Nevada’s Primary Results Reveal Union Influence Waning

Candese Charles

In a recent scoop from The Nevada Independent, the 2024 Democratic primary in Nevada has dished out a surprising course: the Culinary Union, once a heavyweight in state politics, seems to have lost its recipe for success. Known for its strong endorsements and voter mobilization prowess, the union didn’t quite hit the mark this election.

Traditionally, the Culinary Union wields significant influence due to its large membership and ability to mobilize voters. However, the primary results indicate a shifting landscape, with incumbents supported by the union not securing the victories anticipated.
It’s about time.

The Culinary Union’s Diminished Influence

The Culinary Union has controlled the political landscape in Nevada for far too long. However, this outcome challenges the narrative that unions control Nevada politics and prompts a reevaluation of their impact on legislative decisions. I guess their bark isn’t as big as their bite.

Despite legislators’ fears about the union’s ability to flip seats, this election showed a different flavor. The Culinary Union’s influence may not be as spicy as previously thought, with its preferred candidates struggling to secure the victories they were promised.

The union made a high-stakes move by pitting Geoconda Huges against Democratic Senator Rochelle Nguyen in Senate District 3. A nurse and the daughter of former Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Huges ran against Nguyen in response to the senator’s involvement in a bill that rolled back pandemic-era hotel cleaning mandates.

The selection shows nepotism at its finest. But to what avail?

Shifts in Nevada’s Political Landscape

Union leadership said the passage of SB441 – the 2023 resort industry-backed bill that imposed those cleaning mandates- was “anti-worker, anti-Democrat, and an infringement of hotel worker protections.”Conversely, legislative Democrats argued that the bill was a necessary adjustment as pandemic conditions evolved.”

The gaming industry and public health experts supported them.

Since then, the Culinary Union has held a grudge against the Dems. Ngyuyen just got caught in the crossfire and was targeted for helping present the bill, even though she didn’t sponsor it.

Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageore told The Nevada Independent that the ‘Reid Machine,’ the state’s Democratic political organizing framework named after the late Democrat Sen. Harry Reid, should be called the “Culinary Machine.” He wasn’t only talking about the Democrats.

The union wants to make it clear that it will go after either side of the aisle to get what it wants.

Union Power Tested

We’ve seen the impacts of unions’ extreme involvement in states like Chicago, which has led to overwhelming debt. Why? Because if you give up on one thing, the union is back with its hand out.

The union’s aggressive stance in the 2024 Democratic primary, which included unendorsing 18 Democratic state lawmakers and endorsing challengers against them, underscored its discontent with legislative decisions such as the passage of SB441. It showed that it was willing to make any outlandish attempts to get what it wanted.

But, this time, their attempts weren’t enough.

Despite a significant campaign effort, including nearly half a million dollars spent on advertisements, the Culinary Union’s candidate, Hughes, was defeated by Nguyen with a decisive margin of over ten percentage points.

Implications for Future Policy

Looking ahead, will Democratic leaders start offering policies that cater to a broader range of tastes, including those of parents and community stakeholders?

The primary results reflect broader discontent and evolving priorities among Nevada voters. Issues such as education reform, economic policies, and healthcare have taken center stage, often diverging from traditional union agendas. This shift signifies a growing disconnect between union endorsements and voter preferences, signaling a need for lawmakers to align more closely with constituents’ concerns rather than union directives.

Looking ahead, it remains to be seen whether Democratic leaders will pivot toward addressing broader public concerns, including those of parents and other community stakeholders. The primary outcome challenges the assumption that union endorsements automatically translate into electoral success, urging lawmakers to adopt a more nuanced approach to policy-making that reflects diverse interests within the electorate.

As Nevada continues to navigate its political potluck, policymakers must keep an eye on voter sentiment’s evolving palate and the limitations of single-interest group influence. By serving up more inclusive and flavorful governance, Nevada can ensure everyone gets a taste of representation.

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Candese Charles

Candese Charles

Communications Associate- Public Relations

Candese Charles, the Communications Associate- Public Relations for the Nevada Policy Research Institute, is a dedicated storyteller. She firmly believes that freedom begins with knowledge and is committed to ensuring that all Nevadans are equipped with the knowledge necessary to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Over the past decade, she has passionately worked in journalism, communication, and public relations for local news outlets, nonprofits, and multimillion-dollar companies, advocating for the public.

Originally hailing from Los Angeles, California, Candese and her family have made Las Vegas, Nevada, their home for the past ten years. Despite her journalism career taking her across the country, she was thrilled to return to the Valley in 2022. Her advocacy work spans politics, housing, and education, and she is eager to share her expertise and experiences with the Nevada community, a community she deeply understands and is committed to.

When she’s not fully engaged in her work, Candese can be found cherishing moments with her family or embarking on new adventures. Her first international journey was for a study abroad program in Seoul, Korea, and it sparked her love for travel, a passion she continues to pursue with enthusiasm and curiosity.