Thursday, October 13, 2011

NV-0X: Horsford's In, Dem Field Is Set... And This Is a GOOD Thing

In case you've been hiding under a rock this past week, the big news is now official. Count Horsford in!

Steven Horsford, Nevada's Democratic majority leader, plans to run for the U.S. House in a bid that could see Nevada elect its first African-American to Congress and put the state Senate under the GOP's control.

Horsford told The Associated Press he will formally declare his candidacy Thursday in North Las Vegas. He hopes to succeed Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2012.

"It's a decision that I've taken very seriously," Horsford said Wednesday. "I'm very proud of many of the things we have been able to accomplish in the state Senate and I would like to build on some of those accomplishments in Congress." [...]

As the majority leader, Horsford was an early critic of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval's efforts to reduce education dollars and lobbied for higher taxes to pay for social services. He is a loyal Democratic player, serving as a national Democratic committee member and campaigning for President Barack Obama in 2008. Horsford's campaign website features a picture of his family with Obama in the Oval Office.

Republicans and Democrats alike describe him as charming, but a tough negotiator. In one instance, Horsford ordered all senators into their chamber and told sergeants-at-arms to find three missing lawmakers after the Legislature failed to compromise on public employee and retiree benefits during the 2009 session.

"We could argue all night and get up and shake hands," said Republican Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea. "He definitely has political savvy and clarity."

While the political powers that be have known this for several weeks, now everyone knows. And it's really not a bad thing.

Why has Patrick Coolican been in such a foul, lousy mood lately? I know we've seen some frustrating headlines, both locally and nationally, lately, but I don't get why he's been lashing out at Nevada's Congressional Candidates so harshly over it. He threw a fit last month when Ruben Kihuen announced he's running, and now he's doing the same to Steven Horsford. What, are no sitting legislators allowed to run for Congress?

I typically have great respect for Coolican and what he writes, but I don't get his logical pretzel twists over this. He says:

[... O]bviously it matters who controls Congress. Sometimes Congress gets stuff done.

For the most part, however, Washington is broken, mostly because of the godforsaken Senate filibuster, which forces Reid to get 60 votes out of 100 in the Senate just to start debate.

End the filibuster, and then I’d encourage our best and brightest, Republican and Democrat alike, to head to Washington to craft policy that will get America out of this slump.

Until then, I hate to see our finest young leaders waste their talents in such a wasteland while pressing needs at home go unmet.

But here's the thing: If we don't send better legislators to Washington, Congress will remain broken and "stuff" will never get done. And Coolican admitted himself that Horsford has a proven track record as a good legislator. So isn't someone like Steven Horsford exactly who we need in Congress right now?

Last month, he was saying that the likes of Horsford and Kihuen "can't solve our problems from Washington". Well, I have a news flash for him: On many issues, the solutions MUST start in Washington. Last I checked, Congress controls the federal purse strings. And Congress sets health care policy. And Congress can set in place new home foreclosure assistance. And perhaps most importantly, Congress can make the most difference in putting people back to work!

Yes, Coolican does have a point about Nevada needing tried and true leaders in our own legislature. However, I think we can find them even with Horsford and Kihuen gone. Hell, I think we caught a glimpse of one yesterday when Kyle Hansen, one of Coolican's colleagues at The Sun, profiled Senator Shirley Breeden (D-Henderson). I see strong progressives like Senator Sheila Leslie (D-Reno), and Assembly Members Peggy Pierce (D-Las Vegas) and Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D-Reno), as emerging leaders who can do plenty of good in Carson City in the not-too-distant future. I especially believe Horsford will leave Senate Democratic leadership in good hands (and hands that won't easily lose grip to a sleazeball like Mikey Roberson [R-Jerk]).

However, Nevada also needs to send tried and true leaders to Washington if we want to see progress on our policy priorities. And if Coolican still thinks they "can't solve our problems from Washington", I have two words for him: HARRY REID.

Harry Reid has led the way on many issues Nevadans care deeply about, such as creating green jobs now and building our renewable energy future. Really, where would we be without having the US Senate Majority Leader? Does Coolican really think that "doesn't matter"?

The fact of the matter is that who Nevadans send to Congress really does matter. And considering the outsized influence of the current crop of G-O-TEA crazies in Congress now, I would much rather have strong legislators who have learned to put their principles into practice in a pragmatic way than continue to suffer under extreme ideologues who only got to where they are now thanks to a few ideologically extreme billionaires who want to control, then destroy, every aspect of American government. And considering all the madness that's taken hold on the GOP side, it's good to see Nevada Democrats fielding strong Congressional Candidates who will be able to work with President Obama in 2013 and beyond on getting Nevada and the country back on track.

So with Horsford now in, it looks like the Democratic field is pretty much set. And as decor diva Martha Stewart would say, this truly is a good thing. Steven Horsford, Ruben Kihuen, John Oceguera, and Dina Titus are all experienced legislators, and especially Horsford and Titus have exceptionally strong track records of making progressive policy wishes into reality. So what's to complain about? And for that matter, why can't Nevada Republicans cough up more of their own candidates for Congress? Really, what are they afraid of?

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