Friday, June 29, 2012

Sando Sez, "No Health Care for You." (Does #NVLeg Agree?)

So ACA has (mostly) been upheld. This is the end of the health care saga. Right?

Wrong. Yesterday, Brian Sandoval threaten to withhold affordable health care from 91,000 Nevadans.

The Affordable Care Act is estimated to cost Nevada about $574 million between 2014 and 2019, most of that in additional Medicaid costs.

But if the state decides not to expand its eligibility, it's unclear how much of that money would be saved. The federal government has promised to pay almost all of the costs of those newly eligible. The additional cost to Nevada comes from those who currently qualify but, for whatever reason, don't participate in the program. The state also must bear the full price tag of administering the program.

"In my opinion, it’s a great deal for the state," [ Jon Sasser, statewide advocacy coordinator for state legal services agencies] said. "There's not any real rational reason for not doing this, other than some sort of political decision."

Sandoval isn't ready to jump at the deal, though. His administration estimated Medicaid costs will begin to swell as soon as next year. By the end of 2014, Sandoval's office estimates as many as 141,000 new people-- including 20,000 children-- will seek health coverage through the state. [...]

Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, said she has asked legislative staff to research the legal and fiscal ramification of the opinion for a presentation to an interim committee in August.

"Personally, I want to see more people with coverage, and, yes, more people need to have access to health care," she said. "But I need to know what my options are here. What are the different options within the ruling?"

Are they serious? Our elected "leaders" are really debating whether to deny health care to at least 91,000 Nevadans? What's going on here?

OK, I really know. They're all whining about "the spending, the SPENDING!!!" And apparently, they can't see the giant pot of gold right in front of them!

Republican governors will face pressure to reject the Medicaid expansion or risk being accused by conservatives of willingly embracing a big part of ‘Obamacare.’ But there’s an incentive in the other direction; namely: a huge cash gift from the federal government, which covers the full cost of the first three years of expansion.

“It’s very easy for these Republican governors, pulled by the tea party, to say, ‘Oh we’re going to pull out,’” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) told reporters Thursday after the Suprme Court decision. “When they see what it does to pull out … they’re going to lose the incentives. They’re going to lose the dollars. They’re going to lose the new people covered. And their small businesses are going to lose the subsidies. I don’t think they’re going to be so eager to do that when they actually look at the benefits to the states in the Medicaid provisions of the bill.”

“It will be interesting to see what happens in the 26 states that challenged Obamacare,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at UCLA School of Law. “Will they go through with their threats of not expanding their own Medicaid coverage? Or will the promise of federal money persuade them to expand coverage?”

The federal government actually pays for ALL the cost of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years, and has promised to subsidize 90% of the costs after that. This is not some "unfunded mandate", far from it. And in fact, Nevada will save money in expanding Medicaid because it will mean more Nevadans receiving preventive health care and fewer Nevadans being forced to use the hospital emergency room as "primary care". And yes, preventive care is much cheaper than the ER.

Hopefully, Sandoval and the Legislature won't give into temptation to be penny wise and pound foolish. We gain nothing in turning down Medicaid expansion. Rather, our people just lose needed health care.

In a press conference following the court opinion, Sen. Harry Reid warned governors against opting out of the Medicaid expansion.

"I think those governors that are now saying some things, if they continue along saying them, they will wish they hadn’t, because they will not... help their constituents like the states that have," Reid said.

They all need to listen to Harry Reid. After all, he helped create the Affordable Care Act. And he knows what Nevada will lose out on if our elected "leaders" in Carson City are too stupid to realize that.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fast & Frivolous

So apparently, today's health care ruling from the Supreme Court wasn't embarrassing enough for the G-O-TEA on Capitol Hill. They're determined to waste more of our time on ridiculous conspiracy theories. That's why a multitude of House Democrats just walked out of the Capitol.

Led by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who originally planned a walk-out yesterday, most Democrats exited the chamber instead of voting to hold the Attorney General in contempt. Both House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) called for the walkout.

Holder been the target of Republican fury over ‘Fast and Furious,’ a misguided gun tracking effort initiated by the Bush administration and continued under Pres. Barack Obama in which thousands of guns went missing.

Democrats have criticized the vote for being about politics, not action, since Republican’s focus has been on Holder, and not on the gun trading scheme. They feel that Congress should be concentrating on the economy, jobs, and seeking the truth of what happened to the missing guns and a man killed by one.

So what is this really about? Fortune Magazine, which can't really be called a "bleeding heart liberal" publication, just published an expose that revealed there's really nothing there.

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As you can see, there's really nothing there... Yet 255 House members voted for this nonsense. Joe Heck and Mark Amodei were among those 255 votes in favor of this idiocy. And yes, they really did vote for total idiocy. Even the House Republican leading the charge on "Fast & Frivolous" has admitted that there's no evidence of any White House involvement in any criminal activity.

So why are House Republicans still pursuing this idiocy? Simple. The NRA told them to do it. Yep, it's really that pathetic. Once again, Congressional Republicans (including Nevada's) are prioritizing "tea party" fantasy over actual reality.

How Today's ACA Ruling Matters Going Forward

So the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. What's next? Here's what the President said earlier this morning.

And here's what's about to happen in the real world. On one hand, there's some concern about how much regulatory authority the federal government now has. But when one really looks at the meat of the ruling, the Supreme Court essentially reaffirmed the federal government's role in taxing and regulating the marketplace. Ultimately, a majority of Supreme Court Justices rejected the "tea party" argument that expanding health care access to 33 million more Americans is somehow unconstitutional.

And then, there's the practical aspect. We have the 33 million Americans who will finally soon have health care.

The individual mandate, by bringing healthy people into the insurance market and lowering premiums, means health insurance for between 12.5 million and 24 million more Americans than if the mandate was struck down. And as Kennedy said in his dissent that the conservatives on the Court believed the entire law should have been invalidated, it means health insurance for 33 million more Americans than if Kennedy and the conservatives had their way.

Those are big numbers, But behind them are real people. People like Eric Richter.

Richter, a 39-year-old resident of Ohio, works at a stone drilling company. He and his wife made $36,000 a year. That’s too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to easily afford insurance. So Richter didn’t purchase insurance. “It’s hard to pay for the unknown, when you’re struggling to cover the known,” he told Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times. “I know it sounds irresponsible, but that’s just the way it was. It’s a game of roulette you hope you’re going to win.”

Then Richter discovered a tumor growing up his leg. He first tried home remedies, cutting out sugar and eating beets, having read somewhere that it might help. But it kept growing. His wife sewed him new pants to accommodate the “melon-sized” lump. He stood in church, because it was too painful to sit down. He was turned away from a needed scan because he lacked insurance. In April, doctors in the emergency room told Richter his tumor was malignant. His wife desperately tried to find an insurer would would cover them. No one would. The tumor was, of course, a preexisting condition. [...]

The passage of the Affordable Care Act means that, come 2014, people like the Richters get guaranteed health care coverage. If their income is less than 133 percent of the poverty line, they receive Medicaid (unless their state rejects federal Medicaid dollars for the expansion, something the Court made it easier for them to do). If their income is between 133 percent and 400 percent, they receive some level of subsidies. At $36,000, the Richters would be paying less than $200 a month, and no insurer can turn them away. If they are now below the poverty line, they get Medicaid, no questions asked.

