Cruz won Elko and Lincoln counties with 44 and 45% of the vote. He got crushed everywhere else. Why the disparity? I don’t know Nevada that well, but the results in Elko resemble what I was hoping for in the rest of rural Nevada. Why did it work in Elko and virtually nowhere else? He personally appeared in Elko. His message on public lands got through there, and it worked.
People in Nevada, like everywhere else in this country, don’t believe anything any politician says. But in Elko, Cruz was believed on the public lands issue and he won 44 to Trump’s 24 and Rubio’s 21. He got as many as Trump and Rubio combined. When Cruz talked directly to the people of Elko on this issue, he was believed. Just to the west of Elko is Lander County. Battle Mountain is the only town of any size. It bills itself as “Basecamp to Nevada’s Outback”. They promote a peculiar kind of tourism, one that’s not for the faint of heart. This should be prime country for the public lands message. It went Trump 40, Cruz 36 and Rubio 17. The message almost got through there. There’s no other explanation, at least that I’m aware of, for the disparity between Elko, Lander, and the rest of rural Nevada.
In the rest of the state, his message either didn’t get through or was not believed. I hope to God the Cruz campaign does in Alaska, Colorado, and Wyoming what it should have done in Nevada: have a serious, substantive discussion with the legislative leadership and the Governor on the federal lands transfer. I’ve had such discussions in both states. They need to have a meeting and it has to be publicized. People in Alaska and Wyoming, at least, know enough about their elected officials to know that, when it comes to public lands issues, they are speaking for the state as a whole.
The message that Cruz took to Elko works. For some reason, people there believed him. His campaign in the Far West needs to figure out how to communicate the public lands message. Repetition, repetition, repetition. You have to drive it home. Cruz needs to double down on this message, because, initially at least, he’s not trusted. He’s a fancy pants Harvard lawyer. What does he really know about Wyoming, or Alaska, or rural Nevada?
The message will get through in Alaska. Senate Majority Leader John Coghill is ready, willing and able to put a meeting together for Cruz with the legislative leadership. Wyoming Speaker Brown, Senate President Nicholas, and Governor Mead are expecting Ted Cruz to talk personally to them. All Cruz’s campaign has to do is call Mead’s office, and he’ll set up the meeting.
At this meeting he will not be expected to talk. He just needs to listen. These people know a way lot more than Cruz when it comes to this issue. He’s going to learn a lot, and it’s knowledge that can be put to good use.
Cruz will need to get the message out himself. The media won’t help him. At a Vegas rally Monday night, Trump honestly admitted that, on the public lands issue, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. This was not widely reported. Few people are even aware of it. On the issue that Cruz made the centerpiece of his Nevada campaign, Trump had been made a fool of, as he basically acknowledged. But this is not news, because Trump also threatened to punch someone in the face. That’s the story out of that rally. This is deliberate. The entire world of bigfoot journalism dislikes and fears Cruz, and is rooting for Rubio. Some of them hate Cruz so much they’ll promote Donald Trump, of all people. It’s a fact he has to deal with.
Getting crushed as he did almost everywhere in Nevada means his campaign, in general, is malfunctioning. He got rid of his communications director, Rick Tyler, at long last. There’s a perception, which began in Iowa with Carson, that Cruz is a dirty campaigner. The Carson thing was a result of a screw up by Rep. Steve King, who was too important to dump on. But these guys need to get their heads screwed on right. Sneaky campaign tricks aren’t going to cut it.
Whatever value there was in going easy on Trump no longer applies. Republicans across the country are sick of Cruz and Rubio attacking each other, and giving Trump a pass. Cruz needs to forget about Rubio, and go full bore on the Donald. There’s a wealth of material to work with.
It’s either game on, or game over.