Posts Tagged ‘candidates’

Assembly Leadership Says Reforms to Campaign Finance Reporting Will Wait

By Sean Whaley | 4:26 pm September 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – While Secretary of State Ross Miller has announced he will voluntarily post his campaign contribution and expense report early so voters can review the information prior to casting their ballots in the Nov. 2 general election, other candidates are not ready to follow suit.

Both Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera and Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said there are too many issues involved for them to recommend to their caucuses and candidates to file the reports in mid-October before early voting begins.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said changes to the reporting process need to be thoroughly considered by the 2011 Legislature before they can be implemented.

“I have a lot of questions,” he said. “We need to take a long hard look at the total ramifications of any changes.”

Goicoechea said there is a lot at stake for both parties in the legislative elections in November, with Assembly Republicans looking to increase their number to take away a veto-proof 28-seat majority now held by Democrats.

A problem with early reporting of contributions is that the opposing party would see which races a caucus was focusing on, he said.

“We have to show not only where the contributions come from, but where we’re spending the money,” Goicoechea said. “It makes it difficult.”

In an email response to a question about whether Assembly Democrats would follow Miller’s example and post their reports early, Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said any reforms to the filing of campaign contribution and expense reports must be uniformly applied to everyone. In addition, many of the Democrat candidates running for Assembly seats in the November general election do not have the staff or financing to prepare such reports ahead of time, he said.

“Of the 42 Democratic candidates for state Assembly, many have submitted handwritten reports because they don’t have the staff or financing to prepare accurate reports at a moment’s notice during the busiest time in their campaign,” Oceguera said.

Miller has requested legislation to move up the reporting dates for the contribution and expense reports, saying they don’t come out now until early voting is well under way. Miller also wants reports filed electronically so they can be easily searched by the public.

So 21 days before the Nov. 2 general election, Miller said he will electronically file his campaign contribution and expenditure report online for the public to review. In keeping with his proposed legislation, Miller will also file a report four days before the general election detailing any contributions received by his campaign in excess of $1,000 after the initial report filing.

Oceguera has proposed an alternative for consideration by the 2011 Legislature which would require reporting of contributions within 72 hours of receipt.

“I believe my proposal of switching over to online filing of contributions and expenditures within 72 hours gives even more transparency, and all filings are automatically searchable,” he said. “With my proposal we accomplish both goals at once and the rules apply to everyone.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, did not respond to a request for comment.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he has not asked his caucus members who are running for re-election in this cycle about voluntarily reporting contributions and expenditures ahead of the deadline. Raggio is in the middle of his term and is not up for re-election this year.

Raggio said he has no problem with earlier reporting as long as the process does not become a trap for candidates who might forget and miss a deadline by one day. But he said any reporting changes should apply to everyone, including political action committees that spend money on behalf of candidates or on issues.

“There is no harm in doing it, but I think the information is of more interest to the media than the public,” Raggio said.

Dozens of Nevada Candidates Respond Favorably To Transparency Query, Many More Have Yet To Reply

By Sean Whaley | 5:05 am September 9th, 2010

CARSON CITY – More than 60 candidates for legislative and statewide public office have responded to a questionnaire seeking their views on several key government transparency issues.

The results have been posted on TransparentNevada, a website operated by the Nevada Policy Research Institute. The questions include whether candidates support giving lawmakers and the public three days to read bills before a vote and if candidates support a searchable database of campaign contribution and expense reports.

The responses have come from across the political spectrum, including seven Democrats, 35 Republicans, and 20 minor party and independent candidates running for offices from governor to the state Assembly.

“It really is fundamental, I think, to democratic government that we the people have a right to know how our elected representatives are conducting business and what they are doing with public money,” said Andy Matthews, vice president for operations and communications for NPRI.

“It’s a good sign first of all that more than 60 candidates now have completed the questionnaire – and even more encouraging is that those who have completed the questionnaire are overwhelmingly indicating that they support these transparency measures, I think for just about every question,” he said.

But nearly 100 candidates, including the two leading party candidates for governor, have not yet responded to the questionnaire.

Matthews said candidates are being encouraged to respond. The website will be updated as responses are received through Election Day, he said.

The questionnaire also asks if candidates support putting details of Nevada state government spending online for public review, if they support open meetings for public employee union negotiations and if they support subjecting the Legislature to the state open meeting law.

The final question asks legislative candidates if they would be willing to sponsor legislation on any of the issues.

Some candidates who have not yet responded have indicated support for at least some of the proposals in the questionnaire.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, has requested a bill draft to require a three-day waiting period before lawmakers can vote on bills.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, yesterday announced support for putting the state’s checkbook on line along with several other reforms, including a requirement for all candidates for public office to report every financial contribution, the amount and donor online within 72 hours of receipt.