And of course, we'll soon see change here in Nevada. As we've discussed before, the Affordable Care Act is already starting to make a real, positive impact on many Nevadans' lives.

In March, Joe Heck introduced a bill to repeal the ACA. It already looks like Dean Heller and several other Republicans are talking about repealing the ACA. Do they really want to go there?

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Certainly, health care will continue to be a major political football this year. But really, do Mitt Romney, Dean Heller, and Joe Heck really want to "re-litigate" health care reform and continue threatening to take health care away from many thousands of Nevadans?

BREAKING: Supreme Court UPHOLDS Health Care Reform

I told you so! Just moments ago, SCOTUSBlog broke the news that the US Supreme Court has mostly upheld the Affordable Care Act. Here are the two areas of the Bill that the Court is changing:

1. The Court is apparently limiting the federal government's ability to deny all Medicaid funds to states that don't want to expand Medicaid as the ACA prescribes. But other than that, the rest of the Medicaid expansion provision survives.

2. The Supremes struck down the justification of the individual mandate under "The Commerce Clause". However, the Court IS UPHOLDING the mandate as a tax. So other than "legal-ese", the mandate survives wholly intact.

There may be some challenges ahead as some states try to undermine ACA by balking on Medicaid. Here in Nevada, that doesn't seem to be at risk, as the State has moved to comply with ACA. But overall, it looks like Medicaid will survive intact and Medicaid will be expanded for most Americans.

And all in all, it looks like health care reform will live another day. I'll have more details later as we find out more.

7:45 UPDATE:

SCOTUSBlog's Tom Goldstein is explaining further on MSNBC, and this is sounding like even more good news for President Obama and health care advocates. The final ruling is 5-4 on both the mandate-turned-tax and Medicaid expansion. The Court has ruled that the federal government indeed has the authority to expand Medicaid and distribute money to the states to make it happen. It just can't specifically tell the states how to spend the additional Medicaid funds, but apparently the Obama Administration never had plans to fight any states on that.

So on second thought, this is looking even better for President Obama. It's just surprising that Chief Justice John Roberts, of all people, has stepped in to save the bulk of "ObamaCare". Score one for stare decisis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

And About That Other Case of Tax Evasion...

Perhaps there's new meaning to the term "Apple of gold stocks". Public News Service has more on what's still the biggest tax evasion scheme in Nevada's history.

Tax-research consultant David Kersten, owner of Kersten Communications, still is compiling the report but says the big picture is clear. Numerous state exemptions allow local mines to only pay taxes on about a third of the value of the precious metals they extract. Kersten says they pay a state tax of just 5 percent on that smaller value.

"So, it really works out to just $71 million on a total of $6.6 billion in the value of what they extracted."

Mining industry lobbyists say the companies also pay the modified business tax and sales tax to the general fund. But Kersten says all businesses pay that, and thinks the state is too lenient about the mining tax. He compiled the report for the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN), which will present the findings to the Mining Oversight Commision on Thursday.

Kersten, who is updating the 2009 report called "Fool's Gold," says it shows that, while Nevada ranks near the bottom in taxing mines, the industry is enjoying record profits.

"Newmont called itself the 'Apple of gold stocks.' These companies, their profits are up 20 and 30 percent, even more - and compared to a few years ago, they have huge growth in profits and production."

Of the 13 Western states where mining is active, he says Nevada is all but alone in handing out such sizable tax breaks to the industry.

"Every other state except for Alaska taxes on the gross value of gold. Nevada's unique in that it allows all of these deductions."

We've known for some time that there's a real problem with Nevada's mining tax code. This week, we're being reminded of it again. No matter how much mining industry lobbyists try to spin it, it's real and it's costing our state.

Something's got to give. That's what Nevada voters want to see. But will it finally happen?

While it's typically been incredibly difficult for any kind of mining tax reform to survive in Carson City, it may not always be this way. After all, how can the overwhelming majority of Nevadans be ignored any longer? Can we really afford to keep waking up to deja vu?

Does That Apple Still Look Rotten?

All hail Apple! The tech giant is now planning to open its iCloud data storage facility in Washoe County. And already, Governor Sandoval and a multitude of Northern Nevada politicians are hailing this as economic salvation for Reno.

Apple's comment on bringing the data center to Reno is as follows:

"We hope to build Apple's next data center in Reno to support Apple's iTunes Store, App Store and incredibly popular iCloud services. If approved, this project would expand our presence in Nevada and create hundreds of construction jobs over the next year, plus permanent jobs at the data center which will add to our existing total of nearly 400 employees in the state."

Steve Hill of from the Governor’s Office estimates the plant would bring 500 construction jobs in August. 230 direct jobs and 90 indirect jobs coming upon completion. [...]

Washoe County chairman Bob Larkin commented, saying:

"The Washoe County Board of Commissioners recognizes that, as a leader in the global economy, Apple has many choices worldwide for where they can locate and invest hundreds of millions of dollars, and the Board is extremely proud to endorse this project and be in the running to partner with them on such a prestigious economic development project. Having Apple in our community would put us on the global economic development map for other related industries.” Larkin continued, “This proposed high speed data center could bring hundreds of much needed construction jobs to our area in the coming months. In addition, Apple promises the investment of $1 billion dollars in our region over the next 10 years. The agreement to move forward with this project represents a watershed moment for our region's economic future."

Well, it's better than nothing. I just find it funny how this comes on the heels of an explosive report of Apple setting up a shell company in Reno to avoid paying California taxes. In April, there was huge outrage over Apple (mis)using us for tax evasion. But now, all of a sudden, Apple becomes this heroic figure swooping in to rescue Northern Nevada's economy? I smell something fishy here.

Indeed, the fact that it was Apple seeking the tax breaks wasn’t publicly known until 8 a.m. Tuesday, less than three hours before the Washoe County Commission unanimously signed off on a deal worth $89 million in tax abatements over 10 years.

Apple won the county commission’s endorsement in a hearing that lasted a scant 20 minutes, during which no one testified in opposition or even rose to question the tax breaks.

Instead, the developer, Apple executives and lobbyists sung the praises of the project, and commissioners almost giddily endorsed the tax incentives before posing for a photo in the commission chamber with the businessmen who brokered the deal. [...]

[Reno City Council Member Dave] Aiazzi said Apple is striking at the right time, offering a recession-stricken community the prospect of high-paying jobs.

“If everything was good and the economy was great, we may not think this is such a good deal,” Aiazzi said. “But for the people who get the jobs out there, who are saying, ‘I need the money,’ for them it’s worth it.”

Let's be real here. If this were an everyday working class Nevada person getting a sweetheart deal like this, many if these same politicians would be aghast in horror as they'd be taking their queues from teabaggers screaming, "WELFARE!!!! WELFARE!!!!!" Well, where are the teabaggers to call out the corporate welfare that the State of Nevada, Washoe County, and City of Reno are about to bestow upon Apple? So "WELFARE!!!!!" is evil if it's a working poor family trying to survive in this rough economy, but it's A-O-K for a multinational corporation like Apple? Sorry, but this is the most blatant and disgusting double standard I've ever seen!

