Chuck Muth: Top 10 Silver State conservatives in 2010
As the year winds to a close, here are my picks for 2010’s Top 10 Nevada Conservatives. (Sorry, Angle-ophiles, you don’t blow $27 million and a slam-dunk shot to take out Harry Reid and make this list.)
10: Sen. Mike McGinness. No, he’s no fire-breathing movement conservative, but he did challenge and dethrone tax-hiking moderate Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio.
9: Frank Ricotta. An early tea party organizer, Ricotta is now the Clark County GOP chairman and moving the organization in the “right” direction.
8: Victor Joecks. The deputy communications director for the Nevada Policy Research Institute turns complicated public policy issues into entertaining, easy-to-understand blog posts and columns.
7: Mark Ciavola. If it wasn’t for Ciavola’s voice from Right Pride, a conservative organization of gay Republicans, Republicans in Nevada wouldn’t have had hardly any voice at all in Nevada politics this year.
6: Ciara Matthews. As the campaign’s deputy communications director, Matthews was one of the few bright lights in the Angle debacle. In public appearances against Reid’s spokesmodel, she kicked butt.
5: Adam Stryker. A well-like political activist, Stryker is the new Nevada state director for the conservative Americans for Prosperity organization.
4: Joe Heck. He knocked off liberal Rep. Dina Titus in November. ‘Nuff said.
3: Debbie Landis. Founder and leader of Action is Brewing, the most organized, visible and active of the tea party organizations in Nevada.
2: Bob Irwin. Ran against and scared the tar out of Democrat Assembly Speaker-in-Waiting John Oceguera despite impossible odds.
1: Elizabeth Halseth. She’s young. She’s attractive. She’s intelligent. She has a beautiful family. She’s also a fire-breathing conservative. In fact, almost as soon as she publicly announced her campaign for the state assembly in the fall of 2009, she e-mailed me a photo of herself signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge in her kitchen.
Then on the last day of filing, when the conservative GOP challenger to liberal Republican state Sen. Dennis Nolan dropped out, Halseth withdrew from her assembly race and filed for the state senate seat against Nolan rather than letting him go unchallenged.
No shrinking violet, Halseth aggressively went after Nolan in the primary and beat the longtime veteran. Alas, the conventional wisdom was that while a staunch conservative could beat a liberal Republican in the GOP primary, she couldn’t win against the well-established, well-liked, well-respected, well-funded Democrat opponent in this Democrat-majority district.
Elizabeth kicked his…er, donkey.
If she gets some good direction and takes some good advice, Halseth has the potential to become a young Nevada version of Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. And that’s certainly something for conservatives here to cheer and celebrate as we usher in the New Year.
Congratulations to State Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, our Conservative of the Year for 2010.
• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.