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Why Are Local Leaders In The Republican Party Quitting?

Choosing delegates and adopting a party platform are expected at Republican county conventions, but something happened during the Clark County Republican Convention that wasn’t. 

It ended last Saturday with the resignation of Chairman Ed Williams, who was elected to office in 2015. 

Williams' resignation isn't the only one among county level Republican parties, though.

Last month, every member of the four-person Washoe County Republican Party executive board gave notice. They will end their terms later this month.

What’s going on with that party at the county level and why did its leadership quit?

In his resignation, Williams cited a shift in the Clark County Republican Party, saying the new board’s direction differed from his. Williams explained what he meant on KNPR’s State of Nevada.  

“My personal goals were to create a more inclusive party that grew our membership, bring more people from communities in that had not necessarily been involved with the Republican Party before,” he said, “The new board had different priorities that didn’t quite match up with what I was trying to accomplish for our candidates. So, I thought it would be best to move on.”

Williams explained he wanted to have an inclusive party that brought people in, but others wanted to have an exclusive party with a “litmus test” for candidates and members.

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Adam Kahn will leave his post as chair of the Washoe County Republican Party later this month and he agrees with Williams’s assessment. Kahn said he wanted to grow the number of Republicans and make sure the party won in elections in 2018 and 2020, not just in 2016.

“Politics is a game of addition not subtraction,” Kahn said.

Kahn believes the party as a whole and the four-member board he was part of was “coalescing” around the idea of reaching out to more people to make the party more sustainable in the future. However, he said there was a small number of members who disagreed.

 “What was unfortunate was there was a small minority that believed that the goals of the party should be a little different,” Kahn said, “They were thinking that maybe we should have a litmus test for who could be a Republican.”

Kahn doesn’t believe it is the job of the county party to determine who is conservative enough.

“As a party, it’s not our job to tell people how conservative they should be our job is to win elections,” he said, “I don’t think telling people they’re not Republican is going to help our cause.”

Despite their disagreement with the party politics, both men are still Republican Party members and they don’t think the party has left them.

“They’ve not left me and I’ve not left them,” Williams said, “It’s just that my efforts are better spent elsewhere to help our candidates win elections.”

“I’m not going to allow a couple of people who disagree with me to make me hate the party that I think is best to repair this country and repair this state,” Kahn said.

Williams doesn’t believe the disagreements with the party are an example of it being in “disarray,” in fact, he said it is an indication of a “healthy debate and discussion.”

Guests

Ed Williams, outgoing chair, Clark County Republican Party; Adam Khan, outgoing chair, Washoe County Republican Party 

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