“Today, we are putting a series of reforms before the public,” Oceguera said. “They are common sense and timely measures, and I will work for bipartisan support in both the Assembly and Senate.”

Secretary of State Ross Miller has requested legislation that would create an online searchable database of candidate contribution and expenditure reports. He pushed for similar legislation in 2009.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, who is running for the Washoe Senate 1 seat, said she supports transparency in government but is not responding to the survey because of her view that the NPRI has a clear political bias and a response would give the group undeserved credibility.

“I’m accountable to the voters, I’m not accountable to a conservative think tank,” she said. “It gives them a credibility that I don’t think they deserve. But I’m happy to respond directly to my constituents and certainly do support transparency in government.”

Asked if he is disappointed that neither Democrat Rory Reid nor Republican Brian Sandoval has yet responded, Matthews said it is the voters who should be concerned.

“Anytime you’ve got somebody who is seeking the highest office in the state, and you’ve got an issue like government transparency, which is so important especially in light of all the economic challenges we’re facing today, it’s important that they go on the record and tell voters where they stand,” he said.

The Sandoval campaign said today they will not be filling out the questionnaire. The Reid camp did not immediately respond to a question about whether they will fill it out.

Matthews said he expects that more candidates will respond as Election Day draws near.

___

Audio clips:

Andy Matthews of NPRI says transparency is important for the democratic process:

090810Matthews1 :11 with public money.”

Matthews says those responding so far strongly favor transparency issues:

090810Matthews2 :20 about every question.”

Matthews says voters should question those candidates who do not respond:

090810Matthews3 :20 where they stand.”

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie says she did not reply because group has conservative bias:

090810Leslie1 :22 conservative think tank.”

Leslie says she supports transparency, but answers to her constituents:

090810Leslie2 :24 transparency in government.”

Keystone Corp Hands Out Checks to Endorsed Candidates

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:04 am May 6th, 2010

In a political and economic year that poses an extra measure of challenge for candidates in their fundraising efforts, endorsements and checks from groups like Keystone Corporation — which, unlike many advocacy organizations, both endorses and financially supports candidates in primary races — can offer a real boost.  Keystone yesterday handed out checks to the following GOP candidates:

AD 2 — incumbent John Hambrick — www.hambrick4assembly.com

AD 4 — Richard McArthur — www.mcarthur4nevada.com

AD 5 — Tibi Ellis – www.tibiellis.com

AD 10 — Tyler Andrews – www.andrewsforassembly.com

AD 13 — Josh Gust – www.gustfornevada.com

AD 20 — Crescent Hardy

AD 21 — Mark Sherwood – www.votesherwood.com

AD 22 — incumbent Lynn D. Stewart

AD 23 — incumbent Melissa Woodbury – www.melissawoodbury.com

AD 29 — Dan Hill — www.danfornv.com

AD 31 — Randi Thompson — www.randithompson.com

AD 32 — Jodi Stephens – www.jodistephens.com

AD 35 — incumbent Pete Goicoechea

AD 36 — incumbent Ed Goedhart — www.edgoedhart.com

AD 38 — incumbent Tom Grady — www.tomgrady4nevada.com

AD 39 — Kelly Kite

AD 40 — Pete Livermore – www.pete4assembly.com

SD 9 — Elizabeth Halseth — www.elizabethhalseth.com

According to their website, Keystone Corporation is a statewide political action organization that recruits, supports and advocates for candidates for public office who support private sector job creation, low taxation, a responsible regulatory environment, and effective delivery of essential state services.

Sec of State Lists One Candidate Challenge, Four Withdrawals and a Pending Petition

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:30 pm March 30th, 2010

The Nevada Secretary of State said his office received one challenge to a candidacy prior to the March 29 deadline. Mark E. Hunt of Lyon County filed documents on March 23 challenging State Board of Education District 10 candidate Gordon Cornell’s qualifications, claiming Cornell doesn’t live in District 10. (Hunt also withdrew his own candidacy for the seat.)  The challenge will be turned over to the Attorney General’s office for resolution.

The Secretary of State also confirmed his office is a co-defendant in a petition filed by Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano who is seeking to disqualify Scott Ashjian from running for the U.S. Senate as a “Tea Party of Nevada” candidate. A hearing is scheduled in the First Judicial Court in Carson City on April 14.

