Sen. Dean Heller and other Republicans up for election in Nevada have moved outside the state GOP to form Team Nevada to help voter turnout.
Even before supporters of Rep. Ron Paul (Texas) grabbed headlines by winning control of the Nevada GOP, top Silver State Republicans had moved to build a separate organization to boost down-ballot candidates.
Months earlier, Nevada’s Victory voter turnout program was rebranded “Team Nevada,” moved outside the state GOP. The organization is run by top Nevada elected Republicans and their consultants and is overseen by presumptive presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign and the Republican National Committee. County advisory boards populated by activists provide additional input, as do committees that focus on aspects of ground-game strategy.
And Team Nevada might not be the last extra-GOP entity to focus on voter turnout in the Silver State this fall. Some Nevada Republicans are exploring ways to compete with a Democratic-friendly, labor-union-funded ground game that is expected to operate in Northern Nevada, a key presidential and Senate battleground in this swing state. Republicans involved in Team Nevada contend that their approach, unique among party-sanctioned ground games in competitive states, is working.
“The campaigns and volunteers are working together better than they have in any cycle since 2004,” a Nevada Republican said. “Turnout will not be a problem.”
Team Nevada is operating with the support and oversight of the Silver State’s top elected Republicans, including Gov. Brian Sandoval, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Sen. Dean Heller and Reps. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei, a former state GOP chairman. Heck and Heller are top Democratic targets. The senior advisers to these five Republicans have worked together for years and are engaged in the more direct strategizing and tactical decision-making, as are the RNC and the Romney campaign.
Ryan Erwin, Romney’s top Nevada campaign adviser, also consults for Amodei, Heck and Krolicki, Romney’s state campaign co-chairman. Erwin’s former business partner, Mike Slanker, is chief political strategist for Sandoval and Heller. Chris Carr, Romney’s Nevada campaign manager, has worked closely with Erwin and Slanker in recent years and from his position is helping to monitor Team Nevada’s paid staff.
The organization is focused on turning out voters for Romney and candidates for Congress and the state Legislature. It is based in the same building as the Romney campaign, which views its success in the Silver State as partly dependent on Republicans fielding a strong ticket across the board. Team Nevada’s personnel include Executive Director Kristin Vieira, who reports to RNC Regional Political Director Allison Coccia, as well as communications and Hispanic outreach directors.
Team Nevada had intended to align itself with the state GOP, a strategy that was scuttled in May after Paul supporters won control of the state GOP and garnered attention for attacking the RNC and suggesting they might not focus on turning out voters for Romney. In fact, the organization is working closely with Northern Nevada’s Washoe County GOP, considered effective and professionally run.
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