Who’s A-list and who’s a longshot in the race to replace Harry Reid

After U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced he will not run for a sixth term, political prognosticators declared the post a “toss-up,” with either party able to win the seat in 2016.

Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval immediately was declared the favorite to win, though the popular leader has said he isn’t interested.

On the Democratic side, Reid played the queenmaker, endorsing former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to succeed him. Just days following his March 27 retirement announcement, Reid was in Las Vegas, plotting her path to victory, saying he would put his formidable machine behind her.

“We are going to do everything we can,” Reid told the New York Times over a bowl of chicken soup, settling into his new role of political Godfather. “I have to make sure I take care of the person running for Senate in Nevada.”

Several potential contenders already have taken themselves out of the running, from Reid’s eldest son, Rory, to former U.S. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who now runs Tuoro University in Nevada and California.harry reid

U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., said he would rather stay in the House, where he has served since 2011. But like Sandoval, the congressman likely will feel pressure from GOP leaders who want their best candidate in 2016’s hottest race after the presidency.

Meanwhile, Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said he’s preparing for re-election and “leaning no” on a Senate run. U.S. Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., has said in the past that he’s not interested, although Reid’s retirement could change that. State Treasurer Dan Schwartz, a Republican, said he would consider running only if Sandoval and Heck do not.

Yet the list of Nevadans who could try to join Washington’s exclusive club of 100 remains fairly long. Reid’s retirement has shifted the electoral ground, prompting relative newcomers and political veterans alike to consider the possibilities. Here’s a report card on some of the potential contenders:

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DEMOCRATS:

CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO

Money — A+: Cortez Masto should have no trouble filling Senate campaign coffers in a race that could exceed 2010’s highly competitive race in which both Reid and Republican Sharron Angle each raised and spent more than $25 million. Outside groups just about matched the candidates’ spending.

;) New mini NAG MASTO signs to placed all around the protest zone(s)

😉 New mini NAG MASTO signs to placed all around the protest zone(s)

On her own, Cortez Masto took in nearly $2.5 million for her elections in 2006 and 2010 and will have Reid as a rain­maker in 2016.

Since 2009, Reid has raised $23.6 million for his campaign committee, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Reid also helped land $46.7 million for the 2012 midterm elections for the Senate Democrats’ super PAC, Senate Majority PAC. Reid’s own campaign committee held $1.5 million as of Sept. 30.

Experience — B: Cortez Masto served eight years as attorney general after a career as a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., that gave her a taste of Capitol Hill.

Name Recognition — B: She’s held a high-profile statewide office for two terms and is a native Nevadan of Hispanic heritage. Her father, the late Manny Cortez, had a high profile in Southern Nevada as the longtime head of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and was partly responsible for making the Strip a tourist mecca.

Liability/Asset — C: Cortez Masto hasn’t had a tough campaign and might not be ready for a rough-and-tumble Senate race. She declined to challenge Sandoval last year.

DINA TITUS

Money — B: Titus has never had trouble raising money. She raised about $1.1 million last year for a 1st Congressional District race that wasn’t very competitive. She raised nearly $2.6 million for the highly competitive 2010 campaign in the 3rd Congressional District, which she lost to Heck. For a Senate run she could expect a lot of support from outside groups such as Emily’s List.

Experience — B: Titus has survived the campaign crucible and runs strong. Even her losses in some of the state’s most competitive districts were close. In 2010 she lost to Heck by just 1,748 votes.

Name Recognition — B: Titus has been around Nevada politics for decades, including 20 years in the state Senate (1988-2008) where she rose to become minority leader. She also has a statewide profile, having run for governor and losing to Republican Jim Gibbons in 2006.

Liability/Asset — B: Titus, a native Georgian, has a thick Southern accent that can dissuade voters who favor native Nevadans. Strongly independent, she isn’t afraid to cross Reid and wouldn’t hesitate to challenge Cortez Masto if she thinks she can win. Titus in 2012 ran for the 1st Congressional District after Reid hand-picked state Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, for the open seat. Kihuen dropped out before the primary.

ROSS MILLER

Money — A+: Miller is a talented fundraiser who brought in $2.6 million for his failed 2014 attorney general campaign.

Experience — C: At age 30, Miller became the youngest Nevada secretary of state in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. But he faced weak GOP challengers in both campaigns. In 2014, he lost his first truly competitive race to Adam Laxalt, a political newcomer who eked out a slim 4,750-vote victory, or 46.2 percent to 45.3 percent. Miller suffered in the low turnout race as Democrats stayed home, but his campaign also failed to turn voters against Laxalt.

Name Recognition — A: Miller held statewide office for eight years and boasts the highest social media profile among Nevada officials with nearly 17,500 Twitter followers. In addition, his father is Bob Miller, who was governor from 1989 to 1999.

Liability/Asset — C: Miller’s love of socializing proved his downfall against Laxalt. He reported accepting more than $70,000 in gifts while secretary of state, including tickets to sporting events such as the Ultimate Fighting Championship and football games where he sat in luxury skyboxes. Miller said some of the freebies were educational conferences. His opponents were able to exploit the gifts and question his ethics.

LUCY FLORES

Money — C: Flores raised nearly $754,000 in her failed 2014 race for lieutenant governor — not nearly enough to keep up with Republican Mark Hutchison, who raised about $2.5 million to win.

Experience — C: Flores served two terms in the Assembly, but neither of those elections featured tough competition. In 2010 she took 82.16 percent of the vote in the general election. She swept up 73 percent of the vote in a three-way primary in 2012 but faced no general election opponent at all.

Name Recognition — C:Little known outside of Clark County, her weak showing last year was her first statewide campaign. It focused on her bio — former gang member and high-school dropout who had an abortion as a teen, then went on to graduate from law school and enter politics. Inspiring to many, her hard-luck tale might not play well in conservative rural Nevada.

Liability/Asset — C: Hispanics comprise nearly 30 percent of Nevada’s population and Flores had the Latino vote last year, but she had trouble reaching other demographic groups statewide. She’s considered a long shot for a Senate bid but a better candidate for the 4th Congressional District.

