Thursday, May 31, 2012

Los Desperados, Los Republicanos

Is this for real? Seriously, is this for real?

Wednesday morning, a series of speakers assailed President Barack Obama for failing to advance immigration reform, damaging the economy by restricting free enterprise and embracing liberal positions on social issues such as same-sex marriage.

“It’s time to say, ‘Enough with the lies, you failed us on immigration reform, and you are the most anti-immigrant president in the history of the United States,’” Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said to loud applause from the group gathered at the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Nevada Hispanics is an initiative of American Principles in Action, an affiliate of American Principles Project, a conservative organization founded by Princeton University professor Robert George. Aguilar’s Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles also is affiliated with American Principles Project.

WTF??!! So Obama is now "anti-immigrant"... Because Congress can't pass comprehensive immigration reform? Oh, and have they forgotten who's fought humane immigration reform all this time? Do they even really care?

After all, they're backing this guy who really seems to like this guy.

And this is far from an "isolated incident". Rather, Mitt Romney has a long history of embracing extreme anti-immigrant xenophobia. And now, some ridiculous teabagger astroturf outfit "Hispanic group" is trying to prop up Mittens by calling President Obama "anti-immigrant"?

Is this some sick joke? Or have Republicans really become this desperate?

How Does Today's DOMA Ruling Affect Us?

Heh. What a nice Thursday morning surprise to wake up to!

An appeals court ruled Thursday that the heart of a law that denies a host of federal benefits to gay married couples is unconstitutional.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston said the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, discriminates against married same-sex couples by denying them federal benefits.

The law was passed in 1996 at a time when it appeared Hawaii would legalize gay marriage. Since then, many states have instituted their own bans on gay marriage, while eight states have approved it, led by Massachusetts in 2004.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge who ruled in 2010 that the law is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage and denies married gay couples federal benefits given to heterosexual married couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns.

So President Obama's decision not to defend DOMA in court isn't looking so crazy, after all. As we've discussed before, denial of civil marriage equality is denial of equal protection under the law. However, the DOMA case also tackles states' rights in that the federal government has been refusing to treat legally married couples in certain states like it treats all other married couples. Why is the federal government not respecting all states' marriage laws and married couples?

In some ways, the DOMA case represents a bit of a legal role reversal from Lambda Legal's marriage equality law suit here in Nevada, where Governor Brian Sandoval is arguing that our state has the right to deny marriage licenses to gay & lesbian couples. So don't get too excited in trying to read tea leaves in Massachusetts as to how it affects the Question 2 challenge here. They are two separate cases tackling two different sets of issues. The DOMA law suit in Massachusetts is about the federal government's denial of federal marriage benefits to already married LGBTQ families, while the Question 2 law suit here in Nevada is about the state's marriage equality ban potentially violating the federal Constitution.

Still, today is another good day for equality in court. And certainly if both law suits succeed, then Nevada LGBTQ families will be doubly blessed in that both the state and federal governments will finally give us equal protection under the law.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Elizabeth Halseth & Karmic Revenge

Remember Elizabeth Halseth? Apparently, Sharrrrrrrrrrrrrron Angle's fan club local "tea partiers" actually want SD 9 voters to do just that. They even registered to redirect it to an attack ad linking GOP establishment favorite Mari Nakashima St. Martin and her "youthful indiscretions" to the Halseth scandal.

It's just funny to see Republicans turning Elizabeth Halseth into a campaign circle. But then again, I guess one could argue that this is just the Halseth story coming around full circle. Originally, she ran against a scandal plagued "establishment backed" incumbent as a "tea party" insurgent, then defeated him by questioning his "moral values". She then became a "tea party" favorite in Carson City and a fast rising Republican star.

But then, she vanished. And after several weeks of speculation and desperate moves by Senate Republican Leader Michael Roberson to keep her redesigned Senate seat off the table, Halseth resigned. That immediately put SD 9 into play and hurt Roberson's hopes of becoming Majority Leader.

So now, we have some deja vu. While there is no incumbent here, Mari Nakashima St. Martin is the Republican establishment favored candidate. She has their Senate Caucus' endorsement, and party leaders tried hard to coalesce the base behind her. But since she refuses to sign the Chuck Muth/Grover Norquist tax pledge, the "tea party" has gone all in for one of their own, Brent Jones. And now, Jones' allies are trying to pin scandals onto St. Martin. Again, it's starting to feel like deja vu here.

Funny enough, there is a twist here. This time around, Democrats found a top notch recruit in Justin Jones. And with Nevada Democrats ramping up field operations across the state for races all over the ballot, SD 9 may finally turn Blue this fall.

This is what has Nevada Republicans freaking out. Yet again, they have a bruising primary in SD 9 to survive. And this time, they must worry about the general election as well. Could this somehow be karmic revenge?

Why Romney Just Can't (Afford to) Quit Trump

Yesterday, we were reminded of the reasons why Mitt Romney is afraid to campaign here in Nevada. Today, Jon Ralston reminds us of another one.

It’s one thing to boast about how smart and successful and rich he is — Trump does that every day. But to try to tap into the worst instincts of some folks in the GOP base — and, I fear, too many Democrats and independents, too — with his hardly veiled racism consigns Trump to a category of unconscionable scoundrels and power-hungry demagogues who must be denounced, scorned and vilified.

Hello, darkness, my old Mitt.

It is this man who hosted the presumptive GOP nominee Tuesday evening in Las Vegas, who Mitt Romney tries to slough off as just like any other supporter (who hosts a $2 million fundraiser) who might have differing views (as if this is about a VAT or sanctions against Syria). To his credit, Romney was honest about what this is all about when asked by the national media over the holiday weekend, telling them, “I need to get 50.1 percent or more, and I’m appreciative to have the help of a lot of good people.”

Forget his Electoral College miscue — just ask George W. Bush about needing 50.1 percent or more to become president. Romney translated here is simple: “I am willing to grovel before this odious man because I need to play the politics of addition, even if that means subtracting my self-respect.”

Instead, so far at least (I write this before the Romney-Trump-Newt event Tuesday), Romney has refused to denounce Trump and simply repeated his contention that he believes Obama was born in the United States. Does anyone —even ardent Romney backers not drinking the Trump birther Kool-Aid — think that is enough?

Yep, Mitt Romney went groveling to "The Donald" (Trump). Oh yes, that's right, Mitt Romney still <3 Donald Trump!

But why, oh why, would Mittens embarrass himself like this? Ralston just doesn't understand... But TPM just might.

Romney has been loathe to pick fights with the right as he continues to consolidate support from conservatives suspicious of his late-life conversion to their cause. He never condemned Rush Limbaugh for his Sandra Fluke screed. After supporter Ted Nugent’s violent rhetoric prompted concern from the Secret Service, the Romney campaign mostly kept quiet except for a general plea for civility across party lines. The same month, Romney also refused to go after far-right social conservatives even as they hounded openly gay spokesman Ric Grenell until he resigned his position with the campaign.

In the case of Trump, there are additional considerations for Romney. For one thing, Trump is helping the campaign raise millions of dollars and potentially committing even more of his own personal fortune to the election thanks to post-Citizens United campaign finance laws.

But more importantly, Trump could be infinitely more dangerous as a spurned Romney supporter than as a troublesome surrogate. Trump may be the butt of cable news jokes, but polls have consistently shown him to be the most dangerous potential third-party candidate, with a large base of sympathizers on the right. Even if he doesn’t run, the prospect of an angry Trump on cable news blasting the Republican nominee as a traitor to the cause is an indignity that Romney wants to avoid.

Why, of course! Mittens can't afford to lose "The Donald" because if His Trumpness decides to "go rogue" and run for President himself as an Independent candidate, Romney may bleed teabagger support.