Four candidates who had filed with the Secretary of State’s office formally withdrew their candidacy prior to the March 23 deadline. Republican Sherry Brooks of Reno and Democrat Roy A. Woofter of Las Vegas both withdrew from the race for U.S. Senate.  Twelve Republicans and four Democrats now remain in that primary race. One Independent American Party candidate and four Non-Partisan candidates will appear on the general election ballot. And, of course, the courts will determine whether Tea Party of Nevada candidate Ashjian is on the general election ballot.

In other races, Democrat Robert Potter of Carson City withdrew from the state legislative race in the Capital Senatorial District and Mark E. Hunt of Dayton withdrew from the race for the non-partisan State Board of Education District 10 seat.

Cox “On Demand” Offers Free Air Time to All Candidates

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:43 pm March 29th, 2010

According to a press release this morning, Cox-Las Vegas (via Channel 1 “On Demand”) is inviting all candidates for elected office to go in and tape a 2-minute video for playback on their On Demand system:

CONTACT

Steve Schorr, VP — (702) 545-1002 — steve.schorr@cox.com

COX Las Vegas Gives Candidates for Elected Office Free Air Time to Outline Platform and Connect Directly with Voters

LAS VEGAS – Cox Communications-Las Vegas is once again providing candidates for local, state and federal elected office free air time through its popular “Elections On Demand” initiative via Cox Channel 1 On DEMAND. The company’s election year initiative allows candidates to tape a two-minute “candidate vignette” in a special TV studio for playback via the Cox On DEMAND system. The initiative allows Cox digital cable viewers to more objectively educate themselves about candidates running in the June 8 primary election.

Cox Las Vegas has invited over 400 candidates who have filed for local, state and federal office in Clark County to participate in the company’s “Elections 2010” program. Each candidate is allowed a two-minute, pre-prepared candidate script at the company’s Cox Media television studio in Las Vegas. The scripts are written by the candidates themselves and must not contain any negativity or mudslinging directed at any other candidate. Scripts will be pre-screened and approved. No video editing of the candidate vignette is allowed; each candidate simply selects the best of three takes to be uploaded to the On DEMAND platform. There is no cost whatsoever for candidates to participate.

On Monday, April 19, all of the two-minute, candidate vignettes will be made available to Cox digital cable customers via the On DEMAND platform on Cox Channel 1. The vignettes can be activated using the Cox remote control on Cox Channel 1 à Freezone à Elections 2010.

“With so many choices this election cycle, it’s critical for candidates to connect with voters and for voters to have a better understanding of their candidates,” said Steve Schorr, vice president of public and government affairs at Cox Las Vegas. “Voters all too often vote by name. With Elections On DEMAND, our digital cable customers will have an opportunity to associate a name with a candidate’s specific platform thereby creating a more objective decision-making process based on side-by-side comparisons of each candidate’s platform.” Schorr went on to say “with the large number of candidates on the primary ballot we saw a reason to do this for the first time ever in Primary election.”

Elections 2010 is being provided as a community service to Cox digital cable customers by Cox’s News and Public Affairs department and is being produced entirely by Cox Communications without any cost to the candidates. Elections 2010 On DEMAND category will run from April 19 and Primary Election day in June. Cox Las Vegas notified all candidates who filed with the Clark County Registrar of Voters about the opportunity to participate in Elections 2010.

I assume their On Demand stats can be (and are) tracked.  Seems like a worthwhile endeavor and/but I’ll be very curious to see how many downloads/views they get.

Harry Reid’s Democrat Challenger to Speak at Searchlight Tea Party Showdown

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:14 pm March 24th, 2010

Well, this is an interesting development in the Searchlight Showdown saga:

Ed Hamilton, who bills himself as a conservative Democrat running against Harry Reid in the US Senate primary, is slated to speak at the candidates’ forum at the Tea Party rally in Searchlight this Saturday.

(So confirms Tea Party activist Debbie Landis who is organizing that part of event.)

Hamilton says he is the voters’ “early opportunity” to unseat Reid:  “why wait until the November general election when Nevada voters could RETIRE REID starting with early voting in May”…?

What to make of this Wonderland in which Tea Party of Nevada candidate Jon Scott Ashjian is banned from the podium, but a registered Democrat is not…?

Curiouser and curiouser!

Searchlight Tea Party Update & Schedule

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:17 am March 14th, 2010

Quite a few of you — including media types who are trying to figure out where to be, and when, to cover the event — have said you appreciated the info in my earlier post about Searchlight Tea Party logistics, so here are some quick updates and a schedule:

9:30-10:00 AM – Apparently, the Tea Party Express (TPE) will actually be starting their day down in Laughlin.  Everyone who wishes to join the TPE tour delegation is instructed to meet up in the parking lot of Harrah’s at 9:30 AM where there will be a brief news conference/mini-rally.  The TPE buses will then pull out and lead the caravan of vehicles up to the location in Searchlight.

