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Cruz And Rubio Engage In Battle For Nevada Mormons

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Cruz And Rubio Engage In Battle For Nevada Mormons


By Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

BOULDER CITY, Nev. — Deep divisions among Nevada Republicans over a $1 billion tax increase pushed by the state’s Republican governor are helping to shape the battle between Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas to win this state’s presidential caucuses — the first nominating contest in the West.

Rubio’s backers are eagerly eyeing Nevada as they look for an early-voting state the candidate could win. Although Rubio is widely seen as one of the leading contenders for the GOP nomination, the early primary states mostly look unpromising for him.

Cruz, by contrast, leads the polls in Iowa, which holds the first contest of the season on Feb. 1, and is well-positioned in several other conservative states that hold early contests.

With the stakes high here, the two freshman senators are vying to gain the support of a key voting bloc within the state’s GOP — members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who mostly lined up behind fellow Mormon Mitt Romney in the last two election cycles.

Mormons make up only about 4 percent of the state’s population, but their influence in Nevada’s Republican caucuses is much greater. In 2008 and 2012, members of the church accounted for nearly a quarter of Republican caucusgoers, entrance polls showed.

Both Cruz and Rubio — who attended an LDS church in Las Vegas in his youth — have enlisted politically prominent members of the church, and now the fault line on taxes that split the state’s Republicans this spring and summer has come to the forefront.

Rubio’s side includes prominent backers of the tax increase, aimed at expanding the state’s budget for schools, which Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval pushed through the GOP-controlled Legislature in May and June. The tax hike, the largest in state history, was strongly opposed by a large portion of the Republicans in the Legislature.

Also among Rubio’s backers is Bruce Woodbury, a Mormon and former Clark County commissioner who is so admired in southern Nevada that the I-215 beltway around Las Vegas is named after him.

Four years ago, Woodbury appeared in radio advertisements urging supporters to vote for Romney. He plans a similar effort this cycle for Rubio, working alongside the campaign’s state director, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison — another prominent Mormon — to build support ahead of the Feb. 23 caucuses.

“An essential factor is winning the election in November,” Woodbury said after a recent Rubio rally in a hotel ballroom a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip. “He has all the essentials: a powerful life story, he’s moderate — he can appeal to all segments of the electorate.”

His son, Boulder City Mayor Rod Woodbury, and two City Council members — all church members — also back Rubio.

Among the leaders of the opposition to the tax increase was Assemblyman Ira Hansen, a Republican who represents Sparks, just east of Reno. Hansen, also a Mormon church member, is now part of Cruz’s state leadership team.

“You see it at the national level and here: Cruz folks are much more conservative than Rubio’s,” said Hansen. “When it comes to social issues, when it comes to tax increases, if you’re a conservative — a true conservative — then Ted Cruz is your candidate.

“I think that Mormons and just Republicans in general want a true conservative who will stand for conservative values in Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Hansen says Rubio’s past support of bipartisan immigration reform, which included a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally, is also a negative for him in the state’s caucuses. It’s an issue on which Cruz has repeatedly assailed Rubio, saying that the Florida senator supports “amnesty” for those who have violated immigration laws.

Rubio’s campaign has two field offices in the state — one in Las Vegas, the other in Reno — and nearly a dozen paid staffers. The Cruz campaign has a similar infrastructure.

Cruz has enlisted Paul Workman, a former bishop in the Mormon church and a member of Romney’s 2012 Nevada finance committee, who says his job is to make sure LDS members know about Cruz’s record as a conservative.

Cruz “talks about his faith with confidence and how it guides him,” Workman said. “There’s a real openness to other faiths that he has. It appeals to me and I’m sure other Mormons as well.”

At a recent religious round table in Las Vegas hosted by the Cruz campaign, Workman spoke with evangelical Christian pastor Rafael Cruz, the Texas senator’s father. The two talked about Mormon doctrine — of salvation, atonement and family — and how to appeal to LDS voters. Workman says he was impressed by the elder Cruz’s knowledge of Mormonism, which he says will help bolster the senator’s LDS support.

Rubio supporters, however, say Cruz’s brand of staunch conservatism will not help the party win in November.

Heidi Wixom, a mother of six, lives a few blocks from a Mormon church in her eastside Las Vegas neighborhood. After rallying behind Romney in the last two elections, she remained torn for much of the summer and fall about which candidate to back. Electability in November was vital in her decision to support Rubio, she said.

“Just being a strong conservative doesn’t help the party,” she said. “You have to have shown you can work alongside Democrats; even if right now that doesn’t seem ideal, it will pay off in the general election.”

(c)2016 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio speaks at a campaign town hall meeting in Rochester, New Hampshire, December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Brian Snyder



  1. David Tiffany January 3, 2016

    “There’s a real openness to other faiths…”

    However, God is not multi-faith. Ephesians 4:4-6, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.…”


    1. Rippie January 3, 2016

      And it is and has always been about being a Jew, in the case of Christians, opening the opportunity to be a Jew to more and in the case of Islam, they believe, to be a more loyal to the basic truths Jew with strict rules and great rewards for toeing the line.