So that's what Mitt Romney means by focusing on attaining 50.1%. If Donald Trump leaves him, many more "tea partiers" may leave as well. And if that happens and the radical right becomes (even more) fractured (than it already is), then Mittens' political career is definitely over for good. And of course, that especially hurts poor lil' rich guy Willard because he's been running for President for nearly a decade!

So this is why Romney will continue to embrace Trump, even when sage pundits like Ralston are giving him good advice to do otherwise. If Romney loses the radical "tea party" right (again), then it's really all over for his political career. And if he has to ultimately go down, he might as well go down in flaming batshit crazy glory and land himself the eternal adoration of the Fox "News"/hate radio crowd.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Welcome Back to Nevada, Mitt Romney! What Took You So Long?

I wonder what took Mitt Romney so long to return to Nevada. It couldn't be...

If we follow Mitt Romney's advice to "let it run its course and hit the bottom", our economy will be in an even deeper hole that will be even more difficult to escape from. Housing has nearly always been the starting force in turning an economy from recession to recovery. So how do our communities benefit from empty homes? And yes, Romney's "do nothing and let the banks foreclose" policy prescription would lead to even more empty homes if implemented. And this leads to a "domino effect" of depressed home values, scared consumers, fewer home goods purchases, less construction, and fewer jobs. Properly addressing the home foreclosure crisis is not about "re-inflating the bubble", but rather restarting the economy.

Nope, it couldn't be...

The function of companies like Bain Capital and other alleged job-creators is NOT job creation. The purpose of the $60 billion under management Bain operation is to maximize shareholder value. Give Mr. Romney his due, he was a pioneer in revamping private equity management to the purposes of (1) growing earnings, (2) increasing dividends, and (3) increasing share prices. If jobs are created in the process, fine, but if jobs are sent off shore or eliminated entirely that is of no particular concern to the Financialists. Their bottom line is the shareholder value NOT the value of a trained workforce, an economically healthy community, or even an economically vibrant nation.

For the Wall Street investors who are supporting the Romney campaign, if the shareholders are happy, their proprietary trading desks are profitable, and the fees and commissions are rolling in All Is Well. What happens on the factory floor, in the local restaurants, at the local car dealership, or in the local barber shop is of no particular concern.

As the arguments are refined we may see that in some cases Bain Capital was a venture proposition, in others a vulture, and in still others a combination of both. The epithets will fly because this is a campaign season, but the political spiels should not gloss over the fact that the 2012 elections will highlight the very different economic perspectives of the GOP and its Wall Street financiers, and the Democrats who place more emphasis on the capacity of consumers to keep the demand side of the classic economic equation operational.

Oh no, that can't be it. It must be...

Mitt Romney is reaching for his Etch-A-Sketch because he's desperate to shake up and reset his campaign. His trouble with Latin@ and other minority voters is real, especially in key swing states that he would like to wrest away from Obama. PPP recently showed that Obama's support among Latino voters both here in Nevada and in Colorado is especially strong (so strong, in fact, that Obama now has healthy overall leads in both states), and now even PPP's newest Florida poll shows the same over there. Mittens now realizes he's in deep trouble, so he's grabbing that Etch-A-Sketch in a desperate move to reset his own campaign.

But seriously, can Willard make all of us forget what he was saying during G-O-TEA primary season? Remember that early this year, Willard's BFF Kris Kobach, the man behind such extreme, xenophobic "Papers, Please" state statutes like Arizona's infamous SB 1070 and its "copycats" in Alabama & Georgia, praised Mittens' commitment to anti-immigrant extremism. In fact, he exclaimed that "Romney stands far to the right" of the other G-O-TEA contenders on immigration.

Nah, that can't be it. After all, the local Latin@ comunidad is staging a welcome ceremony for Mittens! It must be...

Oh fuey, Romney has been doing so much to endear himself to LGBTQ voters, women, green collar workers, college students, and so many more Nevadans. Whatever could have taken Mittens so long to return to Nevada?

It couldn't be...

And even worse, Romney couldn't even count all the folks in John Ascuaga's Nugget this past weekend as his base! Even now, the bulk of Ron Paul's supporters refuse to endorse Romney... Even in the general election. And now that some of Ron Paul's biggest supporters are taking control of the Nevada Republican Party, big donors are threatening to bolt. And while that likely means money that would have gone to the Nevada GOP is instead being directed to pro-Romney SuperPACs, that still means money that can't be invested in the kind of GOTV (or "get out the vote") operation that Romney, along with down ballot GOP candidates, will need to win.

And since Ron Paul's campaign is still hellbent on causing even more trouble on the road to Tampa, it's denying Romney the chance to fully unite the base and redirect them from the primary fight to the general election. This is why Romney is in more trouble than some of the national polls suggest. With OFA building a strong field operation here in Nevada and throughout the country, Romney simply has no ground game to competently compete. And Ron Paul supporters are intent on keeping it that way [despite the fact that Paul has all but officially suspended his campaign!].

Or could it?

Nor'town on the Edge

Just how bad is North Las Vegas' budget crisis? Apparently, it's so bad that North Las Vegas' city manager wants the city council to officially "declare a disaster" in order to void union contracts with city workers. And apparently, it's now so bad that the entire rest of the state may suffer immensely if Nor'town collapses.

North Las Vegas indeed is facing an epic crisis, but it's just too easy for certain politicians in charge to place all the blame on unions. After all, Mayor Shari Buck had agreed to the very contracts she's now decrying. And Buck, not the police and fire unions, had the opportunity to turn the tide by scaling back the new City Hall to focus on keeping parks, libraries, and other essential service open, as well as develop a master plan to guide the city in pursuing realistic development options for all the city's empty land. Instead, Shari Buck and other city "leaders" wasted all that time chasing "magical pots of gold" (aka "casino row", unnecessary new housing, etc.) that only turned out to be mirages in the open desert.

Without a doubt, the city has made many poor decisions in the last decade and it's downright ridiculous for certain folks on North Las Vegas' city council to act "innocent" now when they supported the very policies that provided fuel when the recession caught fire and swept into the valley in full force. However, this can't entirely be laid on city "leaders", either. After all, the city can't control any tax policy. Rather, the state has been shortchanging Nor'town with lopsided C-Tax policies that provide more funding for Las Vegas and Henderson while returning far less revenue to North Las Vegas AND forcing Nor'town to run its own libraries. (The state directly funds public libraries in Las Vegas, Henderson, and unincorporated Clark County.)

And then, of course, there's that recession. Because North Las Vegas has more concentrated poverty than most of the rest of Clark County, it's always had more revenue problems. But when that's combined with fast new "boomtown" neighborhoods selling at grossly inflated prices and coupled with retail centers under construction, that makes a recipe for disaster. Really, all it took with the housing collapse and the onset of "The Great Recession" to cause North Las Vegas' house of cards to start tumbling down. And with so many deflated home values, empty retail centers, continued poverty hurting many city residents, and (again) a lack of proper planning to deal with anybody this, North Las Vegas was really doomed for disaster.

So really, it was a combination of poor planning, poor leadership, and no action to address the still poor people that led Nor'town into the mess it's now mired in. But now, it will take not just the entire city, but the entire valley and perhaps even the entire state to solve this crisis. After all, if North Las Vegas falls, then the entire Southern Nevada economy is at risk from the resulting bad media and the horrifying effects of the lack of government in a large portion of Clark County. And if our economy takes a hit, then the entire state ultimately suffers.

So really, Nor'town needs "an extreme makeover" at city hall ASAP. The people of this city need better local leadership and a real game plan to end this crisis. If they don't get this, then we're all at grave risk.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Look Inside SD 1 (Lee v. Spearman Primary)

Last Thursday, a friend asked me to go with her to check out a hot campaign in North Las Vegas. Guess where I ended up. If you guessed Senate District 1, then you're correct!

