By Zach Arnold | February 21, 2016
We’re one step closer to the classiest, most luxurious political cage match in American Presidential history — and Nevada will be a major battle between two of America’s most famous egoists.
In one corner, it will (likely) be Donald Trump and the major casino bosses in Nevada including Steve Wynn plus Frank & Lorenzo Fertitta.
In the other corner, (likely) Hillary Clinton with Bob Arum, outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, and the powerful Culinary Union. The arch-nemesis of the Fertitta family.
Complicating matters in this three-ring circus is what side will each casino boss be on. Sheldon Adelson cares most about Israel and is friendly to politicians using military force. Adelson also owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper. Other casino bosses have poured money into Democratic lobbying firm Subject Matter under the American Gaming Association umbrella. Throw in Governor Brian Sandoval and you have an all-out battle royale in a top purplish swing-state.
It’s hard to see a path for Trump to win Nevada… but he has some wealthy allies on his side. Trump’s a huge UFC fan and has been a big supporter of combat sports for decades. If there’s one person who the Fertitta family can count on to not amend the Ali Act, it would be Trump. The Culinary Union in Las Vegas has used their political heft in trying to build momentum for both amending the Ali Act to cover MMA and also in the fight over MMA legislation in the state of New York.
Both the UFC & Trump share a common enemy: the Culinary Union. The Union protested outside of Trump’s palace last August in order to encourage workers to join the union. Two months later, Trump filed a lawsuit against the Culinary & Bartenders Unions. Two months after that lawsuit, workers at Trump International joined the Culinary Union.
The war between Trump and CU is real. The war between the Fertitta family and CU is real. Now there’s even bigger stakes to be had.
On Saturday, the Democrats held their Nevada caucus and Hillary Clinton won. According to The New York Times, Harry Reid reportedly placed a phone call with the Culinary Union and with casino executives to let their employees attend the caucuses. This helped Hillary Clinton win Clark County by 10%. The Culinary Union was staying neutral in the primary race between Hillary Clinton & Bernie Sanders. Sanders has been making in-roads with Latino & African-American voters but not fast enough to beat Hillary’s coalition of supporters. Sanders continues to do well with younger voters.
When the General Election takes place in November, the Culinary Union and the casino bosses will play a significant role in determining who will win Nevada. With Reid leaving the Senate, the UFC is losing a key political ally on Capitol Hill. UFC needs a political heavyweight on their side. Trump could be that guy. He would absolutely go along with what they want to accomplish. In order to win the Presidency, Trump needs to win Nevada and that means he needs organizational muscle on the ground with assistance from the Fertittas. Not only some muscle in competing with the Culinary Union but also support from UFC’s fan base, largely made up of male voters aged 18-to-35. This demographic matches up nicely with the younger voters who have been supporting Sanders in the Democratic primary. The Bernie Bros.
Why would the Fertittas consider helping Trump out? If Trump wins, 1) the Ali Act doesn’t get amended to cover Mixed Martial Arts, 2) the National Labor Relations Board won’t be breathing down UFC’s neck, and 3) the Feds won’t go after UFC on any sort of anti-trust/monopoly claims.
Conversely, Hillary Clinton will need all the fire power she can get from the Culinary Union, Harry Reid, and Bob Arum in Las Vegas if she wants to win Nevada. It is not a stretch to guess that two of the concessions the Culinary Union could request from Hillary would involve 1) a commitment to amend the Ali Act to cover MMA and 2) pressure in attacking the independent contractor status of UFC fighters.
Other than that, nothing too much at stake in Nevada this November. Just keep Bill away from the Octagon girls.