Let's be honest here. Apple struck while the iron was hot and took advantage of Brian Sandoval's willingness to cut any kind of deal to save face and show Nevada that "he means business". Apple wins in opening a new data storage facility and paying hardly any taxes on it, while California continues to lose in not being able to collect the corporate income tax it's otherwise owed. Nevada, meanwhile, continues to be satisfied with mere economic crumbs.

Now I can't completely blame local electeds in Washoe County for taking this deal. As I said earlier, something is better than nothing. And as long as our state's "leaders" continue to pursue these "quick fix" deals instead of taking the necessary long term action to secure long-term economic health, this may actually be the best we can get for now.

But looking forward, we must demand better. Think about it. While Sandoval's office is gushing over a data storage facility, where is the real tech innovation happening? Where is the real job creation happening? Where are the exciting tech start-ups happening? Oh yeah, that's right. Maybe California isn't that much of a loser, after all? And maybe Nevada will finally consider properly investing in our future?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why "Tea Party, Inc." Fears The Education Initiative

Ah, the smell of pure desperation!

The Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs filed a lawsuit today against the “Education Initiative” (margin tax Initiative) charging that that the petition’s description of effect is deceptive and incomplete and that it violates the single-subject rule.

The complaint was filed in Carson City District Court.

“From the title on down, the initiative is deeply flawed and misleading,” said Josh Hicks, of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, the attorney for the Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs. “The initiative has nothing to do with education and includes many aspects that are not mentioned in the initiative’s description. We believe that as written, this initiative violates Nevada law.”

The "Tea Party, Inc." coalition opposing the corporate margin tax must figure they have to grasp at straws to stop this. After all, they know the rules on initiatives. They know AFL-CIO & NSEA couldn't insert a funding mandate, as that would violate the single subject rule. Come on, these are the very same folks who used the single subject rule to kill Kermitt Waters' budget initiative!

So now, they're arguing the AFL-CIO/NSEA tax initiative is illegal because it abides by the single subject rule? What a joke.

And by the way, if this "Committee to Protect Nevada Jobs" cared so much about false advertising, why don't they drop their name? After all, their reign in Carson City has done nothing to bring new and better jobs to our state.

We all know why "Tea Party, Inc." power players are really filing this law suit. They know Nevadans are sick and tired of the status quo, so this is their last ditch effort to prevent the initiative from collecting signatures and going to the voters in 2014 (or if Democrats somehow win 2/3 in both houses of the Legislature and all other stars align for progressives, it's passed by the Legislature next year). After having such an iron grip over state government for so long, they're finally at risk of losing it. This may be one small initiative for one small corporate tax, but it will have big repercussions if it succeeds.

Why Is Nevada G-O-TEA Doubling Down on Anti-Immigrant Hysteria?

On the heels of yesterday's US Supreme Court ruling striking down most of Arizona's SB 1070, there's been plenty of speculation on what it means for us here in Nevada.

First off, can it come here? A Northern Nevada Assembly Republican is trying.

In response to the opinion handed down by the court, Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, asked legislative bill drafters Monday to rewrite his measure that failed last session.

Hansen said this time, the proposed law will have the advantage of having the constitutional boundaries established by the Supreme Court. But Hansen is under no illusions he’ll be more successful. [...]

Hansen’s bill isn’t the only time Nevada’s powerful industries opposed an effort to institute an Arizona-type immigration law here.

During the heat of the 2010 U.S. Senate Republican primary, former Assemblyman Chad Christensen, R-Las Vegas, filed an initiative petition to put an Arizona law in front of Nevada voters. The state’s gaming lobby quickly stepped up to oppose the effort, including the Nevada Resort Association and Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

The industry argued such a law could lead to a tourism boycott of Nevada.

But the industry’s workforce is also heavily Hispanic, individuals who could be subjected to the racial profiling that opponents of Arizona’s law say it engenders.

And that's likely why an Arizona style "Papers Please" law won't be coming here any time soon. Remember when Chad Christensen tried desperately to save his political career? It looks like Ira Hansen now wants to bring Chad Christensen's legacy back from the political dead and threaten to wipe out our economy.

Wait, why did I just say that last part? Let me explain.

Nevada's economy is still largely dependent on tourism and the free movement of people. And even if/when we ever decide to diversify our economy, we still need a free movement of people to make that possible. If Nevada were to pass an Arizona SB 1070 clone, we'd be draining the life blood out of our own economy.

Don't believe me? Look at what's happened to all the states that have so far adopted Arizona like statutes. The numbers don't lie, and those numbers aren't painting a pretty picture.

Yet despite the growing evidence proving that anti-immigrant SB 1070 style bills hurt the economy, why is Ira Hansen still pursuing one for Nevada? Oh, it's just the same reason why Mitt Romney still supports SB 1070. It's the same reason why retiring Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) is suggesting impeaching President Obama. And it's the same reason why Dean Heller and Joe Heck are still sticking up for Joe Arpaio and Jan Brewer.

Simply put, hysterical xenophobia turns on the G-O-TEA base. And because their "minority outreach" just isn't working, they may have no choice left but to double down on the crazy and hope a repackaging of their xenophobia can somehow appeal to older white voters with economic anxiety. That's really all they have left.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Joe Heck Needs a Reality Check... On His Dirty "Check-gate" Secret

Ah, how convenient! All of a sudden, House G-O-TEA leadership decides to highlight Joe Heck's newest bill. If you're wondering why, I explained back in April.

However, Desert Beacon unearthed even more "inconvenient truth" that Joe Heck is trying to bury with this latest desperate publicity stunt piece of legislation.

Congressman Joe Heck may have introduced legislation on this subject, but it’s not like he’s the first one with the idea. A very similar bill, H. 981, was introduced by Representative Richard Nugent (R-FL5) on March 9, 2011. Congressman Nugent’s bill garnered three co-sponsors and still sits in the House Administration Committee. The House Administration Committee has not yet scheduled a hearing, much less a mark up session, on H.R. 981, which tends to imply that H.R. 5951 will meet a similar fate. There is no Congressional Budget Office scoring of H.R. 981, so those “savings” remain securely in the “potential” category.

If Representative Heck wanted to score points bashing public employee retirement programs — such as the one from which his Democratic opponent draws his pension after 20 years of service as a firefighter —then some symbolic bill like H.R. 981/H.R. 5951 might be appropriate. As serious legislation, the idea hasn’t even secured enough support to make it to a committee hearing in the 112th Congress since March, 2011.

Congressman Heck may also want to dim the spotlight on public employee benefits since his own record has a bit of a blip. His Democratic opponent, John Oceguera, points out that when Heck went to Congress he dissolved his company, putting his wife out of work — the Heck’s then reported unemployment benefits for his wife, thus supplementing the family income.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. As always, Desert Beacon unearthed the real reason why Joe Heck is touting this new bill.

As we discussed over the weekend, Joe Heck has a really ugly scandal in his hands now. Somehow, he has to find a way to make "Check-gate" go away to keep alive his political career. After all, Heck thought he had a ready-made issue to use against John Oceguera. But instead, Heck looks like a hypocrite in berating "big government welfare" while Heck himself benefits from all sorts of "big government welfare".

I wonder what Heck will try next.

Adios, "Papers Please"?

While it won't entirely be going away, Arizona's SB 1070 definitely won't be the same after today.