Nevada Priorities PAC, the progressive coalition supporting Pat Spearman's campaign, was fired up and ready to go yesterday morning at Seastrand Park in North Las Vegas. By 9:30 AM, there were at least a dozen volunteers ready to go out and walk. There were local feminist activists, LGBTQ equality activists, and environmentalists all huddling up and grabbing walk packets. It was quite the sight.

It was also interesting to see what's actually been happening on the ground in North Las Vegas. In the precinct my friend went to, it was about an even split... Between undecided Democrats and Spearman supporters. There were very few Lee supporters. Apparently, that's been the norm for Nevada Priorities' field campaign so far. Pat Spearman has been working hard in the field, and now she's reaping the rewards.

However, that still doesn't mean beating the incumbent Senator is easy. To the contrary, John Lee has some key business lobby power players behind him, so he can't be counted out. He also has people in the field, as his flyers were still on a couple doorsteps in the neighborhood we visited yesterday. Voters here are also getting plenty of phone calls and mail drops from both sides, and the activity won't cease until the last polling sites close on Primary Election Day.

Yesterday was the first day of early voting, so it was especially important for Nevada Priorities to knock plenty of doors. Both they and Lee supporters are targeting Democratic primary voters who regularly vote, as they are the ones who nearly always determine primary results. As we've discussed before, this is where John Lee likely runs into trouble. And now, the fate of his political career lies in their hands.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Nevada Primary Preview

Even though our official primary date is June 12, voting in our primary actually begins today as early voting kicks off. So with that being said, I figured now's a good time to give you a heads up on all the important races and how they will be affected by this first opportunity for Nevada voters to choose Members of Congress and State Legislators in their new districts. So let's get to the races!


Since NV-01 & NV-02 are shaping up to be the safe seats with the likely winners already known (Democrat Dina Titus for 1, Republican Mark Amodei for 2), Nevada's political junkies will mostly be keeping a close eye on NV-03 and NV-04. In NV-03, we'll be monitoring how far above 50% incumbent Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and challenger John Oceguera (D-Paradise) finish in their respective primaries. In NV-04, Steven Horsford (D-North Las Vegas) faces no primary, but the Republicans do. Danny Tarkanian has been considered the GOP frontrunner, but last minute momentum for State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Spring Valley) and "private sector guy" Dan Schwartz makes a surprise upset win for either of them very much possible.


Since we have several key Senate and Assembly races that will determine the balance of power in Carson City, we will be watching several primaries to see how the swing seat races are developing, as well as to see some dramatic primary challenges in what had been "safe seats" for certain incumbents and hand picked successors.

SD 1 (North Las Vegas)

This is the primary that Nevada's progressives are most excited about. Senator John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) has a history of bucking the party line and joining with Republicans on key budget votes and against environmental and anti-discrimination legislation. He's also anti-choice and against marriage equality. So in perhaps one of the most surprising moves of the election cycle, a coalition of pro-environment, pro-union, pro-women, and pro-LGBTQ equality activists teamed up to support military veteran, ordained minister, and out African-American lesbian Pat Spearman in challenging Lee. While Lee leads in the always important money race, progressives are not letting that deter them from their goal of getting a more reliable progressive legislator elected in this seat that will definitely stay in Democratic hands in November.

SD 5 (Henderson)

While SD 1 may be a safe seat in the general election, 5 is not. It's been redesigned as a 56% Obama/54% Reid district that Republicans are playing hard to win. However, they've run into a bit of a SNAFU here. Former Henderson City Council Member Steve Kirk (R) is the annointed party favorite, but the "tea party" is refusing to fall in line. Instead, local "tea partiers" are rallying around local doctor Annette Teijero. What makes this picture even uglier is that Nevada Republicans have tried desperately to drive a wedge between the Latino community and the Democratic Party, and to show Latinos that "los Republicanos" care about them. So for party leadership to give Teijero the shaft hurts there as well as with efforts to get the "tea party" to cooperate with them.

While Kirk likely has the upper hand here, Teijero has been working the field early and hard, and can't really be counted out. Whoever wins the GOP primary will go up against Democrat Joyce Woodhouse (who's uncontested on the Dem side) for the chance to succeed retiring Senator Shirley Breeden (D-Henderson).

SD 9 (Enterprise)

This may be the Senate seat most likely to change hands (from GOP to Dem) in November, but the primaries here haven't been too exciting so far. Democrat and star attorney Justin Jones is expected to move onto the general. Yet while former Nevada Republican Party spokesperson Mari Nakashima St. Martin has the advantage in her primary, she is being challenged by "tea party" darling Brent Jones (no relation to Justin). If there's any potential for an upset, it's likely on the GOP side.

The general election in this Southwest Vegas Valley district will determine the replacement of recently resigned State Senator (and newly minted Maxim model!) Elizabeth Halseth (R-Enterprise).

SD 11 (Spring Valley)

Senate 11 is turning out to be an odd duck of a race. The Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus recruited 2010 SD 12 candidate and rising "legal eagle" superstar Aaron Ford to run in this safe seat west of I-15 to succeed retiring Senate President Pro-tem Mike Schneider (D-Spring Valley). However, Senate Democratic leaders ran into a problem when Former Assembly Member and local environmentalist favorite Harry Mortenson (D-Spring Valley) also decided to run. Mortenson first positioned himself as "the true progressive" in the race by endorsing a corporate tax... Yet he's now endorsed by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce! Try to explain that.

Whoever wins, Democrats need not worry.

SD 18 (Las Vegas)

This newly created Northwest Vegas Valley district is a rarity in that it features hot primaries on both sides as well as a competitive general election. On the Republican side, Nevada Senate Republican Caucus endorsed Assembly Member Scott Hammond (R-Las Vegas) must face "tea party" favored Assembly Member Richard MacArthur (R-Las Vegas). Meanwhile on the Democratic side, businesswoman (and wife of Las Vegas City Council Member & Blue Dog Steve Ross) Kelli Ross must face former PTA education activist and progressive favorite Donna Schlemmer. It will be interesting to see here how the establishment picks (Hammond & Ross) fare against candidates more beloved to the grassroots base (MacArthur & Schlemmer).

AD 9 (Enterprise/Summerlin South)

This new Southwest Valley Assembly seat may be competitive in the fall, but so far Democrat Andrew Martin and Republican Victoria DeLaGuerra-Seaman now look like the favorites in their respective primaries, but there may still be potential for a surprise here, so this may be worth watching.

AD 10 (Las Vegas)

While this West Las Vegas district shouldn't give Democrats any problems come November, leadership must worry at least a bit about primary problems now. Assembly Member Joe Hogan (D-Las Vegas) is running for reelection, but he's run into recent legal trouble... And local HOA activist Jonathan Freidrich is taking advantage of it. While Hogan is still the favorite, an upset is now possible, depending on turnout.

AD 13 (Las Vegas)

This is another hot race all around. On the Republican side, Assembly GOP Caucus backed Paul Anderson is being challenged by "tea party" backed Leonard Foster. And on the Democratic side, Assembly Democratic Caucus backed construction workers union guy Lou DeSalvio is being challenged by progressive community activist Leisa Moseley.

The primary winners will go onto the general election to replace Scott Hammond, who's now running for Senate. (See SD 18 above.)

AD 20 (Paradise/Henderson)

This new Sunset Park, Green Valley North, and Whitney Ranch based Assembly seat will likely be decided in the Democratic primary, so what happens in the next two weeks determines everything. Former Assembly Member Ellen Spiegel moved to rub here, but she's being challenged by attorney Kent Ivey and Gloria Bonaventura. Spiegel has the Assembly Democratic Caucus' support along with several unions, but Ivey has deep pockets, some deep community support, and can't be counted out.