10:30 AM-12 PM – A candidate’s forum hosted by “Anger is Brewing” will be going on at the Searchlight rally location.  Grassroots activist Debbie Landis organized this part of the event and has asked that some folks skip going down to Laughlin first and instead show up in Searchlight early (especially if you want a good seat for the day).

12:00 Noon – Tea Party Express’s “Showdown in Searchlight” rally.  Speakers (and US Senate candidates) will speak.  TPE buses will leave for Henderson after the rally is over.  Estimates are that the rally may last from 2 to 3-ish hours.  Hard to say with all those speakers…  (My advice:  Show up early.  Take folding chairs.  And plenty of water.  But don’t drink too much of it because there will only be so many porta-potties to go around and you may have to wait in line.)

4:00 PM – Grassroots Nevada event with Ann Coulter at Henderson Pavillion.  Gates will open at 3:30.  Tickets are needed (general admission is free and VIPs are not).

5:00 PM – Tea Party Express rally at Henderson Pavillion

TPE is still working to organize charter buses from a variety of places throughout Nevada and the Southwest U.S. to get people to Searchlight on March 27th. Anyone interested in trying to get a seat on a bus heading to Searchlight can email the TPE folks at:  CharterBus.tpx@gmail.comand

And:  I’m hearing there will be TV ads running soon in NV, Cali and AZ.

And:  TPE and NV grassroots leaders tell me that whoever is spreading the rumor that there will be 300,000 people at the rally in Searchlight should really stop being so silly.  Sounds like they will all be pretty happy if the head count is 5,000 to 10,000, although they think it is possible there may be (and they will be pleased with) more.

(Hey Searchlight:  Ya ready?!)

Update: Here’s a pic of what the Tea Party Express buses will look like:

Very fancy!

Final List of Candidates for 2010

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:51 am March 14th, 2010

The Secretary of State’s website has the complete list of candidates posted.

Candidate Filings: Final Day!!

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:08 pm March 12th, 2010

9:30 AM:

Ira Hansen – Assembly District #32 (R)

10:30 AM:

Gordon Cornell – State Board of Education, District 10 (NP)

3:00 PM:

Brian Nadell – US Senate (R) (Filed in Las Vegas)

Janet Murphy – Assembly Dist. #39 (R)

Garn Maybe – US Senate (R) (Filed in Las Vegas)

Dennis C. Gomez – Assembly Dist. #38 (IAP)

Barbara Smallwood – Assembly Dist. #39 (R)

Michael McFarlane – Assembly Dist. #33 (D)

Kevin R. Ranft – Capital Senate Dist. #17 (D)

3:15 PM:

Nancy Price – U.S. Representative in Congress, District 2 (D)

Candidate Filings: Week Two, Day Four

By Elizabeth Crum | 11:28 am March 11th, 2010

2:00 PM:

Jim Gibbons (R) – Governor

Todd “Taxpayer” Bailey (R) – Nevada Senate District 4

Lynda Upton (R) – Assembly District #40

Gary Bernstein (R) – U.S. Senate

3:25 PM:

Cliff Ferry – State Board of Education, District 10
Non-Partisan office

Warren Markowitz (IAP) – State Controller (filed in LV)

John Chachas (R) – U.S. Senate (filed in LV)

5:00 PM:

Ed Goedhart (R) – Assembly District #36

Stephen G. Yeater (R) – State Senate Capitol District

Mark E. Hunt – State Board of Education, District 10
Non-Partisan seat

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.

Exclusive Interview with John Chachas, Candidate for US Senate from Nevada

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:06 am January 11th, 2010

LAS VEGAS – In an exclusive interview with the Nevada News Bureau, Republican senatorial candidate and investment banker John Chachas sat down and talked about his campaign, his family and his concerns about Nevada and the nation.

NNB:  So, when, where and how will your campaign begin in earnest?

CHACHAS:  I don’t think we’ve decided on a location for an announcement, but by the end of January, in the next few weeks, we will be very actively engaged and our website will be updated.

NNB: You lent your campaign a million dollars last quarter; how much more have you raised since then?  What is your campaign balance sheet going to show on January 15?

CHACHAS:  I lent my campaign a little more than a million last quarter, yes.  Michael Toner, our FEC lawyer, would say, I can’t tell you what that number is right now because I would be violating a rule.  But I can say that we will show considerably more money raised externally and some more personal money put into the campaign as well.

NNB:  And what is the ratio of in-state vs. out of state funds raised right now, can you tell me that?

