Posts Tagged ‘debate’

Berkley In Attack Mode, Heller Takes More Restrained Approach In Second Senate Debate

By Sean Whaley | 10:11 pm October 11th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley used a second Senate debate tonight to attack Sen. Dean Heller on issues ranging from Medicare to online poker legislation, while her Republican opponent took a more restrained approach in the hour-long discussion on public television.

Berkley accused Heller of supporting a bill by Rep. Paul Ryan to change Medicare to a voucher program for those aged 55 or younger, adding to the cost of their health insurance.

“My opponent voted twice to end Medicare by turning it over to private insurance companies,” Berkley said. “That’s not the way to fix Medicare, that’s the way you destroy Medicare. Why? Because it’s going to increase the cost of Medicare, health care for older Americans, by $6,400 a year.”

She repeated criticisms made by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., that Heller failed to uphold his end of a deal to get online poker legislation passed in Congress that would help Nevada.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

But Heller, who is reportedly ahead in several polls in the hotly contested Senate race, did not respond in kind, instead taking a more restrained approach on topics ranging from gas prices to immigration reform.

Heller said his support of the Ryan budget plan would not lead to the privatization of Medicare, and that online poker legislation would be passed by the end of the year after the Nov. 6 election with him and Reid working in concert.

Heller said the poker bill has been turned into a political issue that cannot be addressed until the election is over.

“And I’ll be the first to say, that I believe I have two opponents in this particular race; I have the Congresswoman, and I have Sen. Reid also,” he said. “And I’m OK with that. Because we’re going to continue to push forward, and I’ll continue to push forward on the online gaming. And we’re going to get a bill passed before the end of the year. And I’m going to do that with the help and support, working together, with Sen. Reid.”

While the two candidates focused on the issues in the debate, which was marred in Northern Nevada by several lengthy technical interruptions related to the weather, the more sensational ad wars continue unabated on the airwaves.

Rep. Shelley Berkley - D-Nev.

A Berkley ad now running says she is the real supporter of the middle class and job creation, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee is focusing on Berkley’s previous international travels at taxpayer expense.

In response to a question about a bill that would provide Bureau of Land Management land to the city of Yerington to allow for the development of a job-creating copper mine project, Berkley said she supports the measure even though she voted against it in a package of several bills.

Berkley said she looks forward to voting for a “clean” bill that does not include other measures that are unrelated to the proposal, which has been pushed by Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev.

Heller questioned Berkley’s commitment to the bill, saying that only in Washington, DC can you say you support a bill but vote against it.

Berkley acknowledged in response to a question that she voted in 1999 for a bill that deregulated the financial services industry, which has been blamed in part for the 2008 financial meltdown.

Berkley acknowledged voting for the Glass-Steagall Act, which she called a mistake, but said the country needs to look forward at what can be done to protect the American people. Berkley said she voted for the Dodd-Frank bill to reign in the worst excesses of the banking industry.

“My opponent had an opportunity to reign in the worst abuses of Wall Street by voting for the Dodd-Frank bill and he didn’t,” she said. “So unlike me, who is fighting for the middle class and trying to make some sense out of this and give these banks some regulation so they can never get us into this mess again, so we never have massive unemployment because of their avarice and greed and we never end up with a housing crisis like we did.”

But Heller said Berkley’s voted for deregulation while former Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., opposed the bill. She then voted for the bank bailout bill and then supported Dodd-Frank was to give her and her colleagues cover for earlier supporting bank deregulation.

“So when the banks came and said hey, we want to be deregulated, my opponent said OK,” he said. “When they said we made bad decisions because of this deregulation, they said we want to be bailed out, she said OK. And then what happened is they passed Dodd-Frank. The purpose of Dodd-Frank was to give cover for those who voted for the bailout.”


Audio clips:

Rep. Shelley Berkley says Sen. Dean Heller voted twice to end traditional Medicare coverage:

101112Berkley1 :16 $6,400 a year.”

Berkley says Heller did not support a bill to reign in the excesses of Wall Street:

101112Berkley2 :27 like we did.”

Heller says he will work with Sen. Harry Reid and get an online gaming bill passed by the end of the year:

101112Heller1 :17 with Sen. Reid.”

