In the months that follow an election loss, candidates' campaign teams often seek to uncover exactly what went wrong. Perhaps it was inaccurate polling, a lack of advertising, a town hall gone awry. Or perhaps it was... the candidate's gender? One Nevada campaign manager claimed his candidate's sex cost him victory.
Months after Mark Bailus lost his campaign as an appointed incumbent, his campaign manager reportedly thinks he's uncovered why the Nevada judicial candidate's campaign failed. According to The Las Vegas Review-Journal, Bailus' campaign manager allegedly blamed the loss on 2018 being "an extremely difficult year to be a man and defeat a woman."
"The defeat was not by any means the fault of Judge Bailus, but more due to the political climate of the 2018 elections," The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported David Thomas, Bailus' campaign manager, wrote in a letter reportedly submitted alongside Bailus' application to fill a different vacant seat on the Clark County District Court bench. "Despite Judge Bailus' great commitment, he could not overcome the pattern that occurred in all major judicial races between a man and a woman in 2018."
"It was an extremely difficult year to be a man and defeat a woman in a judicial race," Thomas reportedly went on to write.
Bailus lost his seat to Mary Kay Holthus in November, according to The Hill. He has applied to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolask to be considered to fill a different vacant seat in the court.
In his letter, which The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported has since been pulled from Bailus' application, Thomas reportedly cited the successful campaigns he ran for Nevada Supreme Court Justice Elissa Cadish and Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Elana Lee Graham as evidence to support his claim. According to Thomas, Graham was outspent by her male opponent but still managed to win while Cadish defeated a male opponent Thomas described as being "on a higher court."
Thomas reportedly went on to cite the Women's March and the controversy surrounding Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation as "societal factors that may have greatly influenced voters." In fact, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Thomas wrote he'd "attended events where primarily only women were present" during Bailus' campaign and was informed that "they could not vote for him."
While women certainly ran — and won — in historic numbers during this past midterm election, there's no evidence to suggest that meant that 2018 was "an extremely difficult year to be a man and defeat a woman." According to a tabulation from The Washington Post, out of 277 women who ran for Congress and governor positions in the midterms, 125 women won.
According to The Hill, Thomas sought to clarify the claims put forth in his letter in a statement released Friday, saying it wasn't only Holthus' gender that had led her to election victory. "In my letter I never said Holthus won only because she was a woman, I only said Bailus' defeat was more due to the political climate than his failure,' The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thomas said. "Holthus did receive a significant bump that gave her the lead over Bailus in my polling and I was not able to come up with an effective plan to turn around that bump in the three short weeks available to me."
Thomas went on to say that, ultimately, he took responsibility for "not being able to overcome the political climate" and maintained that his letter "makes no judgment of Holthus or her abilities or her campaign efforts."