Archive for January, 2010

More Details from Sue Lowden’s Q4 Fundraising Numbers

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:14 pm January 31st, 2010

From the Sue Lowden campaign just now:

The campaign reports $497,719.19 cash on hand.

In total, Lowden raised $819,005.44 in the fourth quarter from 7,331 contributions by individuals (3 PACs contributed, as well).

More than half of the money raised by the campaign came from Nevada donors, but the campaign received contributions from individuals in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.

The amount of each contribution ranges from $1 to $4,800 ­ (the maximum an individual can contribute).

Obama Budget: Funding for Yucca Will be Eliminated, License Application Will Be Withdrawn

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:22 pm January 31st, 2010

From a RalstonFlash email alert this morning:

I have obtained the language that will be in President Obama’s budget when it is announced tomorrow, and it is the strongest evidence yet that Yucca Mountain really is dead:

“The Department’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management will be merged into the Office of Nuclear Energy. As part of the merger, funding for the proposed Yucca Mountain project will be eliminated and the Department will take steps to withdraw the license application in the near future. This reflects the Administration’s commitment to pursuing a responsible, long-term strategy through the appointment of a high-level Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.”

(If you want to sign up for the RalstonFlash daily newsletter and breaking news alerts, go here.  Includes an In Business Las Vegas subscrip as a bonus.) A snippet of snark from @SteveSebelius on Twitter as I am typing this:

Now what was that about how Harry Reid doesn’t do anything for NV? No nuke waste traveling x-country and on our streets is something!

Yes, yes it is…something.  I like to call it “championing a Cause rooted in irrational public fear based on ambiguous data on nuclear waste transportation.”

If you were not aware of it, in more than 30 years there has been no harmful release of radiation in more than 2,700 shipments of nuclear waste across the United States. In Europe – particularly France and Britain – nuclear waste has also been shipped for more than 25 years through heavily populated areas without any serious incident.

Anyway, if you care to read up on the pros and cons of Yucca – not that you care, now that it’s really, Really, Truly dead – check out this bibliography.

And if you want a quick run down on Obama’s new commission – The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future – announced Friday, you can read this post. Update (from a RalstonFlash email alert at 8:14 a.m. on 2/1/10):

DOE filed the application to suspend the license today, a source in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office says. Dump application will be withdrawn within 30 days.

Is this the holy grail or is it not quite dead yet?

Update 2 (from Ralston at 9:56 a.m.):

McCain told the Wall Street Journal that it is “an insult to one’s intelligence” to take the dump site “off the table,” along with recycling, if the administration is serious about nuclear power as an option.

More criticism here.

One irresistible side note here:  So Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki was recruited to run for the U.S. Senate by a guy who is anathema to many conservatives and who backs Yucca Mountain (Krolicki, on “Face to Face” last week criticized apparent Lowden backer Bob List for supporting the dump). Better ask for a less toxic patron, Mr. LG.

Ralston’s got that right.  The word I’m getting from various D.C. peeps is that if/when Krolicki announces he is running, there will be a wave of anti-McCain-motivated conservative support for either Tarkanian or Lowden – including the endorsement of Tarkanian by at least one prominent, powerful U.S. Senator.

And:  Erick Erickson, editor of RedState and the current darling of the conservative blogosphere, has already Tweeted his intention to endorse Tarkanian.  (It’s no secret that Erickson is not a fan of McCain.)

Rob Lauer Opts Out of CD-3, In for SOS

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:05 pm January 29th, 2010

Rob Lauer today sent out a press release and tonight talked with me about his switch from the CD-3 primary race against Joe Heck 9 – with the winner to take on Dina Titus in November – to a run for Secretary of State.  A few of his comments:

“With the Scott Brown race in Massachusetts, we saw that one seat can make a difference.”

“This week we saw the move for CD-3 from leaning Democratic to Toss Up; we saw the LVRJ polls…  It became obvious to me that this seat is very winnable, and that we’re seeing a shift in the country.  And I believe that the shift of power in the House could come down to a small number seats.”