Heller says Berkley’s vote for the Dodd-Frank bill was to give herself cover for voting for bank deregulation and the subsequent bank bailout bill:

101112Heller2 :18 for the bailout.”



First Lady Presents Her Case For Another Term For President At Rally In Reno

By Sean Whaley | 12:54 pm October 3rd, 2012

RENO – First Lady Michelle Obama sought to make the case for another term for her husband at a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno today, ahead of a much anticipated first debate in Denver tonight between President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney.

With the Nov. 6 general election just 34 days away, a crowd estimated at about 3,800 by the fire marshal cheered the First Lady as she talked about her husband’s character and accomplishments in his first term, including ending the war in Iraq and eliminating the threat of Osama bin Laden.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks today at a rally at the University of Nevada, Reno. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Her remarks came on the couple’s 20th anniversary. After the rally, the First Lady was set to fly to Denver for the debate and to see her husband for the first time today.

In personal remarks that resembled those she gave at the Democratic National Convention, the First Lady said she and her husband were raised to believe that hard work matters more than how much money you make.

“We learned that the truth matters so you don’t take shortcuts; you don’t game the system; you don’t play by your own set of rules,” Obama said. “We learned that none of us gets where we are on our own. None of us. That each of us has a community of people lifting us up.

“See, these are the values that make Barack such an extraordinary husband to me, and such a phenomenal father to our girls,” she said. “And I have seen how those values are so critical for leading this country.”

The First Lady also talked about what he faced upon taking office in January 2009.

The economy was losing an average of 800,000 jobs a month, she said.

“This is what welcomed him into the office,” Obama said. “And today, while we still have a long way to go to rebuild our economy, understand that we have had 30 straight months of private sector job growth under this president, a total of 5.1 million new jobs. Good jobs right here in the United States of America. That’s where we are today.”

Obama asked the crowd if they want to return to the policies that got the country into its economic troubles to begin with.

“It’s all on the line,” she said. “It’s all at stake this November.”

It will come down to a few key states like Nevada, Obama said.

Obama asked the crowd to make sure their friends are registered to vote and actually vote in Nevada to swing the battleground state that is Nevada to the president for a second time.

“If you want to give me a nice anniversary present, here is something you can do,” she said. “From now until November, we’re going to need every single one of you to work like you’ve never worked before.

“So see, what I tell myself is we cannot turn back now,” she said. “Not now. We have come so far, but we have so much more work to do.”


Audio clips:

First Lady Michelle Obama says she and her husband were raised with the right values:

100312Obama1 :23 lifting us up.”

Obama says the country has created 5.1 million private sector jobs since her husband became president:

100312Obama2 :20 we are today.”


Jobs, Support Of Middle Class Focus Of Spirited Senate Debate Between Heller, Berkley

By Sean Whaley | 2:10 pm September 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – It took all of about ten minutes for Sen. Dean Heller and Rep Shelley Berkley to mix it up in their first debate in the U.S. Senate race Thursday, criticizing each other on campaign issues ranging from ethics to Medicare to big oil subsidies.

The hour-long debate on KNPB-TV in Reno was the first chance for many voters to see the two candidates spar on the issues, most of which have already been the focus of campaign attacks in the race to date.

Heller, the Republican appointed to the seat last year, and Berkley, a seven-term Democrat Congresswoman representing the 1st District, will debate twice more before election day on Nov. 6.

Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev.

Heller criticized Berkley for supporting big government bailouts and sequestration, a process which could see massive cuts in military and domestic spending, called the “fiscal cliff,” beginning in January if Congress cannot reach agreement on how to reduce spending. He also commented on the ethics issues that are dogging her through the campaign.

Berkley went after Heller for supporting tax breaks for big oil and for supporting a plan by Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan to change the Medicare program for younger Americans when they retire in the years to come.

Heller’s alleged ‘hobos’ remark starts the back-and-forth

One of the first questions to provoke Heller was in reference to his alleged comment in Elko in February of 2010 when unemployment benefits were being extended. He supposedly asked if by continuing the program that “the government is now creating hobos.”

