News analysis
Fight for Future of Nevada GOP Opens
Saturday in Reno's Pioneer Auditorium

by Steve Miller
copyright 1997, Electric Nevada

The battle for the soul of the Nevada Republican Party begins this Saturday, May 10.
At stake is who will be the next GOP nominee for Governor of Nevada:
Will he be an ardent champion of individual liberty, a Brooklynesque movie producer positively eager to take on the federal government, kick butt and take names?
Or will the nominee be a smooth and dapper silver-haired friend of the current Democratic governor, an administrator of public-financed institutions and state-regulated businesses, with a rep for usually opposing Republican candidates and positions?
In short, will the nominee be Aaron Russo or Kenny Guinn?
Russo is scheduled to kick off his campaign at seven p.m. this coming Saturday evening at Reno's Pioneer Auditorium.
Kenny Guinn, for over a year, has been identified by state media pundits as the unstoppable winner of next year's gubernatorial election.
In this face-off, not just the futures of the two men are at stake. The fight appears certain to split the Nevada GOP itself.
Already standing up for Russo appear to be the grassroots -- a wide-spectrum of now largely disaffected common folk -- whether conservatives or libertarians,



blacks or Perotistas, people who work for tips or people increasingly afraid of police oppression.
But in Guinn's corner are Republican party officials and functionaries whose mouths positively water -- after a 15-year exile from the Nevada executive branch -- at the prospect of recapturing the governor's chair.
More interested in the possible fact of a victory than the ideas to be implemented by any such victory, they swoon before the powerbrokers Guinn has lined up and the 1-million-plus war chest he's amassed. They also appreciate Guinn's methodical, well-planned pursuit of the nomination since early last year.
An example is Rep. John Ensign, R-Nev., who recently told Las Vegas Review-Journal writer Jane Ann Morrison that he personally hoped Guinn faces no primary opposition. That's because once he has the nomination, says Ensign, Guinn would be a very strong candidate for the general election.
"I don't believe Kenny Guinn can be beat, except in a Republican primary," said Nevada's First District Congressman. "Some of the things that make him strong in


 
a general [election] can make you vulnerable in a primary. Kenny's a very centrist person, so you can beat him from the right in a primary."
That clearly is Aaron Russo's agenda -- not merely in order to win, but more fundamentally as a matter of both conviction (see adjoining story), and temperament.
For example, "Freedom Counts!" is the headline atop the poster Russo's volunteers are now distributing in advance of his May 10 kickoff event in Reno. "Are you sick and tired of lying politicians?" is the next line, followed by "Join Aaron Russo, the Future Governor of Nevada, for a special event at the Pioneer Auditorium."
And of nine bullet points listed in a campaign brochure, a full eight spotlight gripes Nevadans have with the federal government:
"On behalf of the people of NEVADA, Aaron will go to the Supreme Court of the United States to prohibit the IRS from illegally taxing gifts (TIPS).
"Prohibit the Federal Government from instituting the newly passed mandatory Federal Identification Card laws in NEVADA (Effective 1999).
"Stop the FDA from making vitamins illegal and make NEVADA




the 'Alternative Medicine Oasis' of the United States.
"Prohibit unlawful asset seizure by any Federal agency and assure that all NEVADANS have the full benefits of due process.
"Starting in October 1998, Federal law mandates all phones in America will be prewired for a tap. Aaron will not allow this in NEVADA.
"Aaron Russo will mandate absolute compliance of [sic] the 10th Amendment (States Rights).
"Mandate that the Constitutions of NEVADA and the United States be taught in depth, in the primary and secondary schools.
"Stop Washington's domination of NEVADA."
Russo's agenda for change would do Revolutionary War-era pamphleteer Tom Paine proud.
But it puts hard, core, questions to Nevada Republicans that both they and their party's functionaries have for years been able to blur.
That time, it appears, is over.

Earlier stories:

Movie producer may be next Nevada governor

Russo commits to race for governor


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