AD 21 (Henderson/Silverado Ranch)

Assembly Member Mark Sherwood (R-Henderson) is stepping down after one term, so this race is now wide open. On the GOP side, attorney & "PTA mom" Becky Harris has all the establishment support... But Swadeep Nigam is on the Clark County GOP executive board and is piling up "tea party" support as well. On the Dem side, attorney & "PTA dad" Steve Parke looks to be local progressives' favorite candidate, and he's going against Assembly Democratic Caucus endorsed Dr. Andy Eisen and retired carpenter union official Rick Wilkening.

AD 39 (Rural Northern Nevada)

Assembly Member Kelly Kite (R-Minden) shouldn't have anything to worry about theoretically in this safe GOP seat. However, he's being challenged from the far right by "tea party" backed candidate Jim Wheeler. Since they feel Kite is too "pro tax", "tea party" aligned groups are pushing hard for Wheeler. Whoever wins this primary is assured to win the general.

And that's all, folks! Happy Early Voting, and come back on June 12 to see what actually happens.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

NV-04: (The) Delusions of Grandeur (Continue)

And now, we interrupt the regularly scheduled serious policy discussion to check up on the latest G-O-TEA nonsense in the wide open race for the new NV-04 US House seat. Last night's debate in Pahrump was quite memorable for the forays into important policy matters... Like President Obama's birth certificate, impeaching President Obama for capturing Osama bin Laden & helping the people of Libya get rid of a ruthless tyrant, and arguing over who's the most batshit crazy "tea partier" (since that's now an asset in G-O-TEA primaries!).

And that came just about 48 hours after this special "Face to Face" NV-04 Republican debate that was rich with embarrassments!

Stay klassy, Nevada G-O-TEA!

No really, this is getting pathetic. Seriously, Nevada Republicans, this is all you have? And you wonder why we consider your party such an EPIC FAIL? Really, who considers Barbara Cegavske, Dan Schwartz, or Danny Tarkanian a "serious candidate"?

There's a whole lot that Nevada Democrats will have to fight hard for to win, even with President Obama doing well here. Seriously, NV-04 is not looking like one of those races. And if any "tea party" folk say otherwise, then they're full of delusions of grandeur.

How Do We Right the Wrongs in the Legislature?

Yesterday, we discussed the growing problem of legislators favoring big donors' wants over their own constituents' needs. Today, we see even more of this as we get a better sense of who's donating to whom and why.

And again, I'm not going to lie about the scope of this problem. While Republicans indeed benefit the most from cool corporate cash, there are some Democrats who line up at that trough as well. And while this kind of "bipartisanship" gives some pundits and lobbyists the warm fuzzies, it can be revolting to Nevadans hoping and yearning for a better future.

Why? Again, I must point to the always wise Jim Rogers for the answer.

We now seem to understand what is going on in the economy around us. When Nevada was rolling in money, 95% of its population would have said – “Who needs a college education? You can make a hundred thousand dollars a year even if you can’t read. “

The result of this idiotic thinking was that we invested little if anything in education. Then the bottom dropped out of the economy and we found ourselves in a world of reality where those who are uneducated will no longer be a part of our economy when it returns to full strength.

Many politicians in this state love to talk about how much they "love education" and "support schools". Yet for all the supposed warm fuzzies there, we continue to underfund public education at an atrocious level. And as long as public school funding remains at its current atrocious level, Nevada students can't reach their full potential. And that means our economy can't reach its full potential.

And as we've talked about before, the key hurdle to solving the state's chronic budget mess is fixing the state's broken tax code. Yet as long as moneyed corporate interests continue to bankroll several "business conservative" Republican and "pro-business Blue Dog" Democratic legislators, we'll never see the critical mass needed in Carson City to embark on progressive tax reform and restoring investment in needed public infrastructure. Union workers in this state now understand this brutal reality, and that's why they're now willing to take their proposed business tax directly to the people.

So we Nevada voters (especially those of us who can't afford to hand out $5,000 campaign checks like lollipops) have to ask ourselves this: What are we willing to do to fix this broken system and redirect Carson City's focus on the right priorities? Should we look to California, and specifically our next door neighbor's habit of ballot box budgeting, as a way to circumvent the Legislature? Or do we need to double down on finding ways to fix state government and make it more responsive to the needs of Nevada's future?

These are tough questions, but Nevada's progressives need to develop good answers soon, before it's too late.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Who Should Be Nevada Lawmakers' "Special Interests"

Both Jon Ralston and Anjeanette Damon have been tweeting campaign finance as financial disclosure reports have been coming. Unsurprisingly, several Legislature incumbents have been raking in the most corporate cash. In particular, "business establishment" favorites like Senators Greg Brower (R-Reno) and John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) have raised six figure sums thanks to their "juice" with the likes of the Chamber of Commerce. And since this "legal" bribery is bipartisan, what's not to like?

Well, this.

Can you get a good quality education at UNR and UNLV? Of course you can. But wouldn’t you want the best college education possible from a school that attracts the best students and the best faculty? I would.

Both UNR and UNLV are not the best – they are not even close to being the best.

Nevada has always had the capacity, but never the desire to build world-class universities. That has hurt our ability to attract high tech business and to build very sophisticated financial centers.

Yet again, Jim Rogers got it right on the money. So long as Carson City continues to shortchange public education, our kids are not seeing the bright opportunities that they deserve. And as long as certain big corporate special interests continue to get their way in Carson City, our state will never obtain the revenue needed to properly fund public education.

This is the cold, hard, brutal reality of Nevada politics. Pundits discuss fundraising like it's a football game. And yes, playing this game is necessary to succeed in the broken system we now have. And no, not everyone who's ever been endorsed by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce is evil. It's just pitiful that real reform and sustainable growth never seem to be top priorities, and it doesn't seem like a strange coincidence that the moneyed corporate interests that donate the most always get the most out of state government.

If only Nevada students and teachers could play this game this well...

Finally, Someone Gets Nevada's State of Play

Thank you, TPM. It's nice to check a national blog and see more than pointless gibberish.

Jim Williams, an analyst for PPP, told TPM that Obama has made large gains in Nevada since last October, when his firm found the president’s approval rating under water. In the same survey, Nevada voters viewed Romney favorably by a narrow margin. Williams said the candidates’ fortunes can both be tied to the state’s middle-of-the-road voters.

“Obama has improved his standing with independents since the fall, while Romney has dropped,” Williams said. “I think that’s due in large part to the long Republican primary, which put Romney in a very negative light, especially with independent voters and that’s been more pronounced in Nevada. Romney had some crossover appeal with independents and Democrats in Nevada, but that’s gone now.”

Hmmm, I wonder why? Could it be? Could it be Romney's record of vulture capitalism at Bain? Could it be "culture war" fatigue? Or could it be the "revolution" that's scaring even Republicans away from their own party? Honestly, I suspect it's all of the above!

Oh yes, and there's this.

Moreover, Nevada’s demographics —much like the entire Mountain West — are also conducive to Obama’s re-election hopes, with a population that is skewing younger and more Hispanic. The state is also home to several influential unions, which powered Obama’s win there in 2008 and helped Sen. Harry Reid (D) survive a competitive re-election fight in 2010. Those coalitions will likely prove more significant than Nevada’s large Mormon population, a group whose role in Romney’s landslide victory in the state’s Republican caucuses was amplified due to a relatively small voter turnout.

If several key voting groups ultimately help Obama overcome a weak economy and stagnant job market en route to a win in Nevada, the triumph will give the president more than just the six electoral votes at stake: It may point the way toward re-election, even without a sharp economic turnaround.

If there's "Mittmentum" building among the Beltway pundits, we're still not seeing it here. It's really a combination of the continued Nevada GOP clusterf*ck, continuing frustration with Romney and his pandering to the "tea party", and continuing demographic changes that make Nevada a tougher nut for the RNC to crack. Add in the strong Democratic Party organization here, and life just becomes even tougher for RNC operatives being "parachuted" into town. While OFA & Democrats still have no reason to grow complacent, there's also no reason to panic.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

RIP Kermitt Waters Tax Initiative

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Farewell, Kermitt Waters tax initiative.