KATE MARSHALL

Money — C: Her secretary of state campaign raised $715,245 last year but spent $100,000 more.

Experience — D: Marshall won two terms as state treasurer but failed in a 2011 special election for the 2nd Congressional District and lost the secretary of state job last year.

Name Recognition — C: Few Nevadans can name the state treasurer, even one who served two terms.

Liability/Asset — C: Her high-pitched voice can be grating; she’s a two-time loser in her most recent elections.

REPUBLICANS:

BOB BEERS

Money — B: He raised $152,000 in 2013 for his Las Vegas City Council campaign and has shown he can get bigger bucks when needed, including more than $500,000 for one past state Senate bid.

Experience — B: Beers served in the Nevada Assembly and Senate from 1999 to 2008 but was washed away by the Democratic wave that swept Barack Obama into the White House. He rebounded in 2012, beating eight other contenders in a Las Vegas City Council special election with 37 percent of the vote. The following year voters gave him a landslide re-election, with 76 percent of the vote.

Name Recognition — C: He ran in the 2006 GOP gubernatorial primary but isn’t widely known outside Clark County.

Liability/Asset — B: Beers is the first candidate to announce he’s running for Reid’s seat, putting out the word and 55,000 pamphlets in January 2014. An accountant, he’s known for asking lots of questions before spending taxpayer money and was a leader of the Assembly’s “mean 15” which blocked a proposed $1 billion tax hike in 2003.

BRIAN SANDOVAL

Money — A+: Running virtually un­opposed, Sandoval raised about $3.7 million for his 2014 re-election, plus $1.4 million for his New Nevada PAC helping other GOP candidates. He raised more than $5 million to easily defeat Rory Reid in 2010.

Experience — B: The governor has served in all three branches of government as a member of the Nevada Assembly, state attorney general and as a federal judge. He’s never faced a tough campaign.

Name Recognition —A: Not only is Sandoval widely known, he’s also popular. More than 60 percent of Nevadans say he does a good job. No credible Democrat would run against him last year, and his re-election was a 71-percent landslide. He’s also gaining popularity among Nevada Latinos, who lean Democrat. Latino Decisions said exit polls showed Sandoval got 47 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2014, up from 15 percent in 2010.

Liability/Asset — Incomplete: Sandoval insists he doesn’t want to run for the Senate but instead is focused on finishing his second four-year term, which runs through 2018. How Sandoval comes out of the Nevada Legislature could affect his political future: Will lawmakers approve his $7.3 billion spending plan that includes $1.1 billion in new and extended taxes to fund education? Is he as “unbeatable” as some insiders say? Stay tuned.

JOE HECK

Money —A: Heck raised nearly $2.5 million for his 2014 campaign and spent less than $2 million. He would have no trouble raising big bucks for a Senate race from gaming interests and other major Nevada industries.

Experience — B: Heck has been able to hang on to his seat in the 3rd Congressional District for several elections, although it’s the state’s most competitive House district with an even Republican-Democrat split and independents leaning GOP. He’s also had a taste of defeat: In 2008 he lost his state Senate seat in a Democratic wave election that put President Barack Obama in office.

Name Recognition — C: Heck maintains a fairly low profile as a serious, workaday congressman, and he has never run a statewide race. That could put him at a disadvantage against someone with statewide campaign experience.

Liability/Asset — B: Heck’s promotion last year to brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve and past active duty as a doctor in Iraq make him an appealing candidate, particularly among Nevada’s large veteran population. But the moderate has come under fire from the left for voting with the conservative House caucus on hot-button issues such as immigration and equal pay. Heck said he’s staying put in the House, but 2016 could be his best chance to move up to the U.S. Senate.

BRIAN KROLICKI

Money — B: Krolicki hasn’t had a big-money race, although he raised $640,000 and spent $1.1 million in his first election for lieutenant governor in 2006. He raised about half that for his 2010 re-election.

Experience — B: He’s been around state government and GOP politics for a long time, serving two terms as state treasurer followed by two terms as lieutenant governor. He contemplated a run against Reid in 2010 but was sidelined by an ethics investigation that ultimately foundered.

Name Recognition — C: Krolicki has been on the statewide ballot four times, but remains relatively unknown.

Liability/Asset — D: His career took a hit with his 2008 indictment related to management of a college savings program while state treasurer. A judge later dismissed the felony charges, which Krolicki characterized as a partisan attack by then-Attorney General Cortez Masto.

MARK HUTCHISON

Money — A: Hutchison showed he can raise money — lots of it — even for the low-profile post of lieutenant governor. He raised at least $2.5 million to win a part-time job that puts him in line to replace Sandoval, if need be.

Experience — B: A newcomer to politics, Hutchison resigned his state Senate seat midterm to run for lieutenant governor as Sandoval’s choice. The stakes were high, but Hutchison sailed into office with 59.5 percent of the vote.

Name Recognition — C: Hutchison’s campaign attracted a lot of attention and he crisscrossed the state several times, yet he remains relatively unknown.

Liability/Asset — B: Sandoval’s support is a big plus. An attorney, Hutchison represented Nevada for free in its challenge to Obamacare — work that made him popular among conservatives but could hurt him among Democrats.

MICHAEL ROBERSON

Money — B: Roberson raised more than $600,000 last year toward his 2014 state Senate race, plus money for a PAC and other candidates, helping the GOP take control of the upper house.

Experience — C: His political career has taken off like a rocket since his first election to the state Senate in 2010. But the Senate majority leader never has been tested in a statewide race.

Name Recognition — C: His state Senate leadership gets his name out there, but his lack of a statewide run means he’s not that widely known. On the plus side, his base is Clark County, home to 75 percent of all Nevadans.