“So, I decided… In CD-3, against Joe Heck, it would be an even race, financially speaking, and it would probably be a close race.  And I really do not want to spend my time over the next 5 months trying to rip Joe apart and spending all that money just to see who will get the opportunity to beat Dina Titus, and whatever damage that might do to either of us.”

“I believe the Republicans can and will win Titus’ seat, but ultimately, we need to remember why we are serving, why we are running for office.  Primary in-fighting could cost the Republican party a valuable seat.  It’s a risk I’m not willing to take.”

“Nevada needs a strong business leader in the Secretary of State’s office.  We need someone who understands money and business.  Nevada is suffering an economic meltdown right now.  Leadership is needed.  I’m happy to be that leader.”

Lauer said his website would be updated in the days to come, and that Nevadans could expect to see important proposals regarding changes in the Secretary of State’s organization.

Tarkanian Reports $257,135 Cash On Hand

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:29 pm January 29th, 2010

From the Tarkanian camp a few minutes ago:

Tarkanian for Senate will report:

  • TOTAL RECEIPTS AUG-DEC 31, 2009: $650,329.79
  • CASH ON HAND AS OF 12/31/09: $257,135.77

Wowza.

Brian Krolicki Announces…

By Elizabeth Crum | 4:37 pm January 29th, 2010

…that his candidacy for the U.S. Senate is “yet to be determined” and that he is in the middle of a very intense due diligence process.

This from/on Jon Ralston’s interview program Face to Face.  Other statements excerpted from Ralston’s exclusive interview with Krolicki this afternoon:

“I need to make sure we have the resources.”

“Last year was an incredible excercise. I believe I was politically abducted for the year by the Attorney General in a partisan attack.”

“The groundswell of support is significant.”

When asked if he was already considering a run before being contacted by folks in D.C.:

“I really didn’t. I thought we had put it to rest, and I was looking at reelection. But the phone calls started happening pretty quickly. Hundreds of people on a weekly basis, calling, urging me, giving support…”

“Sue Lowden, a friend of mine, urged me to get in this race a year ago, 6 months ago.”

When asked about potential hard feelings if he jumps in:

“This is politics.  This is not always a game of Nice in the Sandbox.”

When asked if the NRSC was going to remain neutral:

“They will take stance of neutrality.  They got burned several times already this cycle.”

When asked who has encouraged him if not the NRSC:

“There are elements around the NRSC. There are individual U.S. senators… Folks around Nevada.”

When asked if he was really “amused” by Bob List’s comments, including one that Krolicki was/is “disingenuous”:

“I’m terribly… This process is rattling cages in certain areas. I’ve known Bob List for a very long time. I was surprised…”

and

“If he is working on behalf of the Sue Lowden campaign, that is…  Well, I just think she needs to be careful. If Bob List had had his way, we’d have Guiliani as President, and we’d have a nuclear waste dump here…  I think Sue needs to be careful about her spokespeople.”

When pressed on an announcement date:

“I will try to do it as quickly as possible. It will be before March 12.”

And there you have it, Dear Readers.  Krolicki shakes up the news cycle and says he is going to file no later than the filing date.  That’s the kind of hard-and-fast political news you can always find right here on The Blog at the Nevada News Bureau.

Harry Reid Has $8.7M Cash On Hand

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:36 pm January 29th, 2010

From an @RalstonFlash email alert earlier today:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has raised $15 million for his re-election, including $2 million in the last quarter. He has slightly less cash on hand than when he started the quarter because he also spent $2 million-plus in the quarter.

Rasmussen had Reid polling at 40/43% against Tarkanian/Lowden in September.  A couple of weeks ago, Rasmussen had Reid at 36% vs. either of them.  So, Reid spent $2M to slip at least 4 points.  At that rate, the rest of his cash will buy him numbers at around 20%.