Part of a lawsuit filed by Waters to get a tax initiative on the ballot — this one exempting large casinos —was rejected by Clark County District Court Judge Jerry Wiese in Las Vegas.

Waters, a Las Vegas eminent domain attorney known as an advocate for citizen access to the ballot, said he hadn’t seen the ruling issued by Wiese on Tuesday but probably would appeal it to the Nevada Supreme Court. He’s also prosecuting a separate part of the lawsuit in federal court. [...]

Wiese also refused to extend a fast-approaching deadline for Waters to collect signatures for his initiative, likely leaving the Nevada Supreme Court as Waters’ only hope to get his measure on the 2012 ballot.

During a hearing Monday in Wiese’s courtroom before the judge issued his ruling, Waters wasn’t surprised when attorneys who showed up to fight him were representing the mining and retail industries as well as the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada Development Authority and the Nevada Taxpayers Association.

These same parties will all likely collide again in the federal part of the case and in Waters’ planned state Supreme Court appeal.

“The last thing Wall Street wants is for this to go to a vote of the people,” Waters said. “They run this state like a plantation.”

When I talked with Kermitt Waters back in February, even Waters himself seemed to suspect this would happen. Of course, he figured the powers that be would always orchestrated this. But at the end of the day, no one could deny that Nevada's single subject rule would pose problems for Waters' initiative that addressed everything from mining taxes to the state's public education budget to renewable energy investment to even new state appellate courts!

I always thought Waters had the best of intentions. He's just so disgusted by Carson City's culture of corruption that he doesn't trust them to do anything. I just wondered how most Nevada voters could wrap their heads around an initiative that reworks the entire budget upon one touch of one finger (on the touch screen voting machine).

At least progressives aren't completely without hope. With the Nevada AFL-CIO & NSEA again locking arms for their business tax initiative that's apparently been redesigned to withstand legal challenges, progressives probably have the best opportunity ever to begin changing the state's conversation on taxes and the state budget. Waters' bold and dramatic tax reform initiative may be dying a slow and ugly death, but at least overall hope for tax reform is still very much alive and well.

Brian Sandoval's "Moderate" Support for Marriage Discrimination

Oh, yes. This must be a top priority for Governor Sandoval. He's now throwing a temper tantrum and demanding that the federal court taking the historic law suit challenging Nevada's Question 2 marriage equality ban throw out this suit.

Gov. Brian Sandoval is asking a federal court to toss a lawsuit challenging Nevada's ban on same-sex marriage.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the governor says marriage is a state issue, not a federal one, and the challenge shouldn't be pursued in federal court.

His written response came from Wayne Howle of the state attorney
general's office.

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the lawsuit April 10 on behalf of eight same-sex couples. The suit claims the couples are being discriminated against because they can't call their partnerships a marriage.

What. A. FAIL!

Brian Sandoval is a lawyer, so he's supposed to know the law. Why can't he see what I see and what many other lawyers and lay folk clearly see?

So the Sevcik case here in Nevada will come down to whether domestic partnership actually provides "equal protection under the law", and if we can ever have true equal protection as long as the Question 2 marriage ban remains on the books. Unlike AFER's argument for a broad, nationwide fundamental right to marry that's being made in the Perry case in California, Lambda Legal is making a narrower argument based on the inequality present in Nevada family law and how that can not make federal Constitutional muster. It looks like Lambda Legal is confident that even if some federal judges are hesitant to use one stroke to knock down all the state marriage bans at once, they have to closely examine situations like ours and realize that we're experiencing clear and illegal discrimination.

Marriage actually becomes a federal issue when a state's marriage law violates Americans' federal constitutional rights. And last I checked, when federal constitutional problems emerges, plaintiffs go to federal court to seek a remedy. That's why we have federal courts!

Oh, and why didn't Governor Sandoval see the episode of "Face to Face" when Jon Ralston invited two of the plaintiffs on his show to discuss the impact Question 2 has on their lives?

For someone supposedly so "moderate" and "open minded", Brian Sandoval seems to be awfully closed minded when it comes to supporting discrimination against LGBTQ Nevadans. Why is that? Question 2 was enacted a decade ago, and most Nevadans have been evolving on marriage equality alongside the likes of President Obama and Harry Reid.

So remember this next time some right-wing pundit blabbers on about how "moderate" Brian Sandoval supposedly is.

Thanks, Pat Hickey... But Where Were You Last Year?

How many times have we talked about the endless culture of corruption in Carson City? And how many times have we suffered in agony as politicians and media pundits played petty blame games while ignoring the real solution to this problem? Nevada has endured an ongoing merry-go-round of corruption in state government since... Well, really since we first became a state!

So are we now ready for real change? And will this change be led by a conservative Republican who's next in line to lead the Assembly Republican Caucus next year? This just seems too good to be true.

Assembly Republican leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, made swings in Carson City and Las Vegas on Monday, touting his ideas to beef up campaign finance reporting requirements.

Flanked by Assembly Republicans and candidates for office, he pitched five bullet points that he said should be a top priority when the Legislature next meets in 2013, including reporting contributions in real time, requiring candidates to report ending fund balances, and reporting trips and gifts from lobbyists and donors when the Legislature is not in session.

But many of the ideas have been proposed before, only to die with little evidence of who did the deed.

While the Legislature passed reform last year that requires electronic filing and allows reports to be searched — what Miller called “the most significant campaign finance reforms passed in state history" — lawmakers shied away from stiffer measures.

This really does look like a great idea and a nice way to bring some real campaign finance reform to Nevada. So yes, I appreciate Pat Hickey's proposal and his newfound zeal to change the way this state is governed. And yes, I really do mean it.

However, I must still ask this: Why now? Why is Pat Hickey doing this now? Last I checked, the Legislature is not in session.

And as Former Senator and current Senate candidate Sheila Leslie noted in Anjeanette Damon's Sun article today, this is not the first time that the Legislature tried to tackle campaign finance reform.

“People in the system like the system the way it is,” Leslie, the bill’s sponsor, said Monday. “They like the status quo. They don’t see the need to change it.”

She added that, on the Assembly side, neither Republican nor Democratic leadership were helpful in pushing her bill for a vote.

“The animosity toward the bill came from both sides,” she said. “There was equal opportunity hostility to the bill.”

She called Assembly Republicans bringing forward this issue now “a little hypocritical” but said, “I welcome them to the transparency bandwagon.”

Sheila Leslie was referring to SB 206, her bill which would have required lobbyists to file reports on lobbying activity occurring when the Legislature is not in session. It actually passed unanimously in the Senate. But for some reason, it died in the Assembly. I wonder why?

Here's a hint: Take a look at the minutes of the hearing SB 206 received in the Assembly's Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. In particular, notice the hostile tone of several Assembly Members of both parties. When Pat Hickey had the chance to "carpe diem" and build on the strong bipartisan support that Leslie's pro-transparency bill earned in the Senate, he punted... And he pretty much joined his colleagues in showing deep hostility towards this bill.

Assemblyman Hickey:
You mentioned unpaid lobbyists. I assume one must pay a lobbying registration fee during the session. Do they then have to pay an additional fee during the interim?

Senator Leslie:
That would be something the Legislative Commission would have to set— whether it would be one fee every two years, an annual fee, or one fee during the session. This bill does not cover those types of decisions. Right now, a nonpaid veteran lobbyist pays nothing. A nonpaid lobbyist pays $20, and a paid lobbyist pays $300 for the session. I imagine the Legislative Commission would review those regulations and make that determination. I am not trying to make money with this bill. For the first time, we raised the lobbying fees significantly, and it was a revenue-generating act, but that is not my intent.