“This is the most difficult part of an election; that is proving something that you didn’t do or say,” Heller said in response to the question. “And in this case this is something that I did not do and something that I did not say. Let’s be very specific. I did not say that.”

Berkley used the opportunity to try to align Heller with Mitt Romney’s controversial comments about 47 percent of Americans being dependent on the federal government.

Heller has disavowed Romney’s comments.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

Did Heller say that the government is creating hobos?

Yes, according to the Elko Daily Free Press, which reported his comments as: “Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs.

“He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. ‘I believe there should be a federal safety net,’ Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. ‘Is the government now creating hobos?’ ”

But the Heller campaign, in a statement released during the debate, said: “Dean Heller never called unemployed individuals hobos. Then-Congressman Heller was referring to a presentation made by Lawrence B. Lindsey, former Director of the National Economic Council at the White House, before the Republican Members of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

The statement cited a number of times Heller voted to extend unemployment insurance during his career in Congress.

Debate moves to who is a bigger supporter of the middle class

Heller used the opportunity to question Berkley’s claims that she supports the middle class.

“She’s bailed out Detroit, she’s bailed out Wall Street, you name it she’s bailed out everybody time and time again,” he said. “And the question is when are you going to bail out the middle class. What are you going to do for the middle class. You continue to support big bailouts.”

Berkley cited five votes Heller has made “to protect tax breaks for corporations that ship American jobs overseas.”

The Heller campaign pointed to Berkley’s vote in July to extend tax breaks for all but those earning over $250,000 a year. Eliminating those tax breaks “could cost Nevada 6,000 jobs and more than 900,000 nationwide,” the statement said.

Berkley voted for an energy tax, opposed the Keystone Pipeline which will mean the oil gets shipped to China, and supported the Affordable Care Act, Heller said.

Berkley has supported energy tax breaks in Congress, but those breaks have focused on alternative energy development. She introduced the  “Clean Energy Jobs Act,” which would extend a 30 percent tax credit for domestic companies that manufacture products used in clean energy projects such as wind turbines and solar panels.

Heller too said he supports renewable energy development, including some federal support.

Berkley’s ethics investigation initiates another round of discussion

Berkley, who is the subject of a House ethics investigation over whether her support of a kidney transplant program in Southern Nevada benefited her physician husband, was asked about the charges. The investigation is under way and is not expected to be resolved before the election.

Berkley did not respond directly to the question, saying only that her only motive was to help Nevadans. Instead she used the opportunity to again attack Heller for voting for big oil subsidies.

Heller said “character matters,” and called Berkley’s ethics issues “a pattern” that existed prior to her being elected to Congress in 1998.

Heller was referring to a memo Berkley wrote to her then-Las Vegas Sands Inc. boss Sheldon Adelson about needing to do favors to local elected officials to get favorable treatment. The memo was made public in 1998.

The Berkley campaign has called the memo old news and not a factor in her election to Congress.

“I think character does matter, and you know what’s important to the people of the state of Nevada? Who’s going to protect them. Who is going to be fighting for them in the U.S. Senate,” Berkley said in the debate. “The middle income families, who’s working for them, who’s making sure that we get people to go back to work.”

Questions about who supports Medicare take center stage

The candidates also debated the future of Medicare, and Heller’s two votes for changing the program to a voucher plan for those under age 55.

Heller said Berkley’s vote for the health care act meant taking $700 billion from Medicare.

“She needs to quit stealing,” from Medicare, he said.

Berkley said moving Medicare to private insurance companies will cost Nevadans more, and “put private insurance company bureaucrats in-between doctors and their patients.”

Berkley said she did not cut money out of Medicare benefits, but instead voted to eliminate over-payments to insurance companies.

Does Heller want to eliminate the Department of Education?

Another issue that provoked a dispute between the candidates is whether Heller has in fact called for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Education.

Heller said he does not support closing the agency, but that it should be downsized to provide more money directly to local school districts.

The Berkley campaign argues that Heller has called for the elimination of the agency.

