Earlier than the chairman of Nevada’s Republican Occasion launched former President Donald J. Trump at a marketing campaign occasion final month, he casually referred to a telling non-public dialog they’d had.
“After I talked to the president, I mentioned, ‘I assure you, Nevada will present up, and we’ll ship you one hundred pc of delegates for the state of Nevada,’” the chairman, Michael J. McDonald, instructed tons of of Trump supporters gathered in Las Vegas.
Mr. McDonald’s brazen prediction concerning the caucuses on Thursday stems from his state’s unusually bifurcated nominating contest, the end result of Mr. McDonald’s closeness with Mr. Trump — an alliance that led to criminal charges for the chairman — and his stewardship of a state get together that has absolutely embraced the previous president’s populist conservatism.
Nevada regulation requires the state to carry a Republican main, however Mr. McDonald resisted it. His get together will as an alternative award delegates primarily based solely on caucuses held by the get together on Thursday night time, wherein Mr. Trump would be the solely main candidate on the poll.
The shortage of drama partly displays the vicissitudes of politics: Different candidates did determine to take part within the caucuses, and paid the get together a required $55,000 for the privilege, however they’ve since dropped out of the race.
Nonetheless, lots of them grumbled about caucus guidelines that the get together enacted to profit Mr. Trump. And Nikki Haley, the previous governor of South Carolina and the previous president’s chief competitor for the Republican nomination, opted for the first after deciding the caucuses have been biased, a criticism shared by some Nevada political observers, who laid blame on Mr. McDonald.
“I consider that he and the Trump marketing campaign determined that they might management the caucus vote higher than an open main election,” mentioned Chuck Muth, a conservative political activist. “And he used his place as chair to push for it.”
The caucus guidelines the get together enacted beneath Mr. McDonald’s management put one other onetime Trump rival, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, at a drawback by successfully preserving the tremendous PAC supporting him from collaborating.
Mr. McDonald, who didn’t reply to requests for an interview, had mentioned he would stay impartial within the state’s nominating contest. However twice in latest months he has taken the stage at marketing campaign occasions for Mr. Trump. (He was not alone in doing so: Iowa’s Republican chairman took the stage in that state beneath related circumstances.)
Mr. McDonald’s yearslong loyalty to Mr. Trump has prolonged to selling the previous president’s lies that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him. He was considered one of six Republicans who signed false certificates awarding Nevada’s electoral votes to Mr. Trump, regardless that Joseph R. Biden Jr. gained the state and thwarted Mr. Trump’s re-election bid. The group, which incorporates the state get together’s vice chairman, was indicted by a Nevada grand jury final 12 months and accused of forging and submitting fraudulent paperwork as a part of the scheme.
All six have pleaded not responsible, and Mr. Trump has come to their protection. At a marketing campaign occasion final 12 months in Reno, he broadly accused Democrats of unfairly persecuting Mr. McDonald for his actions.
“They’re a bunch of soiled gamers,” Mr. Trump mentioned. “Have a look at what they’re doing proper right here to Michael and nice individuals on this state. It’s a shame.”
Mr. McDonald, a former police officer, served on the Las Vegas Metropolis Council from 1995 to 2003. In 2001, a state ethics fee discovered that he had violated ethics laws when he urged Las Vegas to enter right into a enterprise cope with a sports activities facility that was partly owned by considered one of his employers.
Mr. McDonald in the end left workplace beneath a cloud of scandal, shedding his re-election bid whereas dealing with a public corruption inquiry involving a strip membership operator from whom Mr. McDonald had as soon as taken consulting charges. Mr. McDonald was not charged within the case, although he was reportedly interviewed by the F.B.I.
Throughout his years spent exterior elected workplace, he grew extra concerned within the state get together and was in the end elected its chairman in 2012, swept in by a grass-roots wing that felt marginalized by large donors and the Republican institution. The subsequent 12 months, Mr. McDonald was re-elected after telling the get together he rejected “a top-down” approach to management.
“Folks have been indignant, upset and fed up,” mentioned Zachary Moyle, a Republican political marketing consultant. “Mike was a voice for these individuals: activists and volunteers and people like that, who felt neglected of the get together system.”
That ideology cleared the best way for Mr. McDonald’s backing of Mr. Trump, who harnessed the identical anti-establishment sentiment in his rise to energy in 2016.
At the same time as many Republican officers balked, Mr. McDonald was an early supporter, telling The Reno Gazette-Journal that he “struck up a friendship” with Mr. Trump in 2015. He campaigned alongside Mr. Trump in 2016, when Nevada was a vital battleground state — as it’s once more this 12 months.
Mr. Muth and Mr. Moyle each mentioned Mr. McDonald’s early and unyielding help for Mr. Trump — who typically publicly assails these he finds insufficiently loyal — had been central to his remaining the chair of the state get together.
“Discover me a extra loyal Trump supporter than Mike McDonald,” Mr. Moyle mentioned. “You gained’t discover one.”