Liability/Asset — B: Roberson first ran as a strict conservative but has become a moderate over time. He’s now pushing for Sandoval’s $7.3 billion general fund budget and $1.1 billion package of new and extended taxes. This could hurt him in any GOP primary but help him during a general election. Insiders say family considerations and a desire to stay in the Legislature weigh against a U.S. Senate race, for now.

ADAM LAXALT

Money — A: Laxalt surprised many observers by raising more than $1.8 million in his first political campaign to score an upset over better-financed Ross Miller in last year’s attorney general race. He tapped conservatives in Washington, D.C., where his mother, Michelle Laxalt, was a widely known lobbyist. Acquaintances of his grandfather, former Nevada Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, also ponied up.

Experience — C: Laxalt was a Navy judge advocate general and a lawyer in a private practice in Las Vegas. But he has only lived in Nevada for a few years and has run just one campaign. He would be sorely tested in a high-stakes contest that could decide which party controls the U.S. Senate.

Name Recognition — B: Laxalt’s family name helped him win support statewide. He also spent a lot of time traveling the dusty roads to reach every corner of Nevada last year.

Liability/Asset — C: During the campaign, an operative leaked a memo from a Laxalt job review at the private firm, Lewis Roca, where he worked. It said he had sloppy legal skills and was “a train wreck” as a lawyer. His campaign countered by releasing rave reviews he got in the military, including when he oversaw terrorism cases in Baghdad. Laxalt has suggested he wants to focus on his new job but hasn’t ruled out a Senate bid.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

County commissioners to fill state Senate vacancy

Clark County commissioners today will pick a Republican to fill a vacancy in the Nevada Senate, which will have a slim 11-10 GOP majority in the 2015 session.

Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, resigned Monday from his Senate District 6 seat after being elected lieutenant governor in November. He submitted his letter of resignation to Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Nearly a dozen applicants are seeking the position. The one with the highest public profile is Mark Lipparelli, former chairman of the State Gaming Control Board.

Others include Charles Harvey, a former administrator of the Nevada Taxicab Authority, and Jearld “Jerry” Hafen, a former director of Nevada’s Department of Public Safety under former Gov. Jim Gibbons.

Other applicants include Linda Hildebrant, a senior business manager; William Cimo, a tax lien investor and gaming expert; Donald Hotchkiss Jr., a civil engineer; Rick Welte, an insurance agent and manager; Glenn Trowbridge, a retired director of Clark County Parks and Recreation; Brian Hardy, an attorney; Donald Graham, a Las Vegas police sergeant; and David Marlon, president of Solutions Recovery, which provides clinical treatment for addictions.

“I was very, very impressed with the quality of the applications,” said County Commissioner Larry Brown, whose district includes the Senate district. “Some of the candidates have over 30 years of service in the community.”

The commission will meet shortly after 9 a.m. today at the Clark County Government Center, 500 S. Grand Central Parkway.

The applicant who is selected will serve out the remainder of Hutchison’s term and can decide to run in the November 2016 election. Because Hutchison is a Republican, applicants are required to be members of the same party.

In his announcement, Hutchison, who is in the middle of a four-year term in the state Senate, said his resignation will allow the Clark County Commission to move forward in a smooth and transparent manner to appoint a replacement.

Hutchison will be sworn in as the new lieutenant governor in January.

Sean Whaley contributed to this report. Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

aljazeera: Nevada lieutenant governor race could have national implications

A race that normally garners little attention outside state lines has drawn the gaze of national politicians

LAS VEGAS — Two weeks before the election, early voting began in Nevada. More than 20 political organizers filed in to a room at the Culinary Workers Union Local 226, one of the state’s most powerful labor groups. The union represents more than 55,000 casino and hotel workers, from housekeepers and cocktail waitresses to cooks and doormen — more than half of them Hispanic.

The room is a sea of red. Union members taking political leave from their jobs to get people to the polls are wearing bright red T-shirts emblazoned with bold white letters that leave no mistake about their mission: “Las Vegas vote now!”

The union’s focus is on Nevada State Senate District 9, which covers parts of Clark County. The union is backing Democratic incumbent Justin Jones, who is in a dead heat with Republican opponent Becky Harris. If Jones loses, Republicans would likely take control of the Senate by reversing the Democrats’ 11-10 majority.

While that state Senate race is the focus locally, Nevada’s lieutenant governor’s race, which rarely draws attention beyond state lines, is garnering all the attention on the national stage.

The importance of the part-time lieutenant governor’s job is magnified this year because if Gov. Brian Sandoval, who is up for re-election, wins as expected but leaves office before the end of his term — his name has been floated for a 2016 U.S. Senate run, a presidential ticket and a Cabinet post in the next administration — Nevada’s lieutenant governor automatically becomes governor.

The race is shaping into a heated battle for party control between two top guns in the Republican and Democratic parties — Sandoval, a Republican, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

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America votes 2014

Al Jazeera’s in-depth coverage of the US midterm elections

Sandoval, a northern Nevadan who faces token opposition and is a shoo-in for re-election, almost immediately put his clout and money behind a lawyer from southern Nevada running for lieutenant governor, Republican state Sen. Mark Hutchison, 51.

Reid, a Nevada Democrat from the small town of Searchlight, an hour from Vegas, faces re-election in 2016 and a potential challenge from Sandoval. Reid jumped into the lieutenant governor’s race by putting his party’s support behind a young and charismatic Latina lawyer, Democratic state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, 34.

Either way, it will tip political clout in the Western swing state to reflect demographic realities. Until now, the whiter, more conservative and rural northern part of the state around Reno has dominated state politics, largely because of higher voter turnout, even though Las Vegas’ more diverse Clark County at the southern tip of the state is more populous.

“The governor smartly realized that the best insurance policy is a southern Republican,” said Robert Lang, director of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas’ Brookings Mountain West, a partnership with the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C., think tank. Almost 74 percent of Nevada’s population is in Clark County, he said, but “southern Nevada has not seen an effective translation of its demographic dominance.”

Of Flores, David Damore, an associate professor of political science at UNLV, said, “She’s young, ambitious and very smart … but she only has two terms in the Assembly. She doesn’t have a huge political record.”