The Pahrump Valley Times reported: “Heller singled out the U.S. Department of Education for elimination. ‘Just to give you an idea of how they decide how Pahrump Valley High School should be run, we have 3,500 people back in Washington D.C. in the Department of Education that average more than $100,000 per year per person. Now you can’t tell me you can’t take that money, move it to the states and be able to teach better, giving it to the teachers, the principals and the parents.’ ”


Audio clips:

Sen. Dean Heller says he did not make “hobos” remark:

092812Heller1 :10 not say that.”

Heller says Shelley Berkley has voted to bailout big business, not the middle class:

092812Heller2 :12 support big bailouts.”

Rep. Shelly Berkley says Heller supports big business and shipping jobs overseas:

092812Berkley1 :10 their tax subsidies.”

Berkley says the question is who is going to fight for the middle class in the U.S. Senate:

092812Berkley2 :14 back to work.”


CNN Debate Recap — Contention, Condescension, Dissension

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:42 pm October 19th, 2011

Now that the dust has settled, Dear Readers, thought I’d recall a few memorable moments from last night’s CNN debate at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas:

Best Zinger

My pick for the best one-liner of the night:

In his self-introductory remarks, Perry said he was was “an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience.”

(Yes, he was talking to you, Mitt.)


For the first 25 minutes of the debate, it was Pick on Herman Cain night, as follows:

Rep. Michele Bachman:  “Anytime you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away.”

Sen. Rick Santorum: “Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness. I give him credit for — for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families.”

Gov. Rick Perry: “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don’t need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one.”

Rep. Ron Paul: “Herman. It’s not going to fly.” And: “It’s very, very dangerous. And it will raise more revenues.”

Gov. Mitt Romney: “The analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle-income people see higher taxes under your plan.”

Cain repeatedly defended his plan, insisting that it was being misrepresented and would not raise taxes on poor people.

“The reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians — they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair,” responded Cain.

Team Cain’s spin room take? The attacks proved he’s considered the frontrunner. They also said he would be releasing more details in the near future.

Health Care

Romney and Santorum got into a shouting match over the Massachusetts health care measure passed when Romney was governor of the Bay State.

Santorum: “You just don’t have credibility. Your consultants helped craft Obamacare.”

Attacks on “RomneyCare” aren’t going away, as much as the former Massachusetts governor might wish they would.

Romney’s best defense is probably the one he’s lately been sticking with and did again last night:  What he did in MA was good for that state given the situation. And states, not the federal government, should be legislating health care solutions tailored to the needs of their residents.

Illegal Immigration

Perry attacked Romney on a story that recently surfaced: “Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.”

A shouting match ensued as the two governors took turns interrupting and talking over one another.

At one point, Romney condescendingly said to Perry, “This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you’re going to get testy.”

(Romney did acknowledge that a landscaping company he hired employed illegal immigrants, but he said he fired the company when he found out.)

Also notable: During an exchange of barbs, Romney at one point put his hand on Perry’s shoulder. Aggressive.

Looking Forward

There are 12 more Republican debates scheduled in the upcoming months (yes, really).

Most of the campaigns have not started running a full menu of TV ads. Once the field is culled (a factor of campaign dollars), the remaining contenders will have many more chances to rip their opponents on these and other issues.


CD2 Candidates Battle Over Tax Policy, Solutions for the Economy

By Anne Knowles | 7:14 am August 26th, 2011

Helmuth Lehmann and Tim Fasano were caught in the crossfire last night as Mark Amodei and Kate Marshall threw rhetorical punches at one another during an hour-long debate between the four candidates for Nevada’s second congressional district.

Former state Sen. Mark Amodei responds to a question at the debate./Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

The former state senator and current state treasurer stood on opposite ends of the podium trading jabs about taxes and jobs for much of the live debate held in Reno’s KNPB TV studio and broadcast statewide.

Democratic candidate Marshall proposed offering tax breaks to companies who create jobs and endorsed a so-called infrastructure bank, an idea also promoted by President Barack Obama, which would lend money to private companies to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. She used the topic to chide her Republican opponent.

“It has bipartisan support unless, of course, you signed the tax pledge, then you’re not supportive of that bipartisan piece of legislation,” said Marshall. “In order to come together you have to not box yourself in a corner you can’t sign a tax pledge which has Grover Norquist telling you when and whether you’ll raise taxes.”

