Monday, April 12, 2010
NV-LtGov: The Nevada Progressive Paul Murad Interview
Over the weekend, I had a chance to chat with Paul Murad, one of the Democrats running to replace scandalicious GOoPer hot mess Brian "Krooklicki". I know we've seen him before at a number of Democratic club meetings and campaign events, but I had a chance to dig a little deeper and ask some more on the questions on my mind... And I hope, find answers to what you've been thinking and asking.
Here were the questions I asked:
Moi: You like to talk about how your experience makes you the best qualified candidate... So how exactly have your career and life experience prepared you for the job of Lieutenant Governor?
Murad: "My life overall prepared me for experience of public service... It's a public duty. That's how I look at it."
He said that he's not out to use this office "as a political stepping stone... It's a public service. I have a history of giving back to the community." He mentioned his teaching, experience in Las Vegas real estate, his other community service projects, and working on organizations like the Las Vegas World Affairs Council that promote more global understanding.
"My history of public service makes me best qualified to serve."
Moi: We hear plenty from candidates all the time about renewable energy... But all too often, it's "all talk and no action". How will you actually use the position of Lieutenant Governor to recruit more clean energy companies to Nevada?
Murad: He mentioned his work on this issue as being "more of long-term involvement". He talked about his work with Global Green USA, as well as practicing what he preaches by driving a hybrid car for the last five years.
He also mentioned that he's really out to recruit more manufacturing jobs (like the wind turbine plant that Senator Reid recruited to come here).
I also asked about solar and wind farms, like Amargosa Valley, which have been stalled due to environmental issues (ironically). He responded that his experience in smart growth and sustainable development has prepared him for tricky tasks like these. He stated the need for feasibility and environmental impact studies, and that he has already dealt with these problems in the real estate arena.
Moi: With the Travel Promotion Act now law, as many as 1.6 million more international tourists will be coming to America each year... So how will you take advantage of this and bring these tourists to Nevada?
Murad: "There's a need to market Nevada internationally... It's great to now have federal backing. We're competing with the rest of the world, and we're competing to win. No one's more qualified for this than me. I've worked in forty countries."
Moi: And what will you be doing to bring more domestic tourists back to Nevada? With so many states now legalizing some sort of gambling, how do we maintain a competitive edge?
Murad: "Expanding tourism is one of my three top priorities." He then went on to his proposal to work with state agencies to finally build high-speed rail lines to make it easier for the ten million visitors who come every year from California to come to Nevada.
I asked specifically about DesertXpress, and Murad said that he's ready to work with California's elected officials on connecting DesertXpress in Victorville to the California High-speed Rail Network stop in Palmdale.
Moi: We've been hearing plenty of talk lately about economic diversification... But again, not enough action. What will you actually do as Lt. Gov. to recruit more companies in more sectors so that Nevada is no longer so overdependent on the casinos?
Murad: He said he's been talking about this since last fall... And he already has his "50/50 plan" to bring the top 50 US corporations and top 50 international corporations to do more business (and hopefully, relocated headquarters) in Nevada.
Moi: Now that we're on the topic of taxes, do you think we need to rethink our tax structure? Does mining pay its fair share? Do casinos? Is our tax structure inherently regressive?
Murad: "We need comprehensive tax reform. We shouldn't be targeting or excluding any particular industry. We need to target in a comprehensive way so we can fund essential services like public education, good roads, trains, and public infrastructure."
Moi: One of the other candidates talks about being a "lifelong Democrat"... So you're not? So why did you become a Democrat, and what Democratic values will you bring to the office of Lt. Gov.?
Murad: "I have experience... I have the experience of being raised in a communist country, the former USSR. It's something I lived through, the end of the Cold War. I've witnessed that. I had very humble beginnings."
"No one from either party welcomed me then, so I registered with the American Independent Party." And then, he said as he became more politically involved and learned more about American politics, he then became a Democrat. "I made the choice to be an American. I made the choice to be a Democrat. Now I made the choice to step up and serve my community."
Moi: I hear you've been on a reality TV show... And there was some controversy over it. Is there an up side to this?
Murad: "It happened 3 years ago. [His "Millionaire Matchmaker" appearance and the fallout with Patti Stanger, that is.] I've never been hiding behind the shadows. It's about me having real world experience and real life background."
We then moved on to discuss parlaying this into bringing more TV and film production to Nevada. Murad said he's come to know more about the film industry from his strange Bravo experience. He pointed out to be that only $100 million in production was spent in Nevada... As opposed to New York City getting $750 million.
I then asked how we can catch up with states like New Mexico and New York that have been so aggressive in recruiting more film production. Murad responded with facts on New Mexico offering a 25% rebate, and other tax incentives that leading states offer. 42 states now offer various incentives... But Nevada doesn't, and this needs to change.
Moi: So finally, what makes you think you have the best chance of winning?
Murad: "The facts don't lie." He cited three recent straw polls (2 Stonewall straw polls, and one from Si Se Puede) showing him winning BIG, and he said momentum building for his campaign.
"I am the only candidate from Clark County. The others are from the north. They're not a part of this community. I am. Southern Nevadans realize this is something we need."
Obviously, the North vs. South divide continues to play out in this campaign. (Heads up: Look out tomorrow for my interview with Jessica Sferrazza to see how she responded to this.)
Murad then mentioned how he has full time staff, ambassadors, and volunteers that are all busy reaching out to voters and reaching out to local media. He then said that because he speaks fluent Spanish, he can also communicate to almost 30% of population that are Latino and Latina.
"We bring diversity. We're not the same old Nevada of 10 years ago. We're the new nevada, and we're embracing it."
Murad closed by describing some more why he thinks he's the candidate best positioned to win in November.
"I don't have big company like one of my opponents. I have time to help Democratic Party... In the general, I have the best chance of having my personal story cut through the lies and beat Brian Krolicki."
So what did I think coming out of this?
Obviously, Murad sees what may be a valuable trump card in his location. He lives and works here in Southern Nevada, while the other two major candidates are up north.
Still, I could also sense a genuine interest in public policy. As you can tell above, he was pretty knowledgeable about the intricacies of renewable energy, the challenges ahead in rebuilding Nevada's tourism industry, and the overall need for a more diverse Nevada economy. For someone who's "not a career politician", Murad sounded like someone who knows his stuff.
So as I hinted at above, I also did an interview with Reno City Council Member Jessica Sferrazza... And you'll be reading all of it tomorrow. I asked her most of the same questions, along with a couple curveballs. You can see for yourself then how she compares (and contrasts).