CHACHAS: I think in-state funds are probably still about the same as Harry Reid’s, below five percent of the total.  Ninety-five percent of the money I’ve raised so far has been out of state, so it’s a small amount that’s from inside the state.  But then, I haven’t been here to do that.  I’ve been here getting to know people, not running around asking for money.

NNB:  And is the roof fixed on the house in Ely?  When will you be moving to Nevada?

CHACHAS:  It’s fixed; the yard is being put back in order; I’m making the transition now.  I was there ten days ago making sure it was all in good order.  I’m going back up there in another week for the Lincoln Day breakfast, and then I’ll also be looking around for a place down here because I seem to be coming in and out of Vegas an awful lot.  So I’ll need a place here and then also in Reno.  And Ely…well, if we could just get the airport fixed so I can get in there.  Unfortunately, you can fly to Elko from here; you can fly to Reno from here; but you can’t fly to Ely from here.  It was only eight below, though, (laughs) as I drove across the salt flats when I went there last; I drove across from Utah the last time I was there, because my parents were in Salt Lake City.

NNB:  Tell me about your family in Ely.  I read a story in the Ely Times the other day that mentioned former mayor George Chachas; I assume he is a relative of yours?

CHACHAS:  I’m related to every Chachas up there.  George is my second cousin.  George’s father and my father are first cousins.  He has a brother named John, who is a county commissioner.  He has a brother named Jim, who is here in Las Vegas, and a sister named Betsy who is also here in Vegas, so they’re all second cousins.  I have a group of first cousins who are also up in the Ely area, two also named John, so there are three Johns:  John T, John A, and John G; I’m the John G.

NNB:  So your family has been in Nevada for how long?  Give me a quick family history.

CHACHAS:  My grandfather and his brothers emigrated from Greece in the 1930s and ended up in Nevada in the late 30s/early 40s.  My grandfather, whose name is John, bought and ran a large fenced cattle ranch in northern Nevada in the early 1940s.  He owned the ranch for about 40 years until 1982 when the family – for a variety of reasons that had to do with the economic crisis of the late 80s – sold the ranch.  He had four sons and a daughter, now deceased.  My father and one of the other boys are still alive; the others have passed away.

So, yes, they ran a family ranch in White Pine County.  My grandfather was, I have to say, one of these stories about self-made men who come from nothing.  He really did come from nothing and by the time he had died, he owned a hotel in Ely; he put up the first General Motors/Cadillac car dealership in White Pine County; he owned the ranch; he owned a small shopping mall with the main grocery store in town; and he owned a small casino.  He was a really productive, entrepreneurial guy who came to America not speaking the language.  He put his eldest son through Harvard; he put his next son through Stanford; all three of his children went to professional school – his daughter, who died, he’d sent away for the best education he could get for her at the Bishop School in San Diego – so he was quite a man.

NNB:  So, did you always think you’d end up back in Nevada at some point?

CHACHAS:  Absolutely.  I love the West.  I think the West is a remarkable part of the country.  It’s sort of indelible, I think, once you grow up with all this space.  I had the good fortune of growing up on a ranch here with all that space.  I had a horse there, and a horse in town; there was something magical about it.  Even to this day, when I come spend time in the mountains, I just think it’s such a great place.

You know, living in the east has been an interesting run, and it’s been a great career run for me.  I got a great education, and frankly, a better window on the American economy and how business is done than I could have gotten even here in Las Vegas.  There is industry here, but this is a town that is highly dominated by one industry, which is the leisure industry.  I’ve had the benefit of a career of working with both large and small companies of all sorts in all corners of the country, and you don’t get that everywhere.  So, it’s been… I don’t want to make light of the fact that I’ve had a great education and a great business education working in industry this way.  But, everybody has different chapters of their lives, and I knew there would be some time in my life when I would want to be back in the West.

NNB:  And what would you say to those who say you are not really a Nevadan, that you are essentially a “carpetbagger” and back in Nevada for one reason – this senatorial race – and that you’ll be gone just as quickly if you don’t win?

CHACHAS:  I don’t think that’s fair.  I grew up here.  I have family here.  I want to be here.  And I have a small mining project in Ely, which didn’t make a lot of sense when gold was $500 per ounce.  But with gold at $1,100 an ounce, suddenly our little mine makes quite a lot of sense.

NNB:  You’re the sole owner?

CHACHAS:  It’s family owned; it’s in Ely.

NNB:  The name?

CHACHAS:  It’s a little mine called The Ballpark, and it’s 680 tons of gold and silver.  But it has to be extracted from the mountain, and it has to be crushed and milled. And it’s never made any sense before, but thankfully Washington DC is doing a great job of sending precious metal prices up into the stratosphere, so it’s now quite valuable. So, my brothers and I are going to spend quite a lot of time focused on that, and there are others, like that.