      One God, various facets of the Abrahamic tradition as expressed in Mosaic Law common to them all.

      And it leads to this garbage we endure today worldwide, in the ME and here in the US.

      Cherry-picking scripture to be used to exclude “their” version of “your true religion” is disingenuous, bigoted and engenders conflict on scales that rival world war and may start the next one.

      God is not multi-faith… God is at the heart of EVERY faith, Abrahamic or not. If the “good news” is SO good and important, which you will concede for brevity, it is, then it is worth delivering often and to as many as possible in as many languages and ways as possible… throughout history… by selecting the right earthly advocates.

      If God offers Love and Salvation to all people who will ask for it, then God offers it everywhere to everyone regardless of what YOU or human-authored books or papers filled with lies and hate may say.

      That’s all working under the assumption that God exists, for which absolutely no actual evidence has ever been documented in large-scale first person accounts.

      Frankly, I don’t care if you believe in faerie-tales, fables and myths or not if it all makes you behave in such a manner that you don’t jeopardize anyone’s safety or property.

      But the one thing that the very most educated scholars in all faiths and traditions eventually do agree upon is that IF there is a God, which they all agree must be taken on faith, not proof, this God is Universal and manifests through ALL religions, presumably so as not to forget or leave anyone out.

      You should consider doing that in your life… in general. You might find it refreshing.

      1. David Tiffany January 3, 2016

        The verse above clearly says that God is not multi-faith. In fact, Jesus said this in John 14:6, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

        “That’s all working under the assumption that God exists, for which absolutely no actual evidence has ever been documented in large-scale first person accounts.”
        The evidence is documented:

        1. Rippie January 4, 2016

          Other than quoting biased scripture written by men, you haven’t established that God does not support other faiths.

          Additionally, if you were to aver that you “know that God exists,” it would only be reasonable and logical to demand to know what proof you have or have witnessed. And if it’s books written by men, it’s not proof.

          If you make the assertion, you ARE in a position to have to prove it.

          Otherwise, I agree… The burden is on God and God has chosen (if God even exists) not to prove “his” existence.

          This could be achieved in a single act that would convince every person living on earth all within one day, and it will never happen, as personal and loving a way as it is, with no chance for equivocation.

          So, I know better than to ask you unless you state with certainty that you KNOW that God exists… And then I WILL demand to see and hear your proof.

          But if you’ve already shot your wad with your little “it’s not our problem” website, you’ve already lost.

        2. oldtack January 4, 2016

          You are a very good “cherry picker”. God is perfect. GOD is infallible. Anything that is spoken by God must be obeyed to the letter? God was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, Right? Then I ask, have you ever seriously researched the Torah, the “Holy” books of the Judaic Faith?

          Have you ever read the words from God given to Moses to give to his people, commonly known as the Law of Moses. Peruse Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy . Deut. 13 “If your son or your daughter or the wife you love or your best friend worships another but the God of Abraham you are to KILL them. You must stone them to death”? Leviticus – if you wish tot sell your daughter into slavery you must follow the law set forth in Leviticus for this purpose so you may get fair compensation?And much much more.
          Now, these are the words of the Almighty God and these commands must be obeyed. Therefore, true to your “faith” you have a great task just in your own extended family for by the command of god you must kill all of you kinsmen that follow any faith other than the faith of “Devine truth”. If you find any doing any labor on the Sabbath you must kill them. And – if you have a comely young daughter by Gods Law you can sell her into slavery and if you follow the directives in Leviticus. God has spoken.

    2. oldtack January 4, 2016

      And, I presume that your particular Sect is the only Sect on this Planet that possesses absolute Truth? Do you believe that ALL who do not adhere to your belief are “consigned to outer darkness” and at the “Great White Throne Judgement” all others will be found wanting and cast inot Hell.? Wow!

  2. Buford2k11 January 3, 2016

    Mathew 7:15, just about covers the gop/theocratic christians…

  3. Rippie January 3, 2016

    Wow… The GOP is pandering to a disproportionately influential minority that lords “moral superiority” over all others to carry the day for them.

    How predictable.

  4. DRATON January 3, 2016

    These two clowns are fighting each other but both are afraid to take on Trump, neither one of them has the lead so what are they fighting for second or third place? they are afraid of him because he is going to talk about how they came to this country.

  5. oldtack January 4, 2016

    We are witnessing the panorama of all the bought and paid for whores in Washington now playing the “Religion” card. It is a wonder that under their garb they probably all wear depends since they continually play the whore for anyone who will give them a vote.
    Religion – what exactly do these clowns know about religion. What do you know about religion? From the beginning of life on this planet to date – what factual proven information do you have about the formation of Religious thought?


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