In a 5-3 ruling handed down by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the high court held that most of the provisions being challenged encroached on turf that is constitutionally reserved for the federal government. The court overturned parts of the law that criminalize one’s presence in Arizona without documentation, criminalize working or looking for work without legal status, and permit police to arrest people without a warrant if there’s suspicion that they’ve committed a deportable crime.

But the provision of the law permitting police to check a person’s immigration papers during lawful encounters was deemed valid and not a preemption of federal law.

Joining Justice Kennedy in the majority were John Roberts, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor. Justice Elena Kagan, who worked on the issue as Obama’s solicitor general, did not participate in the case.

Arizona argued that the law cooperatively assists the U.S. with immigration enforcement, but the court mostly agreed with the Obama administration that key parts of the law encroach on the federal government’s exclusive right to make policy on the matter.

So apparently, Mitt Romney's immigration guru, Kris Kobach, isn't as good on abiding by the US Constitution as he is in using xenophobia to further his political career. I wonder what Mittens thinks about this.

And I wonder what Dean Heller thinks about this. After all, he was also on that Kris Kobach/Joe Arpaio anti-immigrant crazy train... Until it was no longer politically convenient for him.

And now, we're finding out that crazy train is unconstitutional. And we're supposed to be surprised? The State of Arizona clearly encroached upon federal jurisdiction, and it clearly violated many Americans' civil rights. We'll just have to wait and see if this is a wake-up call for Republicans. Will they ever see that their zeal for harrassing people that don't look like them is really alienating all the rest of us? Or is that just too much of a "clown question"?

So This Is Why Pat Hickey Flip-flopped on Campaign Finance Reform!

Remember the hullabaloo Pat Hickey tried to create around the campaign finance reform package he proposed (yet opposed last year)? Now, we're getting a better sense of why he's done such a 180 on this.

If you’re going to paint yourself as the white knight of transparency, you better make sure to clean up after your horse.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, listed $13,594 in unitemized credit card payments in this year’s campaign contribution and expense reports, nearly 30 percent of all his expenditures.

Lumping expenses onto credit cards does not violate campaign finance laws, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. But the occasional practice by candidates has been marked as a shortcoming of state law — a way for candidates to potentially obscure how they’re spending the money.

Ah, so now we see! It's just so convenient for Pat Hickey to declare himself "The White Knight of Good Government". It's just so convenient for him to take up this cause and misuse it to smear his political opponents. And niece we finally see why Hickey is doing this. Pat Hickey doesn't want us to see his own ethical shortcomings.

[Hickey] called on the lawmakers to “hold itself to higher standards in Nevada.”

“I am asking members of both parties to lead the way in establishing higher standards of public transparency and accountability,” he said.

Hickey’s reforms, which he urged lawmakers to make the first order of business when the Legislature meets in 2013, included 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.

[Secretary of State Ross] Miller has attempted to pass many of those same reforms since 2007.

So why didn't Hickey lift a finger to help Ross Miller and Sheila Leslie enact any campaign fiance reform last year, when something actually could have been done? Why is Hickey only talking about it now, when the Legislature is not in session?

Well, this is an election year. This is indeed an election year. And in an election year, crafty politicians devise all sorts of initiatives to garner support.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Joe Heck's "Check-gate" Scandal Explained

Since news broke of Joe Heck's wife collecting unemployment benefits, Heck's "TEA" infused professional apologists have been trying hard to spin away this inconvenient truth. So I figured now's a good time to explain point by point why so many Nevadans are disturbed by Joe Heck's hypocrisy on collecting government checks.

- First off, Joe Heck introduced a bill to slash unemployment benefits, along with many other federal programs, to 2006 levels. Basically, he wants to bring European style job killing austerity to America! Here's what I found back in November.

Heck wants to slash federal investment in our people to 2006 levels and fire more public sector workers! Even though we have more miltary veterans in need of VA care, college students in need of Pell Grants, working poor families in need of Medicaid and food stamps, retirees in need of Medicare and Social Security, and unemployed workers in need of unemployment insurance, Heck refuses to acqknowledge this reality and instead has introduced this bill that would plunge our economy into double-dip recession if enacted!

If we were to slash all these programs and more, we would all pay the price of further suffering. Without unemployment insurance, those without work can't survive. Same goes for seniors on Medicare, working poor families on food stamps and Medicaid, students with Pell Grants, and veterans using VA assistance. If they can't even buy food and basic supplies, let alone purchase anything else, our economy would take a massive hit. Oh, and in the longer term the budget deficit would only worsen as tax revenue plunges because of even more people losing their jobs.

While Heck has occasionally voted for unemployment benefits, in the end he's always stood by his G-O-TEA colleagues whenever they wanted his support. And he supported them in a big way by pushing this bill to cut unemployment aid drastically and impose a radical austerity regime upon America that only Paul Ryan and Angela Merkel could love. If enacted, Heck's bill would have plunged us into the kind of recession that's now plaguing most of Europe.

- And in case that wasn't enough, Joe Heck has also religiously backed Paul Ryan's plan to impose economy busting austerity on our country. And if you're still wondering why Joe Heck does Nevada no favors in backing The Ryan Plan, then you need to read Desert Beacon more often.

- Yet even as Joe Heck preaches "AUSTERITY!!!" to us, he practices something completely different. While he champions public sector layoffs and slashing government investment, Joe Heck has specialized in collecting all sorts of government funded paychecks. He's offered "consulting services" to local agencies, and he made a cool $1,000,000 off all those government contracts.

- Shortly after Joe Heck was elected to Congress, he decided that it was too risky to keep his company going, as all his government contracts posed a conflict of interest. So Joe Heck dissolved his company. And his wife, Lisa, who was also on the company's payroll, decided to collect unemployment benefits. Oh, and she did so just as her husband was beginning to collect a $174,000 per year taxpayer funded salary in Congress!

And this is why Joe Heck is now in big trouble. Simply put, he has a hypocrisy problem. As I said yesterday, Heck has a habit of collecting all these government funded checks. Yet while he's collected all these government funded checks, he votes to cut government programs that can help keep many Nevada families out of poverty. And while Heck collected all these government backed checks, he and his campaign attacked the likes of Dina Titus (a UNLV professor) and John Oceguera (formerly a firefighter) for their public service. Sorry, but what Joe Heck has been doing is the very definition of hypocrisy!

No matter how much Heck's apologists try to spin this, "Check-gate" reveals a serious problem Joe Heck has. If he can't even practice what he preaches, why does he keep preaching it to us?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Joe Heck: Government Checks for Me, But Not for Thee?

As we've discussed before, Joe Heck often dips into "BIG GUV'MINT HANDOUTZZZ!!!", even as he simultaneously decries them. We're seeing this materialize yet again.

Heck['s wife, Lisa,] worked for Specialized Medical Operations, where Joe Heck was president, according to financial disclosure forms filed with the House. The company, according to the congressman’s biography, was “dedicated to providing quality medical training, consulting and operational support to law enforcement, [emergency medical services] and military special operations.”

On Dec. 22, 2010, shortly before Heck was sworn into the House, the corporation was dissolved, according to records filed with the Nevada secretary of state’s office.

And in 2011, Heck’s company closed. He began earning $174,000 as a member of Congress. Lisa Heck was out of a job and started receiving unemployment benefits.

