Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Nevada Matters (Again)

Now that the legislative session is wrapping up, we can get back to the other great pastime of Nevada: ELECTIONS! And believe it or not, we promise to be quite relevant again this next election cycle.

Last week, the head of the congressional Democrats’ campaign arm said he thinks his party can retake the House, and that the Silver State’s races could play a crucial role.

“This House is in play. I wasn’t prepared to say that before,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel told reporters last week, later telling the Sun that “based on the current climate, it looks like most of Nevada could be in play.”

As a swing state with a new congressional district and recently one of the tightest battlegrounds for the House, politicians in both parties are eyeing Nevada’s potential to deliver significant pickup.

If Democrats really mean to take the House in 2012, they’ll have to win 24 seats that are either vacant or under Republican control — three of which, potentially, could come from Nevada. But the national parties will be watching Nevada long before 2012.

So what does this mean? Basically, we can expect yet another banner year with big money, big ticket marquee races. The US Senate race is already being closely watched, as newly minted Senator Dean Heller (R-"Anointed") is having to learn the hard way that getting anointed/appointed to office doesn't make the following election a cake walk. But now that redistricting may very well end up in court, there's also now the possibility of as many as 3 competitive US House races forming here in Nevada next year.

In the mean time, however, there is already an exciting race happening with the NV-02 special election this year. The GOP frontrunners are all over the place on Paul Ryan's craptastic "Kill Medicare" plan, which in turn is causing major teabagger angst and another possible teabagger bid to blow up NV-02 for Republicans. Meanwhile on the Democratic side, Kate Marshall looks to be consolidating most party support and pouncing to take advantage of all the Republican division.

In addition to the personalities, the policies may also be playing a bigger role this year. Nevada still leads the country in unemployment and foreclosures, though recovery is now slowly starting to happen as everyone nervously awaits upcoming jobless reports, casino winnings, and sales tax receipts. However, the state is poised to take advantage of emerging opportunities in renewable energy and green technology, and debate continues on what kind of role we want state and federal government to play in encouraging this and creating more green collar jobs. And as hinted earlier, with Nevada's sizable and powerful senior communities becoming increasingly concerned about Congressional Republican plans to alter or dismantle Medicare, this will likely remain a major front-burner issue in this year's and next year's campaigns. In essence, the NV-02 special election this year may likely become an "idea lab" where party messages on top issues like Medicare, job creation, foreclosures, and climate change are first tested on a real electoral playing field. And next year, Nevada may again prove to be a national bellwether as voters' verdicts here may ultimately tip the balance of power on Capitol Hill.

And again, redistricting will probably become a major wild card. While a court drawn map might dash Democratic hopes of securing at least 2 safe House seats, on the other hand a court will likely deny Republicans ANY safe seats. With The Nevada Supreme Court poised to put aside partisan politics and draw a "fair map", there may be as many as 3 competitive House races next year... And 3 more seats Democrats can gain to move closer to the ultimate goal of 24 seats to flip to retake The House.

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