Assemblyman Hickey:
Lobbyists should report campaign contributions, so the point of this bill is obviously about transparency, but what perceived problem are you trying to address?

Senator Leslie:
What I have heard from my constituents is that there is a public perception that there is a lot of lobbying activity, and that lobbyists are paying for things for legislators such as golf games, fancy dinners, or whatever it might be. As a result, there is a lot of consternation that that activity is not reported. The public just wants to know. This is purely about sunshine. If it is so important that we have them report during session, I believe it is equally important that they also report out of session, when a lot of planning and legislative activity— interim committees or planning for the next session—happens. It is good government to have this kind of reporting. Most states do have year-round reporting, but of course most states meet more often than we do.

Assemblyman Hickey:
Mr. Murphy's [a Clark County lobbyist] house needs painting. Should I paint it? Is that something my business should report?

Senator Leslie:
No, it is not about you; it is about Mr. Murphy. If Mr. Murphy was the painter and was painting your house for free or giving you a discount, yes, that should be reported. It is not about you.

So why did Hickey say that then? And why is he trying to cast blame on everyone but himself for past failed reform efforts? He had a chance to champion SB 206 last year, when the Legislature was actually in session and something could have been done. Why did we wait until now to propose his reform package?

Again, I genuinely appreciate what Hickey is saying and doing now. This is exactly the kind of conversation that we need to have. However the Legislature is not in session now. We haven't even...

Oh wait, that's right! This is an election year. Ah yes, strange things happen in election years. All of a sudden, proposals that never saw the light of day suddenly become the campaign centerpiece as soon as they poll well. Now, I get it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Will Nevada Republicans Put State Interests Above Party Politics?

So he's out. (Federal) Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Greg Jazcko announced his resignation this morning. And since Congressional Republicans were already making noise about reviving the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump here in Nevada, it's likely that they'll try to shove it down our throats yet again as Congress must now find a replacement.

So this leaves the Republicans in Nevada's Congressional Delegation in a pickle. Do they do what's best for the state by joining the bipartisan coalition to prevent Nevada from becoming a radioactive wasteland? Or do they obey the commands from national G-O-TEA leadership to screw Nevada once and for all?

Mark Amodei has already turned his back on his constituents by supporting efforts to reopen Yucca and start "nuclear reprocessing activities" in our state. Oh, and we can't forget that Joe Heck actually got this toxic ball rolling with his amendment to allow "nuclear processing" at Yucca. What neither of them wants to admit is that even their preferred "compromise" is actually nothing more than a back door for their G-O-TEA colleagues to sneak dangerous nuclear material into Nevada.

Really, it's a shame that Heck and Amodei have sold us down the river to curry favor with the nuclear power industry and House Republican leadership. Despite the fact that even prominent Republicans like Governor Brian Sandoval and Senator Dean Heller oppose nuclear activity at Yucca, they don't seem to care. Instead, they're pressing on and trying to make us swallow the nuclear industry's toxic crap.

So now, we must wait and see if they will continue to capitulate. Oh, and we'll have to wait and see just how strong Heller's opposition to Yucca really is. If his US Senate G-O-TEA colleagues filibuster Jazcko's NRC replacement, will Heller join them? Or will he let that position be filled so the NRC can continue its work? What happens in the coming days will tell us plenty about our Republican Congresscritters' true commitment to our state, the state that they're supposed to represent and serve.

Explaining Nevada Republicans' Existential Crisis

The Nevada G-O-TEA's reenactment of "Lord of the Flies" is turning out to be quite the stunning performance. In fact, it's so convincing that it's scaring Republican insiders in DC. And it's making them find ways to circumvent their own state party.

To hear some Republicans tell it, the disarray of their state party apparatus isn’t much to worry about.

After all, they’ve got the cavalry coming in the form of nearly unlimited spending from outside political nonprofit groups, which can blanket the airwaves with ads and even pinch hit in the all-important ground game.

The money part is true. Crossroads GPS, the Karl Rove-founded political organization, just launched an expensive, monthlong ad blitz in Las Vegas.

And Americans for Prosperity, funded by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch, has been busy knocking on doors, identifying voters and building the turnout machine that’s usually run by the state party.

But can a patchwork of unaffiliated political groups — which by law cannot coordinate with any candidate’s campaign — run as efficient an operation as the joined efforts of a candidate and the party?

That's where they run into trouble all over again. After all, it's taken a whole lot of time and a whole lot of "sweat equity" for Harry Reid and his allies to build up "The Nevada Democratic Machine" that's become famous for turning Nevada Blue and dramatically reshaping the political calculus in this state. Can Sheldon Adelson and a handful of other right-wing billionaires really swoop in and save Mitt Romney & the entire G-O-TEA ticket by pumping up their Super PACs for the next five months?

“At first impression, [Harry] Reid has been very successful and Adelson hasn’t,” said Dan Hart, a Nevada Democratic strategist. “If it comes down to turnout, in a close race, Democrats win because of that foundation that’s been built by Sen. Reid. He’s a master of the science of politics, versus the art of politics. Sheldon Adelson’s more about the art of politics — you know, let’s toss a (money) bomb in the room, see what we can blow up.”

There’s a limit, though, to how much money can do in the state.

“Nevada’s a cheap date, in that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a big impact here,” said Robert Uithoven, a Republican strategist. “Statewide, you have two media markets, one larger than average and one smaller than average, and those two media markets hit 95 percent of our population — and that’s 95 percent of our voters.” [...]

The Nevada Republican Party has lagged, desperate for a similar Reid-like sherpa to infuse the organization with, well, organization.

Ever since Gov. Kenny Guinn left office, the Nevada Republican Party has lacked a central, formidable figure capable of keeping it in line. Things have descended into such a state of disarray in recent months that national party officials are importing reserves to set up a “shadow” state GOP — a move that may smooth coordination of the 2012 campaigns but, with few roots in Nevada, won’t likely flourish beyond November.

The confusion has left Adelson — an emergent force in 2012 but historically a deep-pocketed political dilettante — as the most influential Nevada Republican almost by default.

“There’s not, in a sense, a single godfather for the Republican party, in the way Reid performs that role for the Democrats,” said Eric Herzik, professor of political science at UNR. “Adelson plays at politics. When there’s an issue he cares about, he’s got the money, and he can walk in and get attention. Harry Reid plays for keeps and plays every day. ... He’s there in every election.”

And that's the key difference. Even if Sheldon Adelson and the pro-Romney Super PACs limit Democratic success this cycle, they don't bode well for the long term health of Republicans in this state. After all, Democrats had to learn this lesson the hard way. In 2004, the roles were reversed and the Nevada Democratic Party had the weak sauce and lack of strong organization. Many Democrats and progressives genuinely thought the party's ill condition ultimately wouldn't matter because the likes of George Soros, left-friendly Hollywood power players, and MoveOn were funding 527s to turn out votes for John Kerry. Remember how that turned out? At least their failure compelled Harry Reid and his allies to rebuild the Nevada Democratic Party and transform it into "the well oiled machine" that we know it to be today.

In many ways, the crisis facing Nevada Republicans now is far worse than the problems facing Nevada Democrats in 2004. The primary/caucus process has exposed deep divisions in the right, and no establishment Republicans have any interest in saving the Nevada Republican Party any more. So what they have left is a "revolution" that RNC leadership would rather not have televised... And a bunch of Super PACs that will close shop after November and leave Republicans with that very "revolution" at their doorstep that they refuse to let inside.

And this expalins Nevada Republicans' existential crisis.

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Lee v. Spearman SD 1 Primary Comes Down to: Values

According to an article in today's Sun, State Senator John Lee (D-North Las Vegas) is quite glad to get by with a little help from his friends.

Lee’s original plan this year was to abandon his Senate seat in favor of running for Congress. He was expected to challenge a darling of the Democratic establishment, Sen. Steve Horsford, in the 4th Congressional District.