Normally, I don't wade into personal issues. However, this has gone beyond a personal issue.

Rather, Joe Heck has repeatedly supported the Paul Ryan plan to destroy the middle class by slashing to death Medicare, Medicaid, Pell Grants, and more. And Joe Heck has proposed his own bill to slash all these programs along with cutting unemployment assistance. And now, all of a sudden, we find out his household has recently benefited from unemployment assistance? So why is he benefiting from something that he wants to take away from his own constituents?

That's what irks me. We've all run into rough times in this economy. I understand that. However, Joe Heck has this habit of collecting government paychecks while demanding austerity for the rest of us. What's with the hypocrisy?

Sorry, but I can't think of a better word to describe it.

Anatomy of Apathy

This week, we discussed Joe Heck's social media town hall and what was revealed about Heck's priorities and Congress' agenda. It was really insightful in highlighting what's really at stake in this election.

Yet sadly, some Nevadans don't want to see anything of value in participating in this election. Last night, someone forwarded me Jane Ann Morrison's column in yesterday's R-J. It's simultaneously saddening and infuriating... But not because of Morrison. Rather, she was trying to debunk claims made by someone writing her to justify his rejection of voting.

Basically, this guy is unemployed and underwater on his home, and he wants to blame "all politicians" for it. And because Congress can't do anything, that means it's pointless to vote for anyone.

This guy can't be any further from the truth... But he certainly does look to be running into the scenario Salon's Steve Kornacki described.

The Romney campaign, as I've been writing, is banking on the tendency of economically anxious swing voters to turn on the guy in charge and latch on to the opposition candidate as a vehicle for their frustrations. This is why Romney is not exactly straining himself to spell out detailed policy positions and proposals. The idea is to avoid being identified with controversial and potentially divisive views and to focus on stoking the outrage of swing voters over how rotten Obama's economy is. If they want to blame Obama, the thinking goes, these voters will find a way to rationalize it and support Romney; no coherent policy blueprint needed.

Except there's a twist, one that Kornacki seems to have missed. Americans are becoming increasingly frustrated with the failure of Congress to agree to anything to help boost the economy. And as Mitt Romney's record at Bain Capital comes into clearer view, he's not being viewed as the "economic messiah" many pundits assumed he would. However, some voters are responding to this with "angry apathy" as they wonder how anything can ever be done.

Certainly, we've seen plenty to the contrary as Nevada Democrats are getting excited about reelecting Obama and Republicans are getting excited about... Umm, Ron Paul. However, stuck in the middle are some voters that aren't paying too much attention to what's happening, except they figure they don't like it and there's no point in participating.

Long story short: They're angry. They're scared. They're in distress. And now, they're set to give up as they don't see a way out of "The Great Recession".

Of course, what they're failing to see is that the only way to change course is by voting for the change one seeks. Otherwise, nothing happens. What they're missing is that a certain G-O-TEA faction in Congress is blocking economic progress and playing political games with their lives. And by responding with apathy, these non-voters are doing nothing to end that.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Still Wondering Why Brian Sandoval Did Not Make Mitt Romney's VP Short List?

Back in March, I told you that Mitt Romney would never be allowed to choose Brian Sandoval as his running mate. That very same day, Sandoval himself acknowledged that reality by indefinitely embracing the very 2009/2011 "sunset tax" deal that so angered Grover Norquist.

Now, we're seeing further confirmation that Sandoval won't land anywhere on Mitt Romney's VP Short List. And again, I told you why all the way back in March.

Funny enough, Governor Brian Sandoval (R) may have President Barack Obama (D) to thank the most for the turnaround in Nevada's gaming and tourism numbers. Thanks to the Recovery Act, the payroll tax cut, the Affordable Care Act, and the expansion of student financial aid, which were all policies President Obama championed and the bulk of G-O-TEA Congresscritters crapped upon, the national economy is improving. And as the national economy continues to improve, more Americans in other parts of the country will have more disposable income available to spend on a Las Vegas vacation.

So strangely enough, Brian Sandoval's good fortune is turning out to be Mitt Romney's bad luck. And both Mittens' campaign and the RNC are still trying to find a way to stop us from noticing the improving economy. [...]

So perhaps Brian Sandoval will ultimately be let off the hook somewhat as The Las Vegas Strip roars back to life... But he can't escape the fact that he at least owes some credit to President Obama and his policies that aided the national economic recovery. So Nevada Republicans shouldn't get too giddy just yet (even as Nevada Democrats try to figure out just how feasible running against Sandoval will be in the next two years).

And surely enough, Mitt Romney's campaign is now chiding swing state GOP Governors for touting economic progress in their states. Oh yes, he went there. Because of course, Romney knows his only chance of winning lies in blaming a bad economy on President Obama. And certainly, the G-O-TEA bloc in Congress is trying its hardest to sabotage the economy to benefit Romney.

However, Brian Sandoval is depending on an improving economy to bolster his argument that "no new taxes are necessary" to balance the budget. Actually, it may still not be enough to stop the AFL-CIO/NSEA corporate margin tax initiative. But then again, that's only the start of further progressive tax reform that progressives want to work on. And ironically enough, Brian Sandoval now has to hope that the economy bounces back and does so strongly enough to quiet the demand for major tax reform here in Nevada.

And funny enough, that's (another reason) why Mitt Romney can't afford to add Brian Sandoval to his G-O-TEA ticket.

"The Ron Paul Revolution" That Won't Go Away

Remember when Ron Paul followers finally succeeded in conquering the Nevada Republican Party? Not much longer after that, Ron Paul had to suspend his campaign... But Ron Paul's incredibly loyal Nevada followers wouldn't. Now, we're starting to really see why they've refused to give up.

Bottom line: They seek respect for their leader.

The Texas Republican and former presidential hopeful said that he had not asked convention organizers or Mitt Romney for a speaking slot, even as it was clear during the interview that he would like one.

“I have not asked specifically, and he hasn’t invited me to,” said Paul.

The libertarian crusader said his goal is to prove that there are advantages to including his supporters and viewpoints in the Republican Party.

“If I’m not going to the be the nominee, the goal is to show that there’s a political benefit toward accepting some of the views that we have,” he said. “All I want to do, if I don’t get a speech on the floor in the convention, all I want to do is have a meeting and say, ‘Look, we have numbers, we have people, we have enthusiasm, we believe in something. Why don’t you pay a little attention?’ And actually I think they are. They don’t know quite how to handle it.”

Yet even as the RNC has snubbed "Ron Paul's Revolution", it can't afford to ignore this revolution at its doorstep. Why? Well, do you really need me to explain again? This time, I'll let Rachel Maddow explain.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

This is the problem now facing Nevada Republicans. Most in their grassroots still want to stand with their dear leader, but the establishment is furiously trying to thwart them in every possible way. That's why they've erected a "shadow party" to circumvent them. But as long as they're still around and threaten chaos at the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August, they will still be relevant... Much to Mitt Romney's detriment.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Joe Heck's Social Media Town Hall Really Was Insightful... But Not As He Wanted.

As you can see, I participated in Congressman Joe Heck's social media town hall last night. I asked him about renewable energy investment, as well as about college affordability. And to his credit, Heck did respond to me last night... Though he wasn't the only one responding.