(Yes, I’m kidding.  I doubt Reid will slip much below present levels no matter what he does.)

John Ensign’s Q4 2009 Legal Fees: $18,000

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:59 pm January 29th, 2010

Politico has a story on Ensign’s recent legal fees:

Sen. John Ensign’s legal expenses have jumped amid the fallout of his extramarital affair with a former staffer, according to new filings released Friday afternoon.

In the last quarter of 2009, the Nevada Republican dipped into his campaign account to pay nearly $18,000 in legal fees to the firm Fish & Richardson, where he had retained legal counsel. In the prior quarter, covering expenses between July 1 and Sept. 30, Ensign paid the firm just $850 for legal fees.

The disclosure suggests that Ensign could be facing growing scrutiny from federal authorities in the aftermath of his June revelation that he carried on an affair with former campaign aide Cynthia Hampton.

Ensign’s FEC report shows his campaign fundraising at a virtual standstill in the aftermath of the Hampton scandal.   Ensign has not definitively said whether he’ll run for reelection and reported raising just $4,700 in contributions last quarter.

He has just over $1 million in cash in his campaign account.

Hat Tip: e-mail alert from @RalstonFlash

Tarkanian Now Doing Push Polling Against Lowden

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:44 pm January 29th, 2010

Nevada blogger Dullard Mush received a poll call last night and has the scoop.

The Tarkanian-Lowden Primary War has heated up considerably in recent weeks via numerous press attack-and/or-defend press releases from both camps.  If you want to follow the war of words, you can subscribe to Danny Tarkanian’s list here and Sue Lowden’s list here.  If you want to catch up on what has transpired so far, you can read Tarkanian’s past press release’s here and Lowden’s past releases here.

A January 11 Rasmussen telephone survey of likely voters in Nevada found Reid earning just 36% of the vote against either Lowden or Tarkanian.  Reid earned 40% against candidate Sharron Angle.

A January 20 Daily Kos poll had the Tarkanian-Reid numbers at 52-41 and the Lowden-Reid race at 51-42.

U.S. Senate Candidate Sue Lowden Will Report Approximately $500,000 Cash on Hand in 1/31/10 FEC Report

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:38 pm January 29th, 2010

Her campaign manager just confirmed.

In a conference call last week, Lowden’s campaign said she had raised about $800,000 in Q4 — and that she planned to match all Q1 2010 contributions dollar-for-dollar.

Her website is here.

Las Vegas Culinary Union Boss Calls U.S. Supreme Court Decision “Recipe for Disaster”

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:46 pm January 28th, 2010

I wouldn’t normally post on the comments of a local union boss re: a Supreme Court ruling, but I felt creativity points were warranted for working a culinary theme into the criticisms.  Plus, it’s always interesting when Big Labor complains about Big Business, or v/v.  So:

Las Vegas Culinary Union boss D. Taylor today blasted the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of candidates and on political issues, saying it was a “recipe for disaster.”

Taylor, secretary-treasurer of Culinary Workers Union, Local 226, said the ruling gives big corporations the ability to influence elections at the expense of the average person – but that it will not change the way the culinary union handles its election-related activities.  Other statements:

“I think it is bad for Democracy.  I think it is bad for the American public.”

“I think it is absurd to state that a corporation has the same free speech rights as an individual.”

“Because of this ruling, if a legislator proposes a measure that might harm a corporation’s bottom line, that corporation could spend millions to defeat the lawmaker.”

Taylor’s statements were made on Nevada NewsMakers.

I guess he’s in good company because last night, President Obama also blasted the SC decision in his State of the Union speech.

Candidates’ Coffers

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:01 pm January 28th, 2010

I’m keeping tabs on all the partial campaign contribution reports coming in but am waiting to post the numbers until we can see the only one that matters:  Cash On Hand (COH).

(For those of you not up on the latest bookkeeping terminology, that’s funds raised minus funds spent.)