But Lee’s decision to drop out of the congressional race seems to have earned him the protection of the Democratic establishment against the liberal activists intent on driving him from office.

Assemblyman Kelvin Atkinson, D-North Las Vegas, who had announced he was running for Lee’s Senate seat, decided to move rather than challenge Lee. Other candidates whom progressives tried to recruit to run against Lee also backed out, before Spearman filed on the last day. [...]

“John is very thankful and grateful for the support of the Democratic Party and Democratic constituents,” said Ryann Juden, Lee’s campaign adviser. “He’s happy and thankful to have their support.”

He said the party’s support has “absolutely” helped.

“In the traditional way a party helps a campaign,” he said. The party has helped provide volunteers and “resources necessary to get out and connect with voters.”

The Democratic Party declined to comment for this story.

That's because the Nevada Democratic Party itself can not endorse in a primary. State and county party bylaws prohibit that. However, the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus has endorsed John Lee. You can see here how "excited" Senate Caucus leader Mo Denis (D-North Las Vegas) was to endorse Lee on live TV.

I suspect other folks listed as endorsers in Lee's recent mailer were much more excited to do it. In addition to a few unions and Democratic electeds, the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce endorsed Lee. Remember them? They held up the state budget last year over their preferred legislation weakening benefits and workplace protections for public sector workers. Several other corporate lobby regulars, such as Barrick (mining), Bank of America & the state bankers' PAC, CenturyLink, and the realtors' PAC, also seem quite happy to support.

However contrary to what Lee operatives were hoping, the entire Democratic base isn't exactly on board with his campaign. It's mainly because of whose opinion he seems to value the most.

And not only are the state's progressive groups making noise about their disappointment with John Lee, but they're also backing that up with a real campaign. While they may not be able to fully compete with Lee's "business lobby" support, they are firing back with mailers, web campaigning, and a grassroots field effort.

Here's another key excerpt of David Schwartz's Sun article.

“We think this is the right thing to do, to stand up for Democratic values in a Democratic primary,” said Erin Neff, executive director of ProgressNow Nevada.

Members of the coalition, including the Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, Nevada Conservation League and Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Action Network, “get it,” Neff said.

“They’re putting their name out there in a very difficult way,” she said. “It’s not easy to stand up to your own party.”

Lee, a conservative Democrat, has been progressives’ enemy in Carson City. He often votes against Democratic majorities on key issues for liberals such as domestic partnerships, minimum wage and environmental issues. His tendency to go rogue often required special attention from Democratic leadership to keep him in the fold.

Schwartz then noted the big Democratic allied groups staying out of the SD 1 primary, but he may have missed something quite important. The primary will likely be decided by a smaller (than the general electorate) core of Democratic primary voters who are motivated to get active in local elections, party matters, community affairs, social justice movements, and more because of their values. And their final decision in this primary will likely fall on who they believe best represents and supports what they value.

How much do Democrats in SD 1 value women's rights, full equality for Nevada's LGBTQ families, properly fostering Nevada's economy & environment, and justice for the 99%? And how does John Lee fit into this equation? How Democratic voters in that district answer those questions will be crucial in determining John Lee's political fate and Pat Spearman's political future.

Of course, there will be many more factors in this race. Who has the better ground game? Who contacted more likely primary voters? And who did best with the campaign donations received? But at the end of the day, it's really about the candidates' values and what voters in the district value most.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why Obama Has Nevada G-O-TEA Running Scared

Earlier today, Ralston highlighted on Twitter a National Journal article on OFA's field operation. Basically, President Obama is relying on a strong ground game to win both Nevada and the national election.

The Obama team’s mobilization strategy could pay dividends for Democrats down the ballot. In places like Columbus, Ohio; Orlando, Fla.; and St. Louis, Democratic strongholds in states that feature Senate contests, increased turnout will only help Democratic incumbents.

“The trend lines from 1992 to today [are] clear. When Bush ran and won in 2004, we spent a lot of time on persuasion in the suburbs. Bush didn’t. Bush simply went for his base and really got the most out of it,” said Tom Lindenfeld, a turnout specialist who worked Ohio for Kerry in 2004. “That’s the model for this year for both sides. This is not an election in which Obama needs to pull voters in who weren’t for him. This is where he’s trying to drive up the already-converted [turnout].” [...]

Not surprisingly, Obama’s campaign has spent heavily on the infrastructure required to boost turnout. Republicans have noted with barely concealed glee that Obama’s team has already blown through $172 million, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, with little to show for it—at least in terms of TV advertising or a polling bump.

Much of that money, though, has gone toward hiring staff and opening offices in key states. FEC records show the campaign employs nearly 600 staffers (at a cost of nearly $1.2 million in payroll taxes alone per month). And this week, at the same time as Romney’s campaign opened its first general-election office in Pennsylvania, Obama’s camp opened its 24th in the state. Press reports indicate Obama’s campaign has at least 15 field offices in Virginia and another 19 in Ohio.

Having staffers on the ground for a long period of time is a hallmark of the Obama campaign. During his 2008 primary battle with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama’s team routinely left staffers in states he had already won, theorizing that their relationships with the communities would come in handy in a general election. Those staffers were no small part of his wins in states like Indiana and North Carolina.

Remember when OFA opened their newest field office near MacDonald Highlands (and Joe Heck's McMansion in Roma Hills) early last month? This is why they did it. OFA and Nevada Democrats know that this election will be won in the field. As long as Democrats turn out in big numbers, Obama wins. And as long as those Democrats turn out and remember to vote all the way down the ballot, then Shelley Berkley, Steven Horsford, John Oceguera, and a number of Democrats in competitive Legislature races win as well.

So if you're wondering why both Dean Heller and Joe Heck are running away from the teabaggers who once unlocked their political careers, you now know why. Because Mitt Romney's future in Nevada is looking increasingly bleak (largely thanks to "The Ron Paul Revolution" happening within the Nevada Republican Party, as well as Romney's own pandering to the "TEA" tinged radical right), they may be sensing that their only hope left is in snatching "split ticket" independent voters and hoping that not all Democrats go all the way down the ballot.

Just notice the stark contrast between the two parties in terms of organization. While Democrats are again retooling and redeploying the "well oiled machine" that turned this state Blue, Republicans have descended into a "Lord of the Flies" type world of madness. Again, this is why Republican insiders are panicking... And now setting up a "shadow state party" to bypass their own homegrown activists in running the coordinated Republican campaign.

So now do you understand what I've been saying all along? While Nevada Democrats certainly can't afford to be smug in this kind of environment, Nevada Republicans can't afford to be all that confident at all. So now, top Nevada Republican elected officials are running as far away from their own party as possible. Between Romney's disingenous "tea party" pandering and Ron Paul supporters continually taunting Romney within the party, Dean Heller, Joe Heck, and other electeds know their fate may ultimately lie in the kind of success President Obama's campaign reaps in this state.

And Now, Joe Heck's "Moderate" Baloney.

Now that Dean Heller is doing "the moderate dance", Joe Heck is joining him on that dance floor.

This week, the Club for Growth, a politically conservative outfit that advocates low spending and limited government, put out its rankings of the freshman, “Tea Party” class in the House. Heck was hovering somewhere around the bottom.

The Club gave Heck a 50 percent conservative ranking, making him the 13th-least conservative of the 87 freshmen in the House. Overall, he ranked somewhere in the middle: 196th out of 430 representatives whose votes were analyzed. (Members who only served partial terms — like Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei — didn’t get a rating.)

The numbers seem to make sense for Heck, who accepted Tea Party support as a candidate but has shied from vocally affiliating himself with the movement as a congressman. Heck’s office refused to comment for this article.