So at least he's interacting with constituents this time... But is he being fully honest? Let's look at some important issues discussed last night to find out. Oh, and if you'd like to keep score yourself, keep this voting record handy.

On clean energy, Joe Heck talked about a handful of bills he added his name to, but neglected to mention his going along with the G-O-TEA agenda to enrich the fossil fuel industry at our expense. Instead of taking action to bring more clean, green jobs to Nevada, he's instead pledged to protect big oil companies' profits.

Now regarding holding back the doubling of the interest rate on student loans, Joe Heck did vote for a bill to do that. However, he neglected to mention that the bill he voted for would have paid for that by ending a critical Affordable Care Act provision that invests in preventive health care. In essence, it was the classic "Rob Peter to Pay Paul" scheme as House Republicans wanted to look like they were doing something about student loan interest rates. But really, their plan would have done something at the cost of killing efforts to save money in fighting diseases by preventing Americans from contracting them.

And speaking of college students, it was interesting how Heck declined to say anything about President Obama's new immigration directive and/or the DREAM Act. I guess he's just following G-O-TEA standard operating procedure there.

I guess we can also say that about Heck's continued bungling of all things Medicare & Social Security. He talked about "preserving programs for future generations", but neglected to mention his everlasting support for Paul Ryan's "tea party" wet dream of a Medicare busting budget. And in case that alone wasn't bad enough, the Joe Heck approved Ryan Budget also slashes Medicaid to death, along with police funding, food safety protections, and food stamp assistance for working families in need, all so the G-O-TEA can keep safe those "billionaire bailouts" in the federal tax code that really do nothing to create jobs.

And funny enough, a few Nevada GOP operatives jumped into the townhall to toss in some fluff questions on job creation. So of course, they didn't mention the G-O-TEA's continued obstruction of the BIPARTISAN transportation infrastructure bill that would create 1.9 MILLION jobs if enacted. But wait, Heck actually did bring this up indirectly... By touting the calamitous Keystone XL pipeline that would do nothing to create jobs here in Nevada, even as it enriches a Canadian oil company while destroying fragile ecosystems both in Canada and in the US. Long story short, Heck is joining his G-O-TEA colleagues in blocking the transportation bill that really can create jobs because it doesn't include approval of the Keystone pipeline that does next to nothing to create jobs. Wow, talk about priorities (that are clearly out of whack)!

All in all, it seemed like Joe Heck was trying to "soften" his image in last night's Twitter and Facebook town hall. But in the end, he really couldn't hide his real "tea party" approved record. Seriously, if Joe Heck's biggest accomplishments are denying health care to Nevada's working families and protecting Wall Street fat cats instead of middle class investors, then his priorities really are out of whack.

Hey, perhaps that's the best part of last night's town hall. We caught a rare glimpse of Joe Heck's true priorities.

Notes from Michelle Obama's Visit

In case you thought I was exaggerating yesterday, I have video evidence for you. Pay attention to the crowd when OFA Nevada "super volunteer" Teresa is speaking. She's also a registered nurse, so she was explaining why "Obamacare" works. That got plenty of applause.

She then introduced First Lady Michelle Obama, and the crowd really went wild!

Michelle Obama then tied together all the President's achievements and worked them into a clear message of economic justice and standing up for Nevada's 99%. It really resonated with the crowd.

As I was saying yesterday, it's hard to look at this and conclude that "Democrats have an enthusiasm gap". No really, it's not 2010 any more. It's 2012, and Nevada Democrats are increasingly looking fired up and ready to go. All you have to do is see the cheering crowds for yourself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Michelle Obama Liveblog #1: Anatomy of Enthusiasm

This is how it looks inside.

This is how it looked outside.

Oh, yes. It's madness over here at the Henderson Convention Center. Michelle Obama will soon be here. And the crowd is already starting to go wild as the "pre-rally pomp and circumstance" begins.

There's already plenty of shouting and cheering happening. Again, it's clearly looking like Nevada Democrats are fired up and ready to go.

So I just wonder how the media will spin "the enthusiasm gap" this time. After all, Democrats are mostly getting excited about reelecting Obama. Republicans, on the other hand (and especially Nevada's G-O-TEA), aren't all that happy. Hmmm... I wonder why?

The event is now beginning, so I'll go back to Twitter @atdleft to update you on what's happening. So far, it looks like there will be plenty of cheering and shouting here in the mosh pit.

"That's a Clown Question, Bro."

For some reason, the Beltway pundit crowd always gets puzzled whenever Harry Reid gets badass on them.

It’s no secret that Sen. Harry Reid is a fan of Bryce Harper, the 19-year-old slugger from Las Vegas who’s led the Washington Nationals from the butt of capital-city jokes to first place in the National League’s Eastern Division.

But few ever expected the septuagenarian senator would start emulating the phenom teen’s now-infamous quips.

When confronted with a question Reid didn’t feel like answering at his weekly press availability, Reid turned and told a reporter: “That’s a clown question, bro.”

Harper said the same thing to a Canadian reporter last week who asked him if he would celebrate hitting a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays with a beer. Harper is above the legal drinking age in Canada.

Reid invoked Harper’s line when a reporter asked him what he thought of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, saying the Republicans were going to wait to fully respond to President Barack Obama’s announcement last Friday that DREAM-Act eligible youth could start applying for work visas until Mitt Romney presented his response.

And apparently, they're further confounded by "Abuelito" Reid's ability to shame the G-O-TEA by simply unmasking their crazed extremism. They just didn't know how to handle President Obama's recent announcement on immigration policy, so they clumsily tried to spin away their filibusters against the DREAM Act. I guess they figured that was their least bad option, since they're winning over no new supporters with their xenophobia.

Someone must have told them to wake up and smell the polling.

The latest poll from Bloomberg was conducted after the president’s June 15 directive, which applies to undocumented immigrants under 30 years old who were brought to the United States before the age of 16, have been in the country for at least five years and graduated from high school, earned a GED or served in the military. In the nationwide survey, 64 percent of likely voters agree with the president’s decision, while 30 percent disagree. Sixty-six percent of independents — a crucial portion of the electorate that will likely decide the presidential race — support the policy.

Although Obama insisted that he bypassed Congress to advance the policy because it was “the right thing to do,” it is hard to ignore the political shrewdness of the move. The policy could prove to be a galvanizing force among the nation’s largest ethnic minority group. A poll on Monday showed Latino voters in five swing states are much more enthusiastic about Obama in the wake of the move.

Obama has also placed his general election opponent in a political quandary. Mitt Romney, who took a hardline position on immigration during the Republican nomination contest, has actively avoided the issue since the president’s Friday announcement. The presumptive Republican nominee may now be handcuffed, stuck between potentially alienating his party’s base — the Bloomberg poll shows 56 percent of Republicans oppose the president’s policy — and disenchanting a voting bloc whose influence on American elections will only grow. Obama’s move will affect upwards of 800,000 undocumented immigrants.

This just further complicates Republicans' dilemma. After all, "TEA" fueled radical righties like Romney have been the ones using racism immigration to whip the "tea party" into a frenzy. No matter how hard they try to spin it, that's the reality behind the spin.

And now, they're angry that their anti-immigrant strategy is blowing up in their faces. So what does the G-O-TEA do? Simple, just try to blame someone else and distract with something else...