Nor does Hutchison, who is serving his first term in the state senate. But Hutchison, a lawyer and Vegas native, has big backers and a longer track record as a lawyer. He won the endorsement of The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

And it doesn’t hurt that Hutchison, like Reid, is a Mormon with strong ties to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Sandoval came out really early for him,” Damore said. “To some degree, it was Sandoval stepping up as the most prominent Republican in the state. There’s a bandwagon of support, and they spent a lot of money … Sandoval’s biggest gift to Hutchison is access to donors.”

Lucy Flores

Without a serious governor’s race in Nevada, the main draw is the lieutenant governor’s duel between Democrat Lucy Flores, above, and Republican Mark Hutchison.
Cathleen Allison / AP

The majority of Nevada’s Latinos vote Democratic. But the Democrats’ pull on Hispanic voters may be largely diluted because Sandoval is Latino, and his backing of Hutchison could weaken Flores’ edge with that electorate.

“Sandoval hasn’t made that [his Hispanic roots] a big part of his political identity,” Damore said. “He’s a northern guy, and most Latinos are in southern Nevada. At the same time, Lucy hasn’t run outside the Assembly, but she has the advantage of being from the south and being a Democrat.”

But even the mostly Latino culinary union is supporting Sandoval, as Hutchison puts out Spanish-language ads to reach Latino voters, calls for comprehensive immigration reform and supports driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

In a recent national poll by Latino Decisions, an opinion research firm, 53 percent of Hispanics said they felt that Democrats were unwilling to take political risks in support of immigration but still expected Latino support.

“They’re starting to have questions about whether Democrats are standing up for immigration rights,” said Matt Barreto, a co-founder of Latino Decisions. “Latinos are frustrated with the lack of progress on immigration reform … Both parties tend to lose support if they continue to take the Latino vote for granted.”

On top of that, getting Hispanics out to vote is a bigger battle now that the president they helped elect has delayed executive action on immigration reform. The union is sending buses to give casino and hotel workers rides to the polls.

“There are a lot of expectations that the Latino vote won’t be as strong here as it was in the presidential elections,” Damore said.

Yvanna Cancela, the union’s political director agrees that there’s not much excitement over the election. “There is disillusionment on a lot of issues,” she said.

That’s why the union is changing its message. “In the past, we talked about a candidate to rally around. This time, we talk about what it means to have the right to vote,” she said. “It’s more about explaining that if we don’t make our voices heard, we don’t have the tool to complain.”

‘[Hispanic voters are] starting to have questions about whether Democrats are standing up for immigration rights. Latinos are frustrated with the lack of progress on immigration reform.’

Matt Barreto

co-founder, Latino Decisions

Things don’t look good for Flores so far. A poll last week showed Hutchison with a double-digit lead, a tough gap to close when his campaign has attracted big donors, including casinos. By mid-October he raised more than $1 million, triple what Flores’ campaign brought in.

The culinary union is endorsing Flores. So is the Latino Victory Project, the national organization co-founded by actress and activist Eva Longoria to build power in the Latino community.

“There are more than 53 million Latinos in the U.S. and only eight statewide Latinos elected,” said Cristobal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project. “We think Lucy could be number nine. She was the first Latino elected to the state assembly.”

Latino values are American values, he added, saying, “Affordable health care, immigration reform, a living wage … Flores understands what it’s like to come from very little.”

Flores dropped out of school, joined gangs and spent time in juvenile detention before turning her life around. She ended up graduating from the University of Southern California and getting a law degree from UNLV. She received death threats after she talked openly about having an abortion at age 16.

“Yes, the governor is a Latino, but we think his position and support behind the candidate [Hutchison] isn’t about Latino values,” Alex said. “It’s really about job security.”

Hutchison

Hutchison during a debate with Flores, Oct. 15, 2014, in Las Vegas.
John Locher / AP

Teams of union workers were going door to door in a mostly white middle- to upper-middle-class neighborhood in a southwestern section of Las Vegas, electronic tablets in hand. The data on their handheld devices are updated daily with a log of members of households who have voted and those who haven’t.

“We start at 9, we get a new turf list, and we hit the field and walk door to door until 5:45,” said Iladia Medrano, 37, a Texas-born Mexican-American who has worked four years as a housekeeper at the Hilton Grand Vacations Elara, just off the Strip.

She and about 20 others have been doing this since Sept. 3 and will keep doing it until Election Day. “Some say they’re still undecided,” she said. “We keep going back.”

Ingrid Montenegro, 40, a snack bar attendant at Bally’s Hotel for 12 years, knocks on a door. Dogs bark. No one answers. She knows she’ll have to return and try again.

An exasperated woman opens the door on Tee Pee Lane and makes it clear that she’s tired of the constant visits and piles of fliers. She’s listed on Medrano’s log as a registered Republican. No matter. Medrano calmly tells her, “It won’t stop until you vote.”

All of it seems worthwhile when Montenegro spots two familiar faces entering an early-voting center in a trailer set up in a shopping center parking lot on Fort Apache Road.

“This couple, I remember them,” she said. “I knocked on their door.”

Election 2014: Flores, Hutchison face off in debate for Lt. gov.

LAS VEGAS — Republican Mark Hutchison touted his endorsement from Gov. Brian Sandoval and said he’d be a great teammate for the popular leader if he’s elected as lieutenant governor, while Democrat Lucy Flores said she’ll ask questions, hold people accountable and be “more than a rubber stamp.”

The comments came Wednesday, during a taping of a debate set to air Friday evening on Vegas PBS. Polls suggest a relatively close race for the part-time post, which would lead to the top job in the state if the governor lives up to speculation and leaves his position midterm.

“I’ve got the experience, having owned my own law firm, my own small business, to understand what’s needed to bring small businesses to Nevada,” said Hutchison, a state senator and Las Vegas-based attorney who has raised nearly four times the campaign money of his opponent.

