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Apr 04

Socially conservative platform upsets millennials at Washoe GOP convention

The Washoe County Republican Party adopted a platform at their county convention on Saturday many young Republicans felt was too focused on socially conservative issues – and might turn potential voters away during the general election.

A majority of party members ratified the platform without debate, including planks such as denying man-made climate change, defining marriage as between one man and one woman and abolishing legal prostitution in the state. Conservative millennials like Matt Carpenter, 21, of Reno, found himself upset by the party’s willingness to ignore a changing social landscape, refusing to even hear debate about issues like climate change and gay marriage.

Carpenter, a first-time convention delegate, pleaded with the other convention delegates to allow debate, but to no avail. A platform so socially conservative would likely cost Republicans the November election, he said.

“That’s the problem,” he said. “Young people care about these social issues. If you give them the social issues that they want with fiscal conservatism, that’s how you’re going to win the youth vote.”

Lauren Carlson, a 24-year-old first-time delegate from Reno, said she agreed with the majority of the proposals – smaller government, privacy, fiscal responsibility – but agreed with Carpenter’s plea for debate.

“I agree with him that if we don’t start addressing those as a party and just keep pushing them off, we’re not going to get new people into the party,” she said. “You look around, it’s a lot of older people and people who have been in the party for 30 years and part of the system for 30 years.”

County Chairman Adam Khan, himself a 24-year-old, said adopting some of the stances instead of focusing on limited government and fiscal responsibility would turn off potential conservatives. Khan has a stated priority of growing the party and has reached out to groups such as Hispanics and the LGBT community.

“When we start talking about these other issues, we turn off potential Republicans who are conservative, who do believe in smaller government,” he said. “But we’re going to push people out because of some of these policies and it just doesn’t make sense.”

Khan chalked up the quick passage of the platform to people being exhausted with the seven-hour convention packed with parliamentary procedure and bylaw disagreements.

The platform also included repealing the education tax plan pushed through the 2015 Legislature by Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican from Reno. Party members outright rejected one that included the legalization and taxation of marijuana.

Older voters spoke more favorably of the platform. Darryl Capurro, 71, of Reno, said he agreed with nearly everything included, but expected the state party’s to be very different.

“This will go up to the state, so the state platform is liable to be different,” he said. “They’ll take the county recommendations into account, but there’s 17 counties. What it comes out with, who knows what it will look like?”

The convention was more muted than expected, with no contention in the selection of 633 delegates to the May 14 state convention in Reno even with a growing divide nationally over delegates between celebrity businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Elections weren’t required, with everyone who wanted to go gaining a spot regardless of whom they support.

A candidate needs 1,237 national delegates to secure the nomination. Trump currently sits at 736 with 14 Nevada delegates to the national convention bound through the first round of voting. Cruz has 463 national delegates including six from Nevada.

Instead, much of the arguing was over adopting the rules of the convention and bylaws for central committee meetings.

A new bylaw suggestion will be considered at the next meeting that states anyone who files litigation against the group will not be allowed to be a member. Other bylaw suggestions were shot down, but took up most of the time from the 9:30 a.m. start of the convention until about 2:30 p.m.

The rule is aimed at combating members who the county executive board cited, but did not name, as the reason for their resignation. Khan, First Vice-chairman Tom Dickman, Secretary Barb Hawn and Treasurer Chuck Reno announced March 8 they would leave their posts after the convention because of infighting, including numerous lawsuits and abuse of parliamentary procedure by a small minority faction.

Arguments ensued over the bylaws, taking up much of the day, and Donna Glynn, 58, of Sparks, said she was lost at times.

“It was confusing, but part of that could be on me,” said Glynn, a first-time convention delegate. “If I was smart I would’ve looked up bylaws so I knew what I was reading.”

Convention Chairman Mike Weber said argument over the rules was necessary to the process.

“The party is a machine and settling the rules is simply how we steer that machine in the right direction,” he said. “Some people have been disenfranchised with the way it’s been handled lately – a lot of confusion in the central committee processes – but I think we’ve settled a little bit of those issues here today.”

Daryl Capurro, a 72-year-old from Reno attending his first convention, applauded Weber’s ability to move the discussion along. After the long delay arguing over the rules, the convention was back on schedule by around 3 p.m.

“I think overall, you’ve got to have a handle on it,” Capurro said. “I thought he did quite well moving things along. Otherwise we would’ve been here until midnight.”

Several elected officials including U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., and Attorney General Adam Laxalt gave speeches throughout the day. Republicans running for office, from city council to U.S. Senate, made stump speeches to their base.

U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle passed out petitions for ballot initiatives for voter ID laws, prohibiting the state’s health care exchange and barring schools from releasing students’ test results without parental permission. Assembly District 25 candidate Kime King passed out petitions for the commerce tax’s repeal.

The Nevada Republican Party state convention will take place May 14 at the Reno Events Center.

Source: Socially conservative platform upsets millennials at Washoe GOP convention

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