Monday, June 18, 2012

John Lee's Out... So What's Next for Nevada Priorities?

So Pat Spearman defeated John Lee in SD 1. So what's next? There were some clues found in yesterday's Sun.

Sen. John Lee’s defeat Tuesday by Patricia Spearman in the Democratic primary marked the first time that a lawmaker was targeted and defeated from the left.

“Our goal is to re-center the party,” said Erin Neff, executive director of ProgressNow Nevada Action, one of the groups involved in the effort. “We want to pull the party back from the right wing. To do that, we have got to replace the conservative Democrats with normal Democrats, Democrats who hold our values and vote with us.”

And how exactly are they planning to re-center the party? They're looking at future primaries.

Specifically, Neff said she was watching Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, and Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, who’s running for state Senate.

“I think there’s room for them to change next session,” she said, pointing to Kirkpatrick’s involvement in the late and ultimately unsuccessful tax debate last year and Smith’s bills changing work conditions for teachers. (Smith said she was surprised to be targeted. Kirkpatrick did not return a call for comment by deadline.)

Members of the coalition said they have no intention of working from within the Democratic Party structure. Instead, they intend to flex their newfound muscle in future Democratic primaries and in Carson City in 2013.

Remember when we discussed all the pent up frustration with the status quo in Carson City? Well, the folks in the Nevada Priorities coalition have begun taking action. And it's looking like primary-ing John Lee was only Step 1.

But why? Remember when we talked about the importance of values in campaigns? It still comes down to values. And going forward, there are a number of legislators, including some Democrats, who will need to be reminded of what Nevada values.

Certainly, there's a risk in going too far. Look at how insane the Nevada Republican Party has become precisely because it's been taken over by fringe radicals more interested in ideological "purity" than winning or governing. It's just not healthy for governing to devolve into pointless ideological warfare. After all, that's what's causing so much mayhem in Congress right now.

However, it's also a problem when legislators become unresponsive to their constituents. That's a big reason why John Lee fell last week. And it looks to be why the Nevada Priorities coalition feels it's not done shaking up the system just yet.

How long have we talked about progressive tax reform? How long have we talked about fully funding public education? And how long have we talked about rebooting Nevada's economy to be more sustainable in the future? Well, that's the problem. And the solution may finally be underway.

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