Ah, so Joe Heck now wants to believe he's "moderate" because Club for Growth didn't give him a top score. Give me a break! Here's the number that really matters.

According to a vote breakdown from the Washington Post, Heck votes with the Republican Party about 90 percent of the time.

Just yesterday, Heck voted to show a blind eye to domestic violence against minority and LGBTQ women. In February, Heck tried to justify his opposition to equal access to women's reproductive health care by saying insurance coverage of contraception "has nothing to do with women's health issues". Joe Heck has been front and center in fighting for the G-O-TEA in their War on Women.

But wait, there's more! Joe Heck just this week called marriage equality "a distraction". Oh, and Heck also belittled LGBTQ Nevadans by saying their relationships should not be respected as "traditional marriage". He cited Question 2, but that was enacted a decade ago. Nevada voters have evolved on accepting LGBTQ equality alongside Harry Reid and President Obama. Yet instead of listening to his fellow Nevadans on accepting LGBTQ families and treating us all equally, Joe Heck is joining hands with Mitt Romney and the rest of the G-O-TEA in encouraging discrimination.

And that's not the only issue where Joe Heck is joining hands with Mitt Romney. Along with Romney, Heck supports Paul Ryan's radical budget that ends Medicare as we know it. He's repeatedly stood by Ryan & Romney, and against Nevada seniors who worked hard to earn their Medicare. And in case that isn't bad enough, Heck also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, allow insurance companies to deny Americans health care for whatever reason(s) they want, force seniors to pay more for prescription drugs, and increase the federal budget deficit. How on earth is that "moderate"? And more importantly, how does that benefit his constituents?

Perhaps Joe Heck just doesn't care about his constituents. That would explain his opposition to bringing more green jobs to our state. He'll do whatever it takes to protect bailouts for fossil fuel industry billionaires, but do nothing to ensure Nevada's workers get a fair shake and stable work.

So why again are we supposed to think of Joe Heck as "moderate"? Maybe because he's just "moderately" in the pocket of powerful corporate interests? Because he's only "moderately" controlled by the likes of Bank of America and Goldman Sachs? Because he only "moderately" cares more about staying in their good graces and John Boehner's good graces than doing what's best for Nevada? What baloney.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dean Heller's "Moderate" Baloney

All of a sudden, Dean Heller wants Nevada voters to forget his real record. All of a sudden, Heller now says he's "open" to Marco Rubio's "Kill the DREAM Act" that would permanently make millions of immigrant kids second-class citizens.

Rubio’s suggestion for a DREAM Act would mean that potentially millions of kids who grew up in the United States without the right papers would be forced to be non-voting residents of their home country. Rubio may be using the rhetoric of defending Latinos against right-wing attacks, but the Republican policies don’t play out well for Latinos, specifically on the DREAM Act. The Republican presidential candidates are running on extreme immigration policies, and it would take a lot for Latinos to regain trust in the party. Offering a path to second-class citizenship is not exactly the olive branch Latinos are looking for.

And this is what Dean Heller is "open" to. Second-class citizenship? Mitt Romnney and Kris Kobach may still think it's "amnesty", but this is really nothing more than pointless pandering.

And then, there's this. All of a sudden, Heller wants us to think he opposes Paul Ryan's Medicare busting budget. So now we're supposed to forget Heller's real record? And we're supposed to forget his unbalanced nonsense plan that would destroy Medicare & Social Security if enacted?

Heller is even trying to have it both ways on marriage equality. He claims he "doesn't want to talk about it", but he still managed to (again) state his support for marriage discrimination against LGBTQ Nevadans. So he "doesn't want to talk about it", except when he wants to reassure the radical religious right that he's still "one of them". Lovely.

I can see right through Heller's BS. He's trying to make us forget his real record. He wants us to forget his history of bowing to extreme "tea party" madness. But in today's era of online vote archives & YouTube, Dean Heller will have to find out the hard way that it's not as easy to erase away his own record as he thinks.

Why Did Joe Heck Vote to Allow Violence Against Women?

So Joe Heck just voted to play games with Nevada women's lives. He's refused to allow reauthorize a true, comprehensive Violence Against Women Act (VAWA.). Oh yes, that's right. Apparently, preventing domestic violence has just become another political football for Joe Heck and his fellow teabaggers in Congress.

What's really horrifying about this "tea party" approved VAWA would notify abusers that their victims called for help. It would also allow domestic violence Against LGBTQ Americans to continue unchecked. This is really extreme ideology that has no place in public policy or law enforcement.

Even Dean Heller agreed to the more comprehensive and just Senate version of VAWA that kept the "tea party" crazy at bay. And now, one of his GOP Senate colleagues, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), is asking the House to drop the nonsense and agree to the bipartisan Senate bill. Here's a key excerpt from the letter she just signed onto.

We should not let politics pick and choose which victims of abuse to help and which to ignore. Each previous reauthorization substantially improved the way VAWA addressed the changing needs of domestic violence victims by addressing challenges facing older victims, victims with disabilities, and other underserved groups. The Senate’s bipartisan VAWA Reauthorization Act continues this tradition by placing greater emphasis on training for law enforcement and forensic response to sexual assault, and by strengthening protections for all victims regardless of where they live, or their race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

So what does Joe Heck have against Nevada's women? This is becoming more of a habit for him. Perhaps instead of voting to allow violence against minority and LGBTQ women in Nevada, Joe Heck should get a reality check on what Nevadans actually want to see happening in Congress.

The (Ron Paul G-O-TEA) Revolution May Not Be Lost, Even As It's Lost.

It's over. It's really over...

But is it? Elizabeth Crum saw this unfold at last night's Clark County GOP Central Committee meeting. Yes, this really happened.

The Clark County Republican Party (CCRP), which now consists of a majority of Ron Paul supporters, last night voted to condemn the Republican National Committee. They are also calling for Chairman Reince Preibus to resign.

The resolution says this is because the RNC is supporting Mitt Romney as the “presumptive nominee” even though other candidates are “still actively campaigning”. [...]

I guess these folks did not get the memo that Ron Paul has ceased to actively campaign.

Led by RNC committeewoman-elect Diana Orrock (reminder: both the national committeewoman and man were deposed at the state meeting in Sparks two weekends ago), CCRP also voted to condemn a United Nations initiative called Agenda 21.

I am sure the U.N. General Assembly will be very upset to learn that Clark County GOP opposes their plans for world economic development.

Yes, "The Ron Paul Revolution" continues. And that's what has longtime Nevada Republican insiders taking their money and running... To outside groups like AFP and pro-Romney Super PACs. And no, they're not apologizing for it.

“We’re a battleground state. There will still be a significant amount of money spent here,” said Robert Uithoven, a GOP consultant. “(But) the money will be spent around the state party and not through it. And that’s never a good thing.” [...]

“It has become evident after the convention that the new leadership for the party is not interested in getting Republicans elected as much as moving an ideology forward,” said Mendy Elliot, a longtime Republican and fundraiser for the Washoe County Republican Party. “The purpose of the party is to get Republicans elected and register Republicans. Until that focus is shifted back, it’s hard for mainstream Republicans to understand the purpose of the party.”

This goes back to what we discussed last Wednesday. Ron Paul's followers care deeply about their ideological priorities. And they deeply revere their dear leader (Ron Paul). However, they don't respect fellow Republicans and they don't seem to care about winning the election. And that's a problem for Nevada Republicans.

After all, remember the purpose of state and local parties. Their primary goal is supposed to be winning elections. When they stop caring about winning elections, we have to ask why they exist. So now, the Nevada Republican Party is headed right into an existential crisis as big right-wing donors and activists are switching their allegiance from the state party to pro-Mitt Romney independent expenditures and "Tea Party, Inc." groups like AFP. And yet again, Ron Paul's loyal foot soldiers prove just how influential they will be in this campaign (much to Romney's and other top Republicans' dismay).