MSNBC Gushes Over Nevada Dem Who Was A Felon & Had Abortion: “Rising Star In The Democratic Party”

Flores said she grew up “pretty low-income” and had trouble with the law as a teen before she turned her life around, earned a law degree and became a state assemblywoman.

“I believe there’s an incredible opportunity for someone … to really bring the perspective of the everyday Nevadan to the top leadership positions in Nevada,” Flores said.

The candidates fielded questions about growing tourism in Nevada, which is one of the primary tasks of the office. The lieutenant governor chairs the state Commission on Tourism.

Hutchison said he would work with airlines to bring in more international customers, then work to lengthen tourists’ stays in Nevada.

Flores said she wouldn’t take the approach of Hutchison, who recently suggested building a satellite tourism office in India. The focus should instead be on close neighbors in Mexico, Canada and Hawaii, she said.

The two also faced questions about their records on taxes and education policy in the Nevada Legislature.

Hutchison supported a tax on mining as a way to fund education, but it died during the 2013 session. He said at a debate last month that the measure was meant to start a conversation about revenue.

“The first and best way is through growth and economic opportunities,” he said, adding that the next step would be having “a big discussion” about how to broaden the tax base and lower rates.

Flores, who said she opposes the margins tax initiative on the November ballot as well as single-industry taxes like the mining proposal, criticized Republican legislators for blocking past Democratic plans to raise revenue. She pointed to a failed plan in 2011 to tax services.

“We’re not going to grow our way out of our problems,” she said. “We’ve tried it, and it doesn’t work.”

On education, Hutchison said Flores was the candidate of the status quo. He criticized her for blocking a $2 million plan that would have brought 100 recent college graduates to Nevada through Teach for America, a program that places young teachers in low-achieving schools, and said she didn’t back a plan that would allow low-performing schools to morph into charter schools if parents supported the move.

“You need someone who not only supports more revenue, but also reform,” he said.

Flores said the Teach for America bill came up on the last day of the session and was not properly vetted. She said $2 million would be better spent developing existing teachers, and said the proposals Hutchison touted didn’t address the underlying issues in Nevada schools.

“I don’t support Band-Aid solutions. We need to adequately fund education,” she said.

RJ poll: Hutchison winning lieutenant governor, margins tax failing, In the attorney general’s race, Democrat Ross Miller would pull off a narrow victory, 44-39, over Republican Adam Laxalt, according to the poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

…But Lucy Flores is way way hotter than this ugly dude.

If the November election were today, Republican state Sen. Mark Hutchison would handily defeat Democratic Assemblywoman Lucy Flores 47 percent to 35 percent of the vote in the lieutenant governor’s race, which could also affect GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval’s future, a new poll shows.

In the attorney general’s race, Democrat Ross Miller would pull off a narrow victory, 44-39, over Republican Adam Laxalt, according to the poll commissioned by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

But the wide-open race for secretary of state between Republican Barbara Cegavske, a state senator, and Democrat Kate Marshall, the state treasurer, is a statistical tie, 43-42 for Cegavske.

Finally, a proposed business margins tax to fund education, Question 3 on the ballot, appears headed for defeat with more likely Nevada voters against it than for it, 40-37, while more than one-fifth of voters, or 23 percent, remain uncertain how they’ll vote in the final weeks before the Nov. 4 general election.

On Question 3, the results are well within the margin of error — plus or minus 4.2 percentage points — said the pollster, SurveyUSA. Republicans oppose Q3 by 30 points, while Democrats support it by 34 points, showing a strong partisan divide. Independents could decide the matter, siding with the GOP in opposing the margins tax by 30 percentage points, the survey said.

Lower-income voters support Q3 and upper-income voters oppose it. Women are split, while men oppose the proposed tax, which would apply to businesses making $1 million or more in annual revenue even if they are not profitable. The proceeds are supposed to go toward education, but there’s no guarantee — the Legislature could move the money around.

“If ‘Yes’ wins, it will be because traditional Democratic constituencies are under-counted in this survey,” the pollster said. “Opposition to ballot measures — having nothing to do with Nevada and nothing in particular to do with Question 3 — typically increases as Election Day approaches. Q3 supporters have their work cut out.”

The survey of 569 likely Nevada voters was conducted by SurveyUSA over both land lines and cell phones fromSept. 29 through Oct. 1. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

In the lieutenant governor’s race, Hutchison smashes Flores 47-35, but Mark Little of the Independent American Party is a potential spoiler, picking up 6 percent of the vote. Another 3 percent of survey respondents said they would vote for “None of these candidates,” a statewide option in Nevada.

Hutchison leads by 19 percentage points among men, said the pollster, and has twice as many Democrats who say they would cross-over and vote Republican as do Republicans who plan to vote Democratic.

“Moderates break for the Republican, a bad sign for any Democrat,” the pollster said.

The race has taken on an outsize importance this year. Sandoval has no real Democratic opposition and is expected to skate to re-election. There is speculation that Sandoval, a former federal judge, might not finish his four-year term and return to the bench, run for vice president or join the Cabinet of a Republican president. He also could make a U.S. Senate bid against Senate Majority Harry Reid, D-Nev., in 2016.

If any of those jobs lure Sandoval out of the Governor’s Mansion, the lieutenant governor elected next month would automatically replace him.

The attorney general’s race is proving to be far more competitive than anticipated by Secretary of State Miller, who has won two, four-year terms in his current statewide office job and has high name recognition thanks to his father, former Gov. Bob Miller, as well.

Laxalt’s grandfather is former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, but the younger Laxalt moved to Nevada for his law practice just a few ago and this is his first run at public office.

A month out, Miller has a “razor-thin 5 point advantage over” Laxalt because the 44-39 result is just outside the margin of error, the pollster said.

Again, the Independent American Party candidate, Jonathan J. Hansen, takes 7 percent, and “seriously confounds any calculus of the contest,” making it harder to call, the pollster said.

