Coalition of Trump backers attacks Democrat running for state assembly by comparing her to Trump

By: - May 21, 2024 5:00 am

Val Thomason, Democratic candidate in Assembly District 10 (Photo courtesy of Val Thomason)

A coalition of business organizations are behind an attack mailer attempting to tie a progressive state Assembly candidate to former President Donald Trump, whom the groups supported in 2020.

A mailer recently received by voters in Nevada State Assembly District 10 in Las Vegas claims that Democratic candidate Valerie Thomason and Trump “both hid campaign cash to influence an election” and are “both facing accusations of misleading Nevada voters.”

“Can we trust Donald Trump or Valerie Thomason?” it asks.

Thomason is one of three Democrats running in the reliably blue district, which spans across the central part of the Las Vegas Valley. Venise Karris and Kyle Greenwood are the others. No Republicans filed for the seat, so the winner of the Democratic primary is expected to cruise to victory in the November general election, where they will face only Libertarian Sean Moore.

The attack mailer was distributed by Nevadans for Economic Opportunity, which describes itself as a coalition of trade organizations standing together “to oppose the progressive left and pro public union growth in Nevada that is pushing aggressively anti-business policies in our state legislature.” The coalition’s board is composed of leaders from the Associated Builders and Contractors, Nevada Trucking Association, Retail Association of Nevada, and Nevada Franchised Auto Dealers Association.

Chris Daly, who as part of the Strong Public Schools Nevada PAC filed an election integrity report against Nevadans for Economic Opportunity over the mailer, said he isn’t surprised the groups are opposed to Thomason, but he finds it ironic they are attempting to mar her campaign by tying her to a candidate they supported. Strong Public Schools Nevada, which is affiliated with the Nevada State Education Association, is supporting Thomason.

ABC, NTA and RAN all endorsed Trump for president in 2020.

Thomason works for Teamsters Local 14 and organized for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020. She is a democratic socialist and active in the Las Vegas Democratic Socialists of America. She lists “housing for all” and “universal free childcare” her top issues.

Trump is the antithesis of everything she stands for, she says.

The allegation referred to in the mailer involves a PAC called Leftists United for Nevada Assembly, which Thomason says she set up to try and support progressive candidates running for office. The PAC received $3,262 in contributions but the majority of the candidates they’d hoped to back ultimately didn’t file to run for office. Thomason transferred the majority of the funds — $2,826 — to her personal PAC. The rest was spent on Jovan Jackson, a progressive running for Assembly District 6, according to Thomason.

Thomason had not received notice of any formal complaint filed against her campaign, as of Friday. She says the average donation amount to the Leftist PAC was $40 and all of the donations fell below the threshold required for reporting individual donor names.

“I’m offended they did it,” said Thomason of the mailer. “I think it’s offensive to our democracy to send out a blatant lie.”

She continued, “Truthfully, I think this is the biggest sign that I would be the strongest voice on (progressive) issues. If there’s a person who will go against the corporations and the corporate lobbyists, it’s the person they’re attacking with full force.”

The transferred PAC money makes up the bulk of what Thomason has available for her campaign, according to her finance reports. Thomason has said she is not accepting any donations from corporate PACs or lobbyists.

Daly alleges in his election integrity report that Nevadans for Economic Opportunity is the one violating state election law by distributing what is clearly campaign material without being appropriately registered to do so. Nevadans for Economic Opportunity is listed as an inactive PAC on the state’s campaign disclosure reporting portal and has filed no reports detailing contributions and expenses.

Brian Wachter, the senior vice president for government and public affairs at the Retail Association of Nevada, is listed as the executive director of Nevadans for Economic Opportunity. He did not respond to the Current’s request for comment on the mailer or the group’s interest in the AD10 race.

Wachter is a son-in-law to Venise Karris, Thomason’s main competitor. Wachter, who unsuccessfully ran for Clark County School Board in 2020, was the first contributor to Karris’s campaign, transferring $2,000 from his PAC to hers in October of last year.

Karris is a retired union electrician and member of IBEW Local 367. She is endorsed by the Nevada Assembly Democratic Caucus, as well as multiple union and trades groups. Her campaign website lists no policy positions.

Karris is not named on the Thomason attack mailer and has not been formally endorsed by any of the groups associated with the coalition. Karris did not return the Current’s request for an interview or comment.

Kyle Greenwood, the third Democrat in the primary, does not appear to be actively running a campaign. He has collected no campaign contributions and spent no money, according to his campaign finance report. The Current could not find any online campaign presence for him.

AD10 is currently a vacant seat in the Nevada State Legislature. It was most recently represented by Democrat Sabra Smith Newby, who in August resigned in order to accept a job as deputy city manager of the City of Las Vegas.

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to reflect Jovan Jackson’s political affiliation. He is a progressive candidate but does not identify as a democratic socialist. The article has also been updated to reflect how the Leftist PAC was distributed.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist and deputy editor of Nevada Current. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, three children and one mutt.

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