I mean, I don’t know how to convince someone… I’m very interested in this race and in being back home.  Do know where I will be five minutes after I win or lose?  No, I don’t really know.

One of the hardest dilemmas of all has been considering my small children in all of this. If I’m doing the business of the state and living in Washington, my kids – I have little kids – are going to be with me.  And some people might say, “Oh, well, he’s not even going to be here.  His kids won’t be going to Gorman, or his kids aren’t going to be in whatever local school.” Well, I’m sorry, but what you see is what you get.

I am a dad, who in my time in New York, for example – when a lot of people who when they have kids move out to the hinterlands and Dad commutes in on the train, which means they are essentially weekend dads, they are gone first thing in the morning and don’t get home until after their children are asleep – well, I deliberately made a decision to own a home in Manhattan so I could drive my kids to school three or four days a week, which I do, and so I could go to every event that they have, which I do.  That’s how I would want to continue to raise them, because they’re gone soon enough.

NNB:  Their ages?

CHACHAS:  My daughter, Annie, is thirteen.  My middle son Christopher is 11 and in the 5th grade.  My littlest one is John Jr., but we call him Jack; he is 8 and in the 2nd grade.

NNB:  So, the primaries…

CHACHAS:  Yes we only have, what, eight or nine people so far?

NNB:  Can we expect you to participate in some primary debates?

CHACHAS:  Listen, I am SO looking forward to a debate.  I find this political process so amazing at times, that people are making choices about putting candidates in office without knowing what those people really bring to the table and what they really think, due to all this, sort of, labeling and the dissemination of sound bytes, and no real, specific dialogue about problems.  So, you set it up, and I’ll show.   You pick the date, time, place, topic, and I will be there.  I wish someone would do it soon.

NNB:  So, on the subject of specifics and policy, when the new John Chachas website launches later this month, what will we see?

CHACHAS:  On our site now, there are four policy pieces that are up.  One on the economy; one on health care; one on Iran, Afghanistan and the Middle East; and one on energy.  And there’s another policy issue I’m working on which is financial services industry reform, a hot button issue of the political class right now.  I have written an editorial piece on it, which I am going to put out to the press soon.  It’s the first of three pieces on an economic recovery plan for Nevada, an actual plan focused on how do we actually fix the problem here.

I’ll tell you this, though, I’ve got more policy proposals up on my website right now than the other candidates combined.  None of them have said an original word other than rehashing what the NRSC already publishes on this stuff.  So what?  So, yes, I have four policy proposals up, and I’ll have a fifth.  And I’ll have a piece on what I would do about jobs.

NNB:  And speaking of the NRSC, I assume you’ve met with them once or twice?

CHACHAS:  (Laughs) Oh, I’ve met with the NRSC plenty of times.  I’ve met with Senator Cornyn three times.  I’ve met with Rob Jesmer four or five times.  I’ve talked to them on many occasions, so the NRSC is well aware of my candidacy. And they’ve also heard about me from twenty of their largest donors who have given me money.  So, I think they are paying close attention.  They are well aware of me as a candidate and who has given me money as a candidate. I’m got a long list of people who have all given the NRSC $25,000 to $40,000 and who have all also written checks to me. I’ve spent a lot of time talking with the more well-heeled Republican donors who define races, and I’ve received a great deal of encouragement to run.  And I’m trying to make sure that I win.  It’s as simple as that.  Look, I’m gainfully employed now; I have a nice life; I want to make sure all the pieces are in place both from a money and team perspective.  I want to get out there and win.

NNB:  So, once the campaign kicks off in earnest, how are you going to approach the rural, conservative voters, many of whom are the aforementioned skeptics about the fact that John Chachas is not “really” from Nevada?

CHACHAS:  The rurals, you go spend time in.  You get in your little truck…

NNB:  Do you have a little truck?

CHACHAS:  Well, I was on the web last night, and I’ve got it narrowed down to a tan Chevy Suburban – used, because I’m really cheap – and the problem is that I kind of want one that I don’t have to take to a General Motors dealership because now that the government owns GM, they will soon be out of business – so I may have to buy a Lincoln Navigator or something.  So, yes, you have to spend time.  You have to go to the Rotary lunch, and the Elks lodge, and speak at the school, and just spend time with people.  And I’m going to spend a whole bunch of time in Ely, and in Elko and Fallon and Winnemucca and Goldfield; there’s just no other way to do it.