“If Miller wins, it will be thanks to moderate voters: he leads among self-described moderates by 17 points,” according to the pollster. “If Laxalt overtakes, it may be because of a Republican ‘wave’ that some foresee coast-to-coast in 2014.”

Millions of dollars in outside ad spending in the race by GOP and Democratic attorneys general organizations and others may help determine the outcome.

The open secretary of state’s race is a true one-on-one contest with neither candidate dominating any one voter group, thus the current 43-42 statistical dead heat.

“The candidates truly are battling for each last vote: neither candidate reaches 50 percent among males, females, the young, the old, whites, blacks, Hispanics, independents or moderates,” the pollster said. “Either candidate could win, and a close finish would not be an upset regardless of the top vote-getter.”

Some five percent of voters said they will choose “None of these candidates” in that race. Another 10 percent were undecided.

Election 2014: Nevada Lt. Gov. candidates tout backgrounds at Carson City Community Center along with Congress District 2 candidates

Mark Hutchison and Democratic opponent Lucy Flores disagreed on issues that are beyond the reach of the office they seek.Candidates for Lieutenant Governor Lucy Flores and Mark Hutchison come to the issues — especially education — from diverse ends of the spectrum.

Flores, a Democratic Assemblywoman from Las Vegas, told the League of Women Voters candidate forum Tuesday she understands “the challenges everyday Nevadans face.”

“I have experience with those challenges firsthand,” she said saying her mother left when she was nine and, when she failed every exam on purpose, “no one noticed.”

“I ended up on juvenile parole by 15. By 17, I was a drop out,” she said.

She said she’s now a practicing attorney because, “eventually, I did get some one who made a difference in my life and surprisingly, it was my parole officer.”

She said all children deserve the same access to a high-quality education and “what was done for me should be done for others.”

Hutchison a Republican state senator from Las Vegas, said he’s a third generation Nevadan whose grandfather came to Nevada during the depression. He said his dad worked for Ahern 45 years and he started working at the business when he was 12. He went to law school and built a law practice while raising six children.

“At the end of the day, I have lived the American dream,” he said. “I want to help as many Nevadans as possible live the American dream.”

Both emphasized the importance of education.

“Education is to state government what national defense is to the federal government,” Hutchison said. “It’s the one thing you’d better get right.”

He said in the 2013 session, lawmakers and Gov. Brian Sandoval pumped $50 million into English Language Learner programs.

But Flores quickly pointed out that wasn’t new money.

“What is being referred to as an addition is actually a replacement,” she said. “We’ve cut education a billion dollars but replaced only a quarter of that. I will continue to fight for a real increase in funding.”

Asked whether they support the ballot question removing constitutional protections limiting taxes on the mining industry, Flores said yes, it should be replaced with “a broad-cased, reasonable tax structure so we spread that liability amongst all industries in Nevada.”

Hutchison cautioned the state “not do something that constrains (mining’s) ability to employ Nevadans.” But he did say he voted for putting the question on the ballot.

Both said if the teacher’s tax plan — the margins tax — passes, the state should make sure the money raised goes to education and isn’t diverted elsewhere in the state budget.

Asked about the increased college fees the questioner said are pricing college out of reach for the average student, Hutchison said more competition would help bring prices down. He pointed tovocational schools such as ITT Tech as alternatives for Nevada’s colleges and other ways such as Internet classes.

“We need really to allow people to get into good paying jobs that may or may not be going to college,” he said.

Flores said Nevada hasn’t done a good job of aligning workforce needs withworkforce development. She said despite a longtime shortage of healthcare workers, “only recently did we start expanding our nursing programs.”

Where she said she supports background checks to purchase guns, Hutchison said he saw the bill vetoed by Sandoval as creating a federal gun registry.

Hutchison, Flores disagree over Tesla in Reno debate

During a debate taped Monday for the Nevada Newsmakers television show, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor Mark Hutchison and Democratic opponent Lucy Flores disagreed on issues that are beyond the reach of the office they seek.

The debate is to be shown at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday on KRNV News 4 but eventually will be televised statewide by day’s end.

Hutchison, a state senator from Las Vegas, and Flores, an assemblywoman from Las Vegas, had their sharpest disagreements on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the public transparency of the Tesla Motors mega-deal with Nevada and the funding of Northern Nevada infrastructure improvements to deal with the boon expected from the Tesla battery gigafactory.

None of those issues can be directly affected by the role of lieutenant governor. Anything is open in this race because of the speculation that current Gov. Brian Sandoval could run for the U.S. Senate in 2016 against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

If Sandoval would defeat Reid, the winner of this lieutenant governor’s race would automatically become Nevada’s next governor. Therefore, many issues have become part of the campaign.

Health-care law

Hutchison was Nevada’s lead counsel in its lawsuit to overturn the federalAffordable Health Care Act in 2012. He lamented its impact on Nevada, despite voting three times as a state senator to implement its provisions in Nevada.

“In terms of providing health care, I supported the governor’s budget that expandedMedicaid,” Hutchison said. “It gives opportunities for those who need it the most to have access to health care,” Hutchison said.

Hutchison added: “Obamacare has not been right for Nevada. We’ve seen prices go up for the government, for patients who are insured. We have seen people kicked off their heath care (plans). And Obamacare, I just don’t think is right for Nevada.”

Flores said she “vehemently” disagreed.

“The fact is we have affordable health care now for so many Nevadans,” Flores said. “You cannot get kicked off your insurance. You can insure your children when they are in college.

“Quite frankly, my father was able to get expanded insurance and save hundreds and hundreds of dollars because he had an urgent medical need,” said Flores, who like Hutchison is a lawyer. “I am very happy that my opponent failed in his attempt to take those benefits away from the people of Nevada (in the Obamacare lawsuit).”

The disagreement over funding of school construction in Washoe County flared up when the candidates were asked about their plans to deal with the infrastructure overload on school, roads and public safety with the Tesla battery gigafactory.

It is set to be built 17 miles east of the Reno-Sparks area at the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center. Many of its 6,000 to 6,500 expected workers will live in Washoe County.