Amodei recently re-signed a pledge not to raise taxes if he were elected to Congress, a pledge promulgated by Americans for Tax Reform, a Washington-based advocacy group headed by Grover Norquist.

“I think it signals a willingness to acknowledge the facts. Compromise is not spending 40 cents of every dollar on debt. Compromise is not running up the debt until it equals the GDP, ” said Amodei when asked earlier in the debate whether signing the pledge signaled his unwillingness to compromise. “It’s not being intractable, it’s recognizing we cannot tax your way out of this.”

For his part, Amodei rebuked Marshall for latching onto loan guarantees made to private enterprises by the federal government.

“We need to start telling the people the truth,” said Amodei when asked what he would do to restore confidence in Congress. “How maybe loan guarantees aren’t a good thing. Remember the ones to Chrysler and General Motors?  They cost the taxpayer. Remember the ones to AIG and some of the Wall Street folks.”

Amodei, like Marshall, repeated ideas he’s been touting on the campaign trail to solve the state’s economic woes. He talked about expediting the process for permits to use public lands and, on a national level, suggested a hiring freeze for the federal government.

Amodei said 85 percent of the land in Nevada is publically-owned and should be better utilized for ranching, mining and energy resources in order to create jobs, but permits to use the land can take up to 10 years to acquire.

“The processing times are phenomenally slow to the point where we are de facto closed for business,” said Amodei.

When the candidates were asked when they disagree with their own party, Amodei said his party over the last couple decades has sometimes lacked courage.

“Not having the courage to say we don’t need special healthcare for members of Congress, that we don’t need a special bank for member of Congress,” said Amodei. “There’s a good bunch of people serving there, but the culture has overtaken.”

Nevada State Treasurer Kate Marshall

Marshall said she parts way with the Democratic party on the so-called Bush tax cuts, reductions in the tax rate passed under President George W. Bush that are set to expire at the end of the year.

“I think we need to keep the Bush tax cuts,” said Marshall, saying that small businesses needed the cuts to create jobs.

Only Lehmann, a non-partisan independent, favored letting them expire, but only to raise rates on the wealthy.

The candidates also agreed that they would have not voted to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, but for varying reasons. Lehmann said he is opposed to the balanced budget amendment that was attached to the bill.

“I think it’s a ruse to make people believe that Congress is actually doing something,” said Lehmann.

Fasano, the Independent American Party candidate, said he wouldn’t have voted for it either.

“We have a problem in government and that problem is spending,” said Fasano.

Marshall said she was opposed to the deal because it cut defense spending and Medicare and didn’t close tax loopholes.

“It was the wrong priorities and those are not my priorities,” said Marshall.

Amodei said that he would have voted no because Washington needs to learn spending discipline.

Early voting for the special election to fill vacant seat starts on Saturday. The election is Sept. 13.


Differences Between Major Party Candidates In CD2 Race On Display At Reno Debate

By Sean Whaley | 10:54 pm August 17th, 2011

RENO – The two major party candidates running in the 2nd Congressional District special election to replace Dean Heller stuck to their talking points in a tame hour-long debate here today.

But the verbal jousting in front of about 150 people at the California Building in Idlewild Park still managed to illustrate the contrasts between Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall.

Marshall, the Nevada state Treasurer in the midst of her second term, said she would protect social security and Medicare while seeking to balance the federal budget. She also pointed to her successes as treasurer, making money on the state’s investments in every quarter she has been in office.

Nevada state Treasurer and Democrat CD2 candidate Kate Marshall. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau.

“There is only one candidate here who will protect your social security and Medicare, and that is me,” Marshall said.

Amodei,  a former state Senator who served in several sessions of the Legislature, said he is a candidate who does not think the federal government is too small, that there aren’t enough regulations and that there isn’t enough taxing and spending. Amodei said his legislative experience will allow him to tackle the tough issues facing the country the day after the Sept. 13 special election.

“I hope you take a look at who has worked for 24 years in the private sector to earn their living,” he said. “When you’re worried about unemployment, you’re worried about foreclosures, you’re worried about the economy, I think it’s a good thing to have somebody who comes from the private sector.”