NNB:  So, on the social issues, which have come up a little bit in the primary already because Sue Lowden came under fire for past abortion positions and votes vs. present – and perhaps she’s an easier target because she’s been in office and has a record to actually look at, as opposed to many of the other GOP candidates, which could be said about you as well – so, then, where do you stand on social issues, starting with abortion, and what do you think about this “Personhood Initiative” that is before the courts here in Nevada?

CHACHAS:  First of all, I am not going to comment on a pending initiative like that.  When it gets to be an issue that is actually a matter of law, I’ll comment on it then.  Let’s see whether it actually has any legal standing first.  Nobody is in favor of abortion as a policy matter, and neither am I.  I think that there will be great discussion in this country for a long time about this very personal matter, and I think all the restrictions that are here in Nevada are appropriate.  There are credible reasons for exceptions, naturally.  There are very real reasons for restrictions.  No federal funding, no loopholes for federal funding, restraints that when women are under the age of adulthood, they have to inform their parents.  I believe those things are deeply appropriate, and should stay as part of law.  I don’t like it theologically.  I am an Orthodox Christian; I don’t believe it is a moral or good thing.  But I don’t think this race is going to be defined by these issues.

NNB:  But it is a polarizing issue -

I know that every time we talk about abortion, we divide people both in and out of the Party.  Fortunately, when we talk about growing the economy and ways to create jobs, we can unite people and bring them one step closer to the representation that they deserve.  And in fact, that is key, in an economy where I think Nevada will be the last to come out of this recession, and last by a long way.  It could be several years of real malaise, bad economic performance.

NNB:  Because?

CHACHAS:  We have an economy in Nevada that is so tightly correlated to the consumer, and so tightly correlated to one industry, which is leisure.  We’re economically driven by corporate conferences from Sunday to Wednesday and then people who come for entertainment value Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Corporations have dialed their spending back wildly; all you have to do is look at CES this week.  It’s the largest single corporate event in the country every year; what’s it down by, 100,000 people?

Now, is it a big successful event?  Of course it is.  The town feels busy.  But it’s nowhere compared to what it was, so your very best week is miles away from what it was two years ago, and entire conferences have been canceled.  There are lots of events that people are not going to anymore.  The National Association of Broadcasters, which I’ve come to for 22 years in this town, I can’t tell you the number of broadcasters I’ve spoken to who aren’t sending anyone come this April; you are just not allowed to go.

So you have this backdrop from a corporate perspective that basically, unlike the federal government – run in part by Senator Reid – has ratcheted down what they are allowed to spend, all the Travel & Entertainment, and even important events and conferences in Las Vegas are dramatically downsized from where they used to be.  And that’s the good part of the business model…

The bad part of our business model, which is the consumer, is a catastrophe.  The average person in the country went from – I go to the aggregate numbers here, I can get you the per capita – in 1997, this country had 6.2 trillion dollars of household debt, that is, mortgages plus credit card debt, and that was about 78% of GDP.  In 2007, a decade later, it was 14.3 trillion dollars or 107% of GDP.  And by the end of 2008, that number was up another trillion.  So we’re a country, and a state, that is debt laden and the consumer was sitting here trying to figure out – you know, it’s Christmas – how they were going to spend what they spent before, and then, they didn’t.  They spent and are spending markedly less than they did before.  And they aren’t going to pick up and come to Vegas for a 3-day trip, either.  It’s not happening.  And we don’t have another industry here.

NNB:  Well, just to switch gears to talk about another industry and Nevada’s tax base for a moment, since you’ll be a tax paying resident here and also own a gold mine, and since there are ongoing discussions both about taxing the mining industry and about how to attract industries that could help provide sustainable tax revenues for the state…

CHACHAS:  Mining is an important industry, but it’s not an industry that generates 80% of your state GDP.  Mining is important, but everything is dwarfed compared to the leisure and casino industry in Nevada.  So, start there.  75% of what happens in this state in terms of GDP – I think that’s probably close to the right number – is connected in some way to the leisure/hotel/casino industry.  And that can’t come back until corporates feel better; it can’t come back until the general economy comes back.  So, as long as the general economy is struggling and the consumer is debt laden, I think Vegas has a long, long time to go before we come out of this.

NNB: So what policies can make the recovery wait time shorter?

CHACHAS:  Part of the reason I wrote that op-ed piece I told you about, and how I think about changing things, is that the solution is really a four or five year plan.  You basically have to really focus on economic incentives and motives to generate more and bigger industry apart from the casino and leisure industry.  Because we have no control, really, frankly, over the national landscape that’s going to change how the American consumer feels.  And I do not see a scintilla of evidence coming out of Washington DC that there’s any policy discussion of how to make it easier for people to pay down debt, get out from under debt.