Washoe schools

Flores said Hutchison did not support AB46 during the 2013 Legislature – the bill that would have added funding for the Washoe school district’s capital spending to fix its aging inventory of schools. Instead, Assembly Republicans helped steer the issue to the Washoe County Commission, which eventually killed it.

“Unfortunately, my opponent passed on supporting a bill that would have allowed the Washoe school district to improve on their buildings and repair the very old structures of our schools here in Washoe County,” Flores said. “It was incredibly needed, and they (Republicans) punted it to the Washoe County Commission and you can see that it did not occur.”

Flores noted that Tesla will help school funding. The electric car company will give $7.5 million an year to Nevada’s K-12 education over five years, according to its deal with the state.

“Tesla is going to give a certain amount of funds to the schools,” she said. “However, that is not for several years. So we have to deal with (school funding) issues as they come up.”

Hutchison defended moving the Washoe school-renovation funding issue to the county commission. Local issues are best handled by local leaders, he said.

“I am a person who believes that local government ought to solve local issues and I think many of my fellow legislators feel the same way,” Hutchison said.

“If there are issues in Clark County regarding school matters, particularly in school construction and school infrastructure, I think that is best handled by local authorities,” he said. “I see the same thing for Washoe County. Those government entities that are closest to the parents, closest to the issues make the best decisions.”

Tesla transparency

Flores and Hutchison also clashed over the transparency of the Tesla deal, which includes tax abatements that could reach about $1.3 billion.

Flores noted she was asked by the RGJ Media editorial board what she would have done differently if she were in on the Tesla negotiations from the beginning.

“That package, when it arrived to us at the Legislature, was essentially a done deal,” she said. “We were attempting to do as much as we could to provide transparency, to provide accountability.”

Flores said she would have fought for paying prevailing wages during the construction of the Tesla site.

“Certainly if we could have gotten prevailing wage, that is absolutely something that I would have fought for at the beginning, at the front end certainly not at the back end,” she said.

Flores twice said during the debate she “won’t be a rubber stamp.”

“Just because the governor – or anybody else for that matter – comes in and says ‘This is a great idea, do it,’ we’re not just going to say ‘Yes, fantastic.’ There needs to be a process of accountability,” she said.

Hutchison defended the way Sandoval handled the deal with Tesla.

“We had Texas, California, New Mexico and Arizona all competing (for Tesla),” Hutchison said. “And as a necessity, I can tell you as a business lawyer, a lot of times those business transactions and business discussions are confidential. And if you don’t agree with those terms, they are not going to negotiate with you.

“We got Tesla,” Hutchison said. “And that was the buzz all across the country.”

Many of the infrastructure needs will be solved by “good jobs” and the local taxes that come with them, Hutchison said.

“A good job will solve many of the challenges, in terms of the impact we have on our schools, on our social services and law enforcement,” Hutchison said. “So, good jobs solve a lot of those challenges.”

•••

The only candidate for Nevada Attorney General to show up for the league forum in Carson City was Republican Adam Laxalt. Democrat Ross Miller wasn’t there and didn’t send a representative or statement.

Laxalt said his training and experience as a Naval officer help qualify him for the job of Nevada’s top legal officer. He said that includes service in the Middle East where he worked in detainee operations, the unit setup to handle terrorists in Iraq.

He said one of the things he would do as AG is create a military legal service to support former troops.

He said he would continue Catherine Cortez Masto’s efforts to aggressively attack the growing problem of human trafficking.

“We need to keep on the offensive,” he said.

He said he also would work to fight against invasive federal regulations and support continued efforts to prevent Yucca Mountain from ever opening as a nuclear waste dump.

Congress District 2 candidates spar at Carson City Community Center

Democrat Kristin Spees of Incline Village charged Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., hasn’t done enough in the three years he has been in that office.

“Look at his voting record. Roads and bridges are falling apart. What has he done? What has he done to support our veterans,” she asked.

Amodei said he has moved heavy lands bills as a member of the Public Lands Committee and brought legislation on a number of Nevada issues as a member of Appropriations and the Public Lands committees.

That includes a half dozen lands bills for Nevada including the Yerington Lands Bill and the potential listing of the sage hen as endangered; he said he has been working on those issues for three years.

Amodei said he and his staff “have tried to establish ourselves as people who are work horses, not show horses.”

As for the sage hen, he said, as a member of Appropriations, he managed to insert language delaying potential listing of the bird for another year.

“It’s not the bird that’s in danger; it’s the habitat,” he said. “What happened to the habitat? It burned up. It’s not because of more cows, more sheep, people on dirt bikes.”

Spees said she doesn’t want the land listed “because we lose access to our public lands.”

Independent American Party candidate Janine Hansen agreed the problem is wildfires, not human-caused loss of habitat. She said those fires are the BLM’s fault.

The three aired their views at the a League Of Women Voter’s forum Tuesday night at the Carson City Community Center.

Spees said she has crisscrossed the northern half of the state that makes up District 2 and knows the issues and the needs of its residents. She charged Amodei missed more than twice the number of votes the average congressman did this past year.

Many of those missed votes, however, were held while he was recovering from surgery to repair a detached retina, which he said requires the patient be pretty much immobilized.

On the Affordable Health Care Act, Spees said everyone needs healthcare and, if the law is flawed, “let’s find those problems and solve it. Let’s fix the ACA and not try repeal it.”

“The political reality is for the next 24 months, Affordable Care is not going to be repealed,” said Amodei.

He said Congress needs to do the things it should have done before it was voted into law at 2 a.m. without members having time to read it.

Hansen said the act has raised the cost of medicine for people working in Elko area mines and reduced their benefits.

“What you have with this is socialized medicine,” she said.

All agreed the immigration system needs repairs and now.

Amodei said he’s for reform but a decent bill by a bipartisan group hasn’t made it to a vote.

Hansen said people are “pouring over the border and we need to respond to this crisis and protect America first.”

Spees said it’s necessary “we reform immigration right now.”