It’s all well and good to crow about all the checks you’ve collected, Dear Candidates, but what you have done with them and what has it gotten you?  There’s no pride in raising gobs of cash if you’ve spent it all and are still polling poorly.  I won’t mention any names.  Yet.

Biggest Campaign Contribute Button Ever

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:41 pm January 28th, 2010

Wow.

Dare I invite you to suggest punch lines in the Comments below…?

(And while we’re talking about Governor Gibbons’ campaign contributions, did you read this?)

Every Option Under Discussion as Governor, Lawmakers Seek Solutions to Massive Budget Shortfall

By Sean Whaley | 2:28 pm January 27th, 2010

(Updated at 2:50 p.m. on Jan. 27, 2010)

CARSON CITY – When budget cuts come to higher education and the public school system to help balance a state spending plan that is $1 billion out of balance, those decisions should be made by the Board of Regents and local school officials, two members of Gov. Jim Gibbons cabinet said today.

Deputy Chief of Staff Stacy Woodbury said proposals to close the Nevada State College at Henderson or implement other program changes at the Nevada System of Higher Education will have to be made by the Board of Regents.

What Gibbons and the Legislature must do is set the reduced level of funding available to higher education and let regents decide how to meet the new financial target, she said.

Deputy Chief of Staff Lynn Hettrick said the state is facing a budget shortfall of nearly $1 billion, and that major cuts in programs will be needed. Suggestions from lawmakers that the dollar amount will equate to a 22 percent cut in programs may be “a bit” high, he said.

“I hope it doesn’t go to 22 percent,” Hettrick said.

Both Woodbury and Hettrick made their comments in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

In a telephone interview, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said legislative fiscal staff are saying the cuts required are in the $900 million range, and that if cuts were implemented with a March 1 start date, the effect would be a 22 percent cut. That is not to say cuts of 22 percent will be implemented, but it shows the severity of the problem, she said.

In what she called a collegial meeting between lawmakers and Gibbons on Tuesday, there were preliminary efforts to reach consensus on what cuts could be made, Buckley said. There are few alternatives to cuts available, but “sweeping” every bank account in state government could potentially bring some relief. If $100 million could be identified in this process, it would help reduce the level of cuts required, she said.

Buckley called the state’s predicament, “unbelievably dire.”

Both Woodbury and Hettrick said during the interview that Gibbons also wants to give local school boards and parents the ability to decide how to implement any cuts that will have to be made to the public school system.

Gibbons has proposed eliminating a state mandate for all-day kindergarten and class-size reduction in the lower elementary grades so that school districts can decide which programs to fund, Woodbury said.

Hettrick said eliminating the mandates would empower the local school districts.

Woodbury also said Gibbons is not at this point proposing to shift the cost of any state programs to local governments, or seek additional funding for the state budget shortfall from counties and cities.

“They can’t bear it any more than we can,” Woodbury said.

Gibbons has proposed eliminating the requirement for collective bargaining between local governments and school districts and their employees to give them more flexibility in dealing with salaries and their own budget issues, she said.

Woodbury said the state must also consider opting out of federally mandated programs, including Medicaid. The program as it now exists is unsustainable whether new recipients are added to the rolls under a national health care insurance bill or not, she said.

Despite concerns about the sustainability of the Medicaid program, Gibbons later today issued a news release saying he does not believe now is an appropriate time to opt out of Medicaid.

Even so, Gibbons encouraged legislators and the state’s Congressional delegation to consider the fact that Nevada cannot afford to continue increasing its Medicaid spending at the current rate of growth.

“The average growth in general fund Medicaid spending over the past decade is close to 10 percent,” Gibbons said. “Our ever-growing Medicaid burden undercuts our ability to fund other state responsibilities and is crowding out education, public safety and infrastructure as components of our budget.”

The prime driver of Nevada’s Medicaid spending growth is caseload. While an average of 96,000 Nevadans per month received Medicaid in Fiscal Year 2000, that number jumped almost 250 percent to 238,891 Nevadans receiving Medicaid in December 2009. 