Some of it is happening organically. I mean, we’ve seen two and half trillion dollars of national consumer debt paid down in the last year.  People have been scared out of their pants, and so they’ve been ratcheting it down, putting their credit cards in a drawer, and so we’ll eventually get to some point where it starts to turn up again, but it’s a long way away before people start hopping on a plane to fly out to Vegas for the weekend.

I think that means that this issue of putting people back to work…  Well, take the second largest industry in Nevada, construction, which was built on the back of the first largest industry, active growth in casinos and leisure.  Find me a project in casinos and leisure that will be green lighted in the next 24 to 36 months in this state.  You can’t find it.  So, if that can’t happen, then growth in construction can’t happen, which is why we actually saw unemployment go down in November, not because the numerator went up, but because the denominator went down – people are leaving the state; there’s no employment.

So, when you have those two facts:  a consumer-driven leisure industry highly correlated to the general economy, and a construction industry that is highly correlated to your first industry; it is a long wait.  And all you can do is try to really induce investment.

What really changes employment in America is investment, people actually deploying dollars:  buying a building, building a plant; if they’re a telecommunications company leasing space and putting people at desks.  And until you create incentives for those kinds of things to happen, I just don’t think the employment outlook in the state is very good.  It’ll change a little bit.  It’ll improve a little bit, because the organic paying down of the debt will happen, but it’s not going to be a fast recovery.  It’s a long wait.

NNB:  Doesn’t sound like a lot of good news…

CHACHAS: No, and I think the sad part for people in the state is that because we are a state where constitutionally we have these very significant limitations on the tax base, imagine what happens to the tax base as those core businesses erode.  In this state, the budget deficit problem is going to be a big one in the coming two years.  Big.  And Clark County, being the fifth or sixth largest public school district in America, services are going to decline, quality of life is going to decline, and all of that comes back to people working and people spending.

NNB: So what’s a Nevada voter to do?

CHACHAS:  Ok, so in the primary, look, the social issues are going to come up, but the average person I talk to is worried far, far more – even the ardent Republican – is worried about the behavior of the government, loading our balance sheet up with debt.  It’s so irresponsible what’s happening in Washington. It just makes me see red.  It’s irresponsible, and we’re all going to pay the piper for that.  And then there is really very little out of these other candidates about what they would do change it.  What would they do?  I’m going to give the voters some things I would do to change it.

One of them, if I were a senator in this state, I would go to DC and I would bang the door to get ten million acres back from the federal government.  The federal government controls 70% of the land in this state.  There is no reason why – even if you cordoned off every wilderness area, every national park and every military installation in this state – there are still 25 or 30 million acres of land that are just warehoused under the administration of the Bureau of Land Management.  Why?

NNB:  And we would do what with the land?

CHACHAS:  We would put it up for auction and privatize it.  We would invite people who are looking to invest, and we would pair it with tax policy.  We would give tax deferrals to companies that deploy capital to build businesses here.  So, for example, you buy 5,000 acres in Nye county in the flat lands, and you put up a solar panel plant, and for five years, we’ll give you tax exemption on anything you make.  Go put the money in the ground.  There is nothing like a tax incentive to get people to deploy capital.  And when businesses and people start to put money in, it spreads.  That business puts someone to work, and that person needs services, and so on.

And it’s the one resource that’s available in the state – there are other things you can do, of course, to induce investment, from a water perspective, and also a mining perspective – but the biggest resource and asset that the state has that it should grab back from the federal government is its land.  And essentially that land dividend, combined with, for example, if you front loaded the receipt of the proceeds from the auctioning off of that land – it’s not enough to just give it back to Carson City; you have to sell it, of course – so the first thing I’d say is, you have to get the land back, and then put it up for sale.  And it’s not about whether or not you sell it at some clearinghouse price so that someone after the fact says, oh, we sold it for $100 an acre, that’s such a low price.  That’s not the point.  Put the asset in the hands of someone who has put some risk capital in it, and that will burgeon into jobs.

NNB:  What else?

CHACHAS:  And the state, then, needs to do something about housing prices, because you’re never going to really see economic activity improve if 75% of the people in Clark County feel like the mortgage they have is worth more than the value of their house.  And today, nearly every person I talk to, they are upside down on their mortgage.  And they are fine as soon as long as they are earning something.  But the minute they stop earning, they send their keys to the bank and they go start over somewhere else.  The move to St. George; they leave.  And I don’t think we have even seen the full next wave of that.

NNB:  Final words?

CHACHAS:  My campaign is about honest leadership that will help prepare our state to compete for better jobs, more efficient services and a better quality of life.  That’s it.  And I look forward it.