She said the number one concern of seniors is social security but the question is how to protect it.

“We can’t privatize Social Security. That’s your retirement,” she said. “What if Goldman-Sachs got a hold of it.”

Amodei said people “need to demand courage from your people (elected officials).”

“If you disagree with what they do, every two years you can fire them,” he said referring to the election cycle for House members.

Hansen said the reason Social Security is in financial trouble is Congress has taken money from the fund repeatedly for other needs.

She said the focus of her campaign is the need to cut taxes and “unconstitutional spending,” promote free enterprise and job creation.

Spees said she is “owned by no one and therefore can vote for the constituents’ best interests.”

Amodei said elections are a personnel session: “We try to make the basis of whether we get elected or not the job you’re doing — if you want a worker, that’s us.”

Sue Lowden announces bid for lieutenant governor

ImageCARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Former Nevada State Senator Sue Lowden is throwing her hat into the race for lieutenant governor.

The Republican announced her bid Wednesday morning, saying she’d make the part-time position her full-time job if elected.

Gov. Brian Sandoval has already endorsed another Republican, State Sen. Mark Hutchison, in the race, which could be a springboard into the governor’s mansion.

The lieutenant governor steps in if the governor leaves office. The winner could take over if Sandoval wins re-election in 2014 as expected and then runs for a federal office two years later.

Lowden is a former Nevada Republican Party chairwoman who ran for U.S. Senate in 2010. She lost the Republican primary to Sharron Angle, who later lost the Senate bid to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Letters to the Editor of RGJ and NV Appeal – Why Nevada needs to clean up the corruption, not a new appellate court

The Las Vegas Sun ran a story about the Nevada Supreme Court and the need for an appeals court. Our position is the Nevada should clean up the lower courts first since Nevada ranks near the bottom of the list for corruptibility. See Mike Weston’s Letter to the Editor of the Reno and Carson City newspapers.

RGJ Opnion

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opinion shopLetters to the Editor:

Clean up the lower courts and the corruption. Nevada received a D- grade on the Center for Public Integrity study in 2012 indicating rampant corruption. Nevada was one of the worst State in the Union. Time after time we hear the horror stories of judges running amuck and acting above the law by acting under the color of law to carry out vendettas and help the good ol boy network.

The road kill includes the likes of Las Vegas Judge Kathy Kathy Halverson, Reno Judge Jerry Carr Whitehead, Douglas Co Judge Jim EnEarl. New controversy is happening in Reno and Carson City with Judges Scott Pearson and John Tatro where the law is completely ignored and justice is obstructed in the cases of Reno resident Mike Weston and ANTI-Corruption activist Ty Robben from So. Tahoe, and formally Carson City, NV.

We’re getting attention, and we have the “Worlds Largest CRIME SCENE tape” and 4 foot tall by 150 long bright yellow banner and other massive signs like “John Tatro End the RAMPANT Corruption” and “Masto Backdates” and “Treason is a Capital crime”.

Both of us have been “demanding justice” using the legal system, however the system is broken. Judge Pearson is ignoring the DA Dick Gammick’s willingness to vacate and expunge a trumped up charge from over 8 years ago and now admits NHP edited the audio video dash cam footage!

Ty Robben has filed criminal, civil and judicial ethics complaints in his cases involving Judge Tatro.

Las Vegas Sun Brian Sandoval Security beefed up

Why Nevada needs a new appellate court

Sens. Tick Segerblom and Mark Hutchison

Friday, March 22, 2013 | 2:02 a.m.

Article 6 of the Nevada Constitution currently provides for one appellate court — the Supreme Court. Every single appeal from decisions rendered by Nevada’s 82 District Courts must be reviewed by the Supreme Court. This two-tier court structure has resulted in a staggering caseload for the Nevada Supreme Court, and the delay of justice — sometimes by years — for Nevada citizens. Continue reading

Nevadagate by Guy Felton – Ombudsman for Nevada

Nevadagate a youtube series exposing Nevada government corruption  by GuyFelton – Ombudsman for Nevada.  These youtube videos dig into an array of Nevada government corruption, conspiracies and cover-ups. Guy Felton has helped the Nevada ANTI-Corruption movement in his protesting efforts and his unique abilities to convey corruption in our youtube videos and his new series called Nevadagate. Please see Guy’s work below and visit his website Booksampler.net

Guy Felton is WAS running for U. S. Congress in 2011. Hooray! In this video, Guy discusses the controversy and conspiracy  surrounding the former University of Nevada Reno (“UNR”) President Milton Glick who allegedly died of stroke at 73 – but was it really a suicide or murder?

Uploaded on May 28, 2011

Guy’s background includes: Marine Corps Reservist, Intelligence Operative, Police Officer, Classroom Teacher, Head of Negotiations for Nevada State Education Association (now having 27,000 members), Newspaper Columnist, Newspaper Photographer, Executive Jobsearch Consultant (Listed in “Who’s Who in America”), Volunteer Ombudsman for the People of Nevada (the latter resulting in being wrongfully arrested and jailed three times for legally challenging corrupt public officials in Washoe County including Commissioners Humke, Weber, and Larkin ~ as well as Washoe Manager Katy Simon, and Deputy D.A. Melanie Foster.)

Guy Felton’s youtube “Nevadagate” series on Nevada Corruption

NEVADAGATE: SUGGESTIONS FOR THE 2013 LEGISLATURE

Nevada government is permeated with a culture of corruption. Members of the state legislature meet for only 4 months every other year. This does not permit anything close to proper administration of the public affairs of Nevada’s 2.7-million residents.  Members of the upcoming 2013 legislative session are asked to answer tough-but-fair questions which might force changes for the better.
Part 2 of at least 3 intended parts
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Published on Nov 7, 2012 by 

Part 1 of at least 3 parts.
Questions are raised on this video regarding Nevada government’s dismal report card grades issued by the State Integrity Investigation, and about Nevada’s Hell-hole prisons Continue reading