That is, if Republicans can finally agree on a response. I wonder if Dean Heller will say anything soon. Ah, why even bother? That's such a clown question, bro.

Yes, I'll Finally See Michelle Obama Today.

That was the scene yesterday @OFA_NV's Henderson office. As you can see, there was plenty of excitement ahead of today's visit by a certain special someone.

And she couldn't have picked a better time to come here. Folks are still processing the President's new immigration order. Local governments are dashing to plug into renewable energy. Oh, and the housing market finally seems to be looking up. Yep, it's good timing that FLOTUS is coming here today.

Oh yes, and then there's the fact that she's here just three weeks after this guy came back to town. Ha, perfect timing.

So anyways, I'll finally have a chance to go today. Check @atdleft on Twitter starting around 1:00 PM today for updates on what's happening at the Henderson Convention Center. And as soon as I can do it, I'll provide fuller updates here on the blog.

Hey, I can't leave you out of what should be the "funnest" Tuesday I've experienced in some time.

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Wonder Why "Tea Party, Inc." Is So Scared.

NSEA recently paid for a poll testing the corporate margin tax it's backing alongside Nevada AFL-CIO. They must have been smiling after seeing this. So far, respondents are answering favorably. In fact, the initiative is leading 59-32 among voters!

And funny enough, the only two demographic groups it's losing are Republicans and conservatives. Among everyone else, it's leading solidly. It's leading 59-30 in the Vegas media market, and it's even leading 59-36 in the Reno media market!

However you want to look at it, it's a blowout in the making. And it explains why Brian Sandoval has been so afraid of our state having an honest conversation on "The T Word".

It looks like most Nevadans are finally reaching their breaking point. They're getting sick and tired of seeing our kids suffer under third world conditions at our public schools while out of state multinational corporations enjoy first class tax evasion. Something's got to give.

And perhaps, it finally will. After all, can our state afford to take more of the same?

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.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New #NVLeg Assembly Race Ratings

Now that we talked about the Senate, it's time to check on the Assembly. Oh yes, that's right. We also have new #NVLeg race ratings there as well. And now that the primary is over, we have a better sense of what to expect this fall.

When we last checked on the Assembly in March, it looked like plenty of change was in store, even as the partisan numbers weren't. So has that changed since then? We'll find out below.

Clark County

AD 4
Las Vegas- Northwest
Nested into SD 18

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 50%
McCain (R) 48%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Angle (R) 48%
H Reid (D) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 58%
R Reid (D) 39%

Race Rating: Leans Republican

There was never any suspense about the primary... And I'm starting to wonder how much we'll see in the general. "Tea Party" Republican Michelle Fiore started her fundraising well, and it's starting to look like Democrat Ken Evans isn't keeping up. He will need plenty of resources to flip this seat, even if Fiore is... Well, crazy.

AD 5
Spring Valley/Las Vegas- Peccole Ranch
Nested into SD 8

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 55%
McCain (R) 43%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 52%
Angle (R) 43%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 52%
R Reid (D) 44%

Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Since our last report, it looks like Democratic incumbent Marilyn Dondero Loop has doubled down... And brought in some friends to go all in for her. While Republican challenger Bill Harrington did coast past his primary, he hasn't raised much $. And with the exception of "Tea Party, Inc." power player Monte Miller coming in to help him, it's looking like the rest of Nevada's key "business establishment" power players are betting on Dondero Loop.

AD 9
Summerlin South/Enterprise- Summerlin, Rhodes Ranch
Nested into SD 9

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 59%
McCain (R) 39%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 55%
Angle (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 49%
R Reid (D) 47%

Race Rating: Likely Democratic

As expected, Democrat Andrew Martin easily sailed through his primary. However, Republicans are a little embarrassed over their star recruit, Victoria DeLaGuerra-Seaman, narrowly losing the GOP primary to "some dude" Clay Hurst. And not only is Hurst "some dude", but he's "some dude" who hasn't even filed a C&E (contribution and expense) report! Now, Martin just needs good Democratic turnout this fall to seal the deal. And considering all the field work that will be done for John Oceguera and Justin Jones (AD 9 also overlaps NV-03), that shouldn't be too much of a problem.

AD 12
Sunrise Manor/East Las Vegas/Henderson- Lake Las Vegas
Nested into SD 21

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 58%
McCain (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 54%
Angle (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 49%
R Reid (D) 47%

Race Rating: Safe Democratic

This is probably the last time you see AD 12 on the scoreboard. Though James Ohrenschall initially ran into trouble when his district shed some of heavily Democratic (and Latino) East Las Vegas to pick up heavily Republican (and wealthy and white) Lake Las Vegas, it now looks like he will live on for another term. His Republican opponent, Bridgette Bryant, has so far raised $1,350 total! Once again, Nevada Republican ineptitude looks to be saving another Nevada Democrat.

AD 13
Las Vegas- Northwest, Centennial Hills
Nested into SD 18

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 50%
McCain (R) 48%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Angle (R) 48%
H Reid (D) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 57%
R Reid (D) 39%

Race Rating: Tossup

While the Assembly GOP Caucus must be relieved that Paul Anderson survived a "TEA" fueled primary challenge from Leonard Foster, they still can't rest easy here. Lou DeSalvio won the Democratic Primary, and he's been "packing heat" in his fundraising. And since both he and Kelli Ross (who's running for Senate here) are moderates with the strong potential for crossover appeal, Anderson and his Republican Establishment backers will have to work to lock down this seat.

AD 19
Mesquite/Sunrise Manor/Henderson- Old Henderson
Nested into SD 12

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 54%
McCain (R) 44%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 50%
Angle (R) 45%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 52%
R Reid (D) 43%

Race Rating: Leans Republican

On paper, this should be a very competitive district. And while I still suspect Crescent Hardy is just too conservative for this district, he may just be able to slip through the cracks due to a lack of due diligence on the part of the Assembly Democratic Caucus. Felipe Rodriguez has hardly raised any money, and it's unclear as to what kind of field he's doing. And while there are many Democratic strongholds in the new AD 19, they have to be worked hard to get the kind of turnout that one regularly sees in the rock solid Republican parts of the district that Crescent Hardy is counting on to win another term.

AD 21
Paradise/Henderson- Silverado Ranch, Green Valley
Nested into SD 5

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 57%
McCain (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 55%
Angle (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 50%
R Reid (D) 46%

Race Rating: Leans Democratic

For now, both party establishments are happy. Assembly Democratic Caucus endorsed Andy Eisen and Assembly Republican Caucus endorsed Becky Harris won their respective primaries, so it's now game on for those two in the general. Both live in Silverado Ranch, both are prodigious fundraisers, and both have great looking resumes. While Harris probably won't make this an easy pickup for Democrats, I still sense the partisan leanings of the new AD 21 give Eisen at least a bit of an edge.

AD 22
Henderson- Green Valley Ranch, MacDonald Ranch
Nested into SD 20

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 50%
McCain (R) 48%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
Angle (R) 48%
H Reid (D) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 57%
R Reid (D) 39%

Race Rating: Likely Republican

Current Assembly Member Lynn Stewart (R-Henderson) got a radically downsized district in redistricting, but that so far doesn't seem to hurt his reelection prospects. Stewart now has a Democratic opponent in local entrepreneur Randy Spoor, but we'll have to see if the Nevada Democratic Party ever gets serious about playing in this Henderson district before upgrading this race any time soon.