Hettrick said Gibbons also wants to minimize layoffs, since those employees would tap into the already severely strained unemployment compensation program.

Buckley said talk of layoffs at this point is premature.

Sandoval Calls Rory Reid’s Lack of Budget Plan “Unacceptable”

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:26 pm January 27th, 2010

From a Sandoval campaign press release that hit my Inbox 20 minutes ago (headlined:  Sandoval: Reid Abandons Nevada):

As Nevada faces the most devastating budget crisis in state history, Democrat Gubernatorial candidate and Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid yesterday refused to explain how he would address the immediate shortfall when asked by the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board.

“It is unacceptable that a candidate seeking the most important office in this state would not offer a plan, or even a single idea, to deal with our current fiscal crisis,” Sandoval said. “Rory Reid either doesn’t have the courage to make tough decisions, doesn’t want to admit his real plan is to raise taxes — or both.”

The release comes on the heels of this story in the RGJ which opened with Rory declining to step up and offer up a plan:

Saying the state’s leaders must move away from “short-term thinking,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid said Tuesday he won’t join his opponents in offering solutions to Nevada’s $1 billion shortfall.

“The next governor will be elected based on his visions for the future and his ability deliver on that vision,” Reid told the Reno Gazette-Journal editorial board. “So I want to focus on that, rather than guess at ways to solve the budget shortfall as my opponents have done.”

Reid promised to release a budget plan for the next biennium. But, other than saying he would protect education, he refused to explain how he would address the immediate shortfall.

Stand by; there are sure to be more words from both camps.

Update:  Anjeanette Damon at the RGJ has the full story including some remarks from the Gibbons camp.

Titus: “Reid is gone; he is going to lose”

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:13 am January 27th, 2010

From a RalstonFlash e-alert at 6:04 a.m. this morning:

POLITICO has three sources who heard the Nevada Democrat say that about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in a meeting with the House speaker last week. In a response that those who have known Titus will not be surprised to read, she told POLITICO she did not single out Reid — despite the three eyewitness accounts — but acknowledged saying Democrats would be “f—-ed” if they didn’t heed the lessons of Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts. (Knowing Titus, I can hear her saying both things.)

Historical reminder: Titus has never forgotten that soon after she evinced an interest in an open County Commission seat a few cycles back, Reid’s son, Rory, popped up as a contender. She receded but blamed the senator for blocking her way. Ironically, Reid the Elder had told his son not to run, arguing the commission is a political boneyard. Rory Reid is now the Democratic anointee for governor.

The [Politico] piece explores internal Democratic tensions and also raises the possibility of fraying between Reid and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, threads of which have been previously reported. Is anyone surprised by these recriminations or that Titus would have expressed them in her salty way?

Not I.  (Not that my opinion – nor yours, Dear Reader – is/are needed, what with three witnesses to Titus’ remarks.)  Could be this was just Dina being Dina.  Or could be she’s feeling the heat.

Update:  Titus sent the following statement to Ralston, after he Flashed the Politico piece:

“No one has done more for Nevada than Harry Reid. He fights everyday to create jobs, stop foreclosures, and turn our economy around. He has been a champion for Nevada’s families, and I am confident that he will be reelected because of it.”

Uh huh.

Update 2:  The LV Sun has a follow up story.  Here’s what she now says she said:

“I said, ‘If we don’t get the message, we’re (expletive),” Titus said Wednesday. “I said, ‘That’s everybody. Half of us in this room could be gone. You could lose the majority. Harry Reid could lose. The president may not get a second term unless we get a handle on this.’ That’s what I said.”

We’ll see what the fallout from all this will be in terms of the Titus-Reid relationship later this year, but the congresswoman apparently earned herself at least one fan:

“Dina didn’t say anything that all of us weren’t thinking,” said Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly, president of the freshman class. Connolly called her a “gutsy lady.”