouhaha could spell trouble for the party, which relies on its labor-heavy base in Las Vegas to win statewide races. Those successes might become more difficult if the party continues to fragment.

Amy Vilela

After Bernie Sanders’ landslide win in the Nevada caucuses, activists from the Democratic Socialists of America began taking aim at party leadership. Their clout has grown since then, and some mainstream Democrats view them as a threat.

In February, the group’s members backed a slate of candidates in state party elections. All but one on the list was a dues-paying member of a local DSA chapter.

That move has angered some elected officials, including U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, who warned that her district could be lost to Republicans. It has also drawn the attention of the national Democratic Party, which is trying to contain the fracas. Titus said she thinks her colleagues should focus on the issues that resonate with voters, including addressing climate change, overhauling healthcare and tackling the nation’s housing crisis. She also says they should avoid stoking divisions. “There is too much work to be done,” she said. “Our lives depend on it.” She added that she supports the Green New Deal and opposes nuclear power.

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