AD 29
Henderson- Green Valley, Old Henderson
Nested into SD 5

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 54%
McCain (R) 44%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 52%
Angle (R) 43%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 52%
R Reid (D) 43%

Race Rating: Leans Democratic

At first, incumbent Assembly Member April Mastroluca (D-Henderson) seemed destined to reach the top of "The Endangered Legislators List", as her district was shifted to the right in redistricting. And when famous "The Gun Store" owner Bob Irwin decided to jump in and challenge Mastroluca, I honestly didn't know what to expect next.

Yet while GOP money men Sheldon Adelson and Monte Miller have cut checks for Irwin, his fundraising is falling seriously behind Mastroluca's (who's already raised over $85,000 so far and has her own power players backing her up). And other than his hideous looking roadside signs, I haven't seen any field work on his behalf. Mastroluca, on the other hand, has become an expert in maximizing her ground game to win close elections.

While she's far from out of the woods, April Mastroluca may soon find a path back to the promised land (of another term in Carson City).

AD 35
Enterprise- Mountain's Edge, Southern Highlands
Nested into SD 9

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 58%
McCain (R) 40%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 54%
Angle (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 50%
R Reid (D) 46%

Race Rating: Leans Democratic

On the Democratic side, there was little drama as Assembly Caucus endorsed James Healey won the primary. However on the Republican side, "tea party" backed "some dude" Tom Blanchard scored a surprising upset victory over Establishment backed (and son of recently failed NV-04 candidate Barbara Cegavske) Adam Cegavske. Consider this another G-O-TEA Primary FAIL that may very well come back to bite Nevada Republicans.

AD 37
Las Vegas- Summerlin, Northwest
Nested into SD 6

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 51%
McCain (R) 47%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 48%
Angle (R) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 55%
R Reid (D) 41%

Race Rating: Tossup

This may yet prove to be the most painful Legislature race for Nevada Democrats. Marcus Conklin (D-Las Vegas) had expected to become the next Nevada Assembly Speaker. Now, he'll be lucky if he just makes it back to Carson City next year.

Wesley Duncan is an Iraq War veteran and JAG reservist, and already THE top Republican recruit. And now that AD 37 has shifted from a safe Democratic seat to a tossup seat with a slight GOP registration edge that takes in some "Blood Red" territory in Sun City Summerlin, this may well be Nevada Republicans' top pick-up opportunity. And without a doubt, knocking out the Assembly's top Democrat would be an additional badge of honor for Duncan and top Republicans.

However, Marcus Conklin isn't making this easy for Duncan and Assembly GOP Leadership. While the $45,000 that Duncan has raised so far would be respectable in a normal race, Conklin has already piled up over $220,000 (!!!!!) and has lined up almost the entire "gaming-mining-lobbying industrial complex" (basically, everyone but Monte Miller and Sheldon Adelson) behind him. Still, we'll have to wait and see if the law of diminishing marginal returns kicks in. Will Conklin be able to pay for the kind of phenomenal outreach he'll most definitely need to win reelection, or will Duncan be able to turn this around and run against a "corrupt insider incumbent"?

AD 41
Enterprise/Paradise/Henderson- Silverado Ranch, Seven Hills
Nested into SD 20

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 57%
McCain (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 54%
Angle (R) 41%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 50%
R Reid (D) 46%

Race Rating: Leans Democratic

Paul Aizley (D-Paradise) is yet another Democratic incumbent faced with the misfortune of a more competitive Assembly District to run in. But unlike most of the other races, the dynamics of AD 41 and the likely Republican nominee give Aizley some hope. Phil Regeski doesn't have any primary competition, but that isn't stopping him from running hard to the "tea party" right and wholly embracing Chuck Muth & his "no tax" pledge.

While the addition of tony, GOP dominant Seven Hills will likely cause Aizley some heartburn while giving Regeski some hope, there may still be enough Democratic votes in Silverado Ranch to offset that. And if Regeski keeps toeing the Muth "tea party" line, nonpartisans may ultimately give long-time district resident and UNLV professor Aizley another look.

Washoe County

AD 26
Reno/Mount Rose/Incline Village
Nested into SD 16

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 51%
McCain (R) 47%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 47%
Angle (R) 47%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 62%
R Reid (D) 32%

Race Rating: Likely Republican

At least Democrats managed to field a candidate here, "some dude" named Rodney Petzak. Now, we just have to ask if that's enough to really scare Randy Kirner. Since Petzak doesn't even have a web site yet, I have serious doubts. And even worse, he's raised very little $ so far.

Unless Washoe Democrats run into a miracle soon, this is probably the last time you'll see this district on this list?

AD 31
Lemmon Valley/Sparks- Shadow Mountain
Nested into SD 14

US-Pres 2008
Obama (D) 53%
McCain (R) 45%

Estimated NV-Sen 2010
H Reid (D) 49%
Angle (R) 46%

Estimated NV-Gov 2010
Sandoval (R) 59%
R Reid (D) 35%

Race Rating: Tossup

This is likely the other Assembly race that Nevada Democrats are worrying about the most. Incumbent Richard "Skip" Daly (D-Sparks) had been used to running in a safe district. But now, he has to run in a seat where Republicans have a slight registration edge! And even worse, Nevada Republicans landed a top notch recruit in David Espinosa. Not only does he have a snazzy web site, thanks to his own background in IT, but he's also bringing forward policy proposals (like having e-readers replace traditional textbooks, and "incentive awards" for new technology) that one typically doesn't find on a campaign web site.

But then again, Skip Daly isn't your typical incumbent. He has a long history in Sparks, and he's known as a relentless campaigner. He'll really need those relentless campaign skills now, since the new AD 31 has a slight GOP registration advantage (just over 4%). However if both President Obama and Senator Harry Reid could win this district, perhaps Skip Daly can as well? So far he's outraised Espinosa by about 2-1, he's working the field hard on his own, and he can count on state party field work (for Obama and Shelley Berkley) to turn out more Democratic voters for him as well.

This may be another race that goes down to the wire.


Since March, the number of true Tossup races has shrunken. On one hand, Republicans have gained more of an upper hand in securing 4 and flipping 19, Democrats have gained more of an edge in holding 5, 12, and 29, as well as in winning the new 9. So here's the new list of the hottest Assembly races, listed in order of likelihood of Democratic win.

41 (Hold)
35 (Flip)
29 (Hold)
21 (Flip)
5 (Hold)
31 (Hold)
37 (Hold)
13 (Flip)
4 (Flip)
19 (Hold)

If the election were today, I'd draw the line after 31. This would mean Republicans gain 19 and 37... And knock out the very person Democrats thought would be the next Speaker. Ouch!

However, Republicans shouldn't get too giddy. After all, this also means Democrats gain 20 (a safe pickup), 9, 35, and 21, which is all Team Blue needs to reach the magic #28 needed for a 2/3 supermajority! While Assembly Democrats may be embarrassed over losing their Speaker-in-waiting, others may be happy just to be back at the sweet spot of 2/3. This would mean a net gain of 2 seats for Democrats.