Tark smart to stick close to Trump in GOP primary, leading consultant says

News - August 21, 2017

Robert Uithoven, principal, J 3 Strategies, said Monday on Nevada Newsmakers that Danny Tarkanian will have a big boost in the 2018 Republican U.S. Senate primary by sticking close to President Trump.

Trump remains very popular with Nevada Republican base, Uithoven said. Tarkanian is a major supporter of Trump's policies.

"Keep in mind Donald Trump won our (2016 GOP presidential) caucus here by getting more caucus votes than any other previous caucus in Nevada Republican Party history," Uithoven said.

"Take (Sen. Ted) Cruz, who I worked for, (Sen. Marco) Rubio, Rand Paul, Ben Carson and you add them all up and Trump doubled what we all got, cumulatively," Uithoven said. "That's remarkable. And I see plenty of polling still today and Trump is very popular with the base.

"And remember, midterm elections, it is the base who shows up to vote, on the Democratic side and the Republican side," Uithoven said. "So I think running away from Trump would be very dangerous."

Tarkanian has already attempted to paint his primary foe, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, as a "Never Trumper."

In 2015, Heller said Trump "crossed the line" when Trump was critical of the Vietnam prisoner of war, Sen. John McCain, with Trump saying McCain was a “war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”'

Recently, however, Heller said he voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

Heller's campaign, run by Uthoven's competitor Michael Slanker, could hit at Tarkanian for his past defeats and squandered GOP treasure, Uithoven said.

Tarkanian has won three Republican primaries but has lost in each of those general elections. He also lost a GOP primary in 2010 for U.S. Senate to former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle of Reno. He is 0-5 when it comes to winning the office.

"I would just look how they (Heller campaign staff) initially stated it," Uithoven said. "They call him (Tarkanian) a perennial candidate.

"He takes in a lot of resources," Uithoven said of Tarkanian. "And there are just so many resources to go around in these campaigns to fund a senate race or a governor's race, all of the constitutional officers, to the Legislature and down all the way to local government.

"They say he (Tarkanian) continually squanders a lot of valuable resources in campaigns by pulling the money and a lot of the attention out of other campaigns, and ends up losing.

"That is kind of their (Heller campaign's) early charge," Uithoven said. "He (Tarkanian) is not a good investment anymore. Even if you thought he was a good investment in CD3, he came up short."

Tarkanian's losing streak has a lot to do with the races he's chosen to run, Uithoven said.

"In reality and in Danny's defense, he ran in a lot of races that he shouldn't have been in," Uithoven said. "Trying to defeat Democratic (state) Sen. Mike Schneider (in 2004), who has been a friend of this show for years, how is he going to win that?

"Then his CD4 (Congressional District 4) race, when it was first created, was the 2012 presidential year, Obama vs. Romney," Uithoven said. "No Republican was going to win CD4 in 2012. And the anomaly occurred in 2014 when we got a Republican in there (CD4) for a term in Cresent Hardy.

"But Danny hasn't exactly picked very winnable races for himself," Uithoven said. "The only one, I would argue, CD3 the last time around and he came up a percent or two short."

When asked if Tarkanian has the GOP "base sewn up," Uithoven said, "Maybe so. The base has been hearing from Danny for a long time in a bunch of different races. Not so much up here. It has been a while since he has been on a statewide ballot."

Heller has some tough decisions to make in Washington D.C. before the primary election, Uithoven said.

"It is a difficult road for Dean Heller but he's got remarkable winning record, right? He's never been defeated," Uithoven said. "What is complicated for Dean Heller, look at what is on the calendar coming up.

"So we (Republicans) have failed at healthcare," he said. "I think they are going to make another run at it. But you have tough decisions, tough bills coming up with tax reform. You have a debt ceiling. Go talk to any Republican based-primary voter and ask what they think of raising the debt limit. Now of course, you can't default on the debt, right? As a senator, you can't vote no, essentially, unless there is some kind of spending reform package and you're upset because your amendment didn't get tacked on."

"Dean Heller still has some tough votes to cast going forward," he said. "Danny has the luxury of not having to cast a single vote."

Another candidate could also join the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, Uithoven said.

"It's going to be a tough contest and there could be other Republicans that jump into that one, too," he said. "It might not just be Danny vs. Dean. March (2018) is a long way away, when candidates file."

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