LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Democratic leaders in the Nevada Legislature are targeting one of their own, calling for the removal of state party chairwoman Judith Whitmer.

Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager and Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, both Las Vegas Democrats, issued a joint statement calling for new leadership, alleging that Whitmer is “not up to the task” and defending Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno from “false smears:”

“As Democratic leaders of the state legislature, we are fully invested in having a strong, successful Nevada State Democratic Party focused on winning elections. We are deeply disappointed by recent events that reinforce our concerns over the past two years that Chair Whitmer is not up to the task of managing basic operations and supporting Democratic campaigns in the most competitive battleground state in the country. These controversies include an unprecedented turnover in officers and staff, attacks on our former Lieutenant Governor and the undermining of other elected officials, a purge of 40% of State Central Committee members this month without warning, and a complete failure to address systemic problems with electronic registration and voting at recent State Party conventions and meetings – including for next month’s officer elections. We further denounce the false smears against one of our own colleagues, Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno, who is a barrier-breaking trail blazer and a steadfast champion for criminal justice reform.”

The statement concludes, urging Whitmer to step aside:

“With so much at stake for hardworking families in Nevada, we firmly believe it is time for new State Party leadership that is up to the job, bringing together Democrats from across Nevada and across the political spectrum. Our State Party cannot afford these distractions for another two years. We urge Chair Whitmer to resign so Nevada Democrats can turn the page and get to work on preparing for the 2024 election cycle.”

Whitmer issued a response early Tuesday afternoon, saying her critics are trying to maintain the status quo:

“I was elected Chair by Democrats who felt that their voices weren’t being heard. The false allegations being pushed are, unfortunately, common tactics to stop reform,” Whitmer said.

“When I was elected to Chair, our party had been drained of resources and staff. Every step of the way, we’ve been met with obstruction from forces invested in maintaining the status quo. Despite those obstacles, it’s been my privilege to help our party rebuild and emerge from 2022 stronger than when my term began,” Whitmer said.

“I knew from the beginning of my run that putting control of our party back into the hands of regular people, rather than lobbyists and political insiders, wouldn’t be easy,” she said. “Many expected my administration to fail, and when it didn’t, are now trying to stop me from running on our achievements. I and my slate remain committed to elections based on facts and our shared vision for a better Nevada.”

The statement from Yeager and Cannizzaro comes a day after Whitmer said on the Nevada State Democratic Party’s website changes on the Central Committee were routine roster updates “to remove individuals who’ve failed to maintain their membership.”

“We were disappointed to learn that this essential responsibility is being misrepresented as a targeted removal,” Whitmer said.

Monroe-Moreno is actively campaigning for Whitmer’s job. The state party election is in March. A Feb. 11 tweet by Monroe-Moreno said, “NV Dems purging 40% of members 1 day after we announced our campaign is alarming — especially with the lack of communication, improper removals & refusal to release more info. There are major internal problems with the management of our State Party. It’s time for new leadership.”

Yeager is one of the Democrats who was removed from the Central Committee.

A footnote to the internal party struggle came when Democratic Socialists of America issued their own statement — without ever taking a side:

“This is our lesson, and we hope socialists everywhere will pay close attention: the Democratic Party is a dead end. It is a ‘party’ in name only; truly, it is simply a tangled web of dark money and mega-donors, cynical consultants, and lapdog politicians.”