GOP re-elects McDonald as its chairman |

GOP re-elects McDonald as its chairman

Michelle Rindels
Associated Press

The Nevada Republican Party re-elected Michael McDonald to a third term as chairman on Saturday after a heated election that included the last-minute near-disqualification of his opponent, former Clark County Republican Party political director Nick Phillips.

McDonald won the race 182-151 during a vote at the Nevada Republican Central Committee meeting in Las Vegas. Party insiders and elected Republicans were eligible to participate.

McDonald argued that he and the rest of the current board have been working tirelessly to improve the organization and repair a strained relationship with the Republican National Committee. But he’s been dogged by bad press over a financial mismanagement lawsuit and his quiet hiring to a high-paid job at the state treasurer’s office.

Top elected Republicans have had little interaction with the state party in the past few years, and they tried unsuccessfully to replace McDonald with a lobbyist for the Las Vegas Sands in 2013. McDonald’s supporters framed the contest as a fight between rich donors and the grassroots soul of the organization.

Phillips, 31, had argued he could bring in younger voters and improve the party’s image among disenchanted donors and the public.

The election battle was fierce, as underscored by Phillips’ recent email newsletters. A lengthy one on the eve of the election debunked rumors that he was sent by Gov. Brian Sandoval and that he wants to turn Nevada into California.

His status as a candidate at all was thrown into question late Friday after a legal opinion commissioned by party officials indicated people who were not members of the state central committee could not run for the board. Phillips said his membership in the central committee lapsed for three months when he quit his role in Clark County’s party to campaign for the state chairmanship.

The central committee ultimately voted to allow Phillips on the ballot.

Phillips said he wants to continue statewide work at some level. But he isn’t sure what’s next and plans to take time off for the birth of his son, who’s expected soon.