Marshall touted her advocacy of Senate Bill 75 passed in the 2011 legislative session, which will allow the treasurer’s office to invest school funds in start-up businesses to create jobs, and criticized Amodei for proposing what she said would have been the largest tax increase in Nevada history as a lawmaker in 2003. The tax bill that was ultimately approved included a payroll tax, which means businesses that hire new employees pay more tax, she said.

“It’s no wonder our unemployment rate is the highest in the nation,” she said.

Amodei said his tax proposal was designed to head off the possibility of an income tax in Nevada. It was also intended to prevent a tax on gross receipts. Amodei also noted he opposed a $781 million tax increase in 2009.

Former Nevada state Sen. and CD2 GOP candidate Mark Amodei. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau.

Also participating in the hour-long debate were American Party candidate Tim Fasano and independent Helmuth Lehmann, both of whom argued that they were better choices than the establishment party candidates.

Fasano said the two major party candidates are “out of the same cloth” and voters who want change should vote for him on Sept. 13.

“I will stand for the rule of law,” he said.

The special election was made necessary when Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed former Rep. Dean Heller to the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned. The district encompasses 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties and part of Clark County.

The district has a more than 30,000 Republican voter edge, but there are also more than 60,000 independent voters.

Audio clips:

GOP candidate Mark Amodei says his 24 years of private sector experience are a big part of his qualifications for Congress:

081711Amodei :22 the private sector.”

Democrat candidate Kate Marshall says she will work to balance the budget while protecting social security and Medicare:

081711Marshall :32 and that’s me.”

First CD-2 Debate This Week in Reno

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:28 am August 15th, 2011

Three candidates competing for Nevada’s 2nd U.S. House Congressional District seat will debate in Reno this week.

The debate, sponsored by the Truckee Meadows Post 3819 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, will be moderated by KRNV news anchor Joe Hart.

Candidates included will be Democrat Kate Marshall, Republican Mark Amodei and Independent American Party candidate Tim Fasano.

The debate will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Aug. 17 at the city’s California Building and will be broadcast by KRNV News 4 and News Talk KKFT 99.1 FM Fox News Radio.

The event is free for attendees.

Update: Independent candidate Helmuth Lehmann has been invited and is expected to participate in the debate.

Nevada Delegates to Participate in Presidential Straw Poll at Southern Republican Leadership Conference

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:11 pm June 16th, 2011

With the New Hampshire debate concluded, Republican presidential contenders are today gathering in New Orleans in anticipation of the first major test of strength among GOP activists from around the country, the Republican Leadership Conference 2011 (RLC) Presidential Straw Poll.

Sub-plots abound.

Nine presidential candidates. Over 2,000 delegates from 38 states including many from early caucus and early primary states like Iowa, Nevada and Florida. Huntsman, Romney and Pawlenty all in one place for the first time. Bachmann on the upswing after exceeding expectations in New Hampshire this week. Cain and Santorum vying for relevancy. Newt regrouping. Ron Paul plugging along.

Texas governor Rick Perry, who has not announced but whose name has been floated as a possible late-entry to the race, will also be speaking at the conference.

Paul is expected to win the straw poll in part because his campaign purchased “an obscene number” of conference registration badges to distribute among his supporters, according to a GOP consultant with knowledge of the situation.

He did not know whether paid-for badges were given to any Nevada delegates, but it’s certainly possible in light of the Texas congressman’s strong Silver State support in the 2008 caucuses. Paul placed second to Romney in Nevada with 14% of the vote.

With Team Paul virtually guaranteed a win, what will be interesting is who takes second place. The runner-up at RLC can leave the Big Easy claiming to be a frontrunner with the conservative base.

Cain is now essentially battling Bachman for the Tea Party mantle. And T-Paw needs a strong showing after a weak performance in Manchester.

“With the field nearly defined for the first time, the nominating contest is at a critical point this week. Our straw poll of delegates from 38 states will be the best indication yet of which candidates core GOP activists, donors and elected officials support for president,” RLC President and CEO Charlie Davis said.

Voting takes place Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The results will be posted to at on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.


Leading GOP Candidates For Heller Congressional Seat Face Off In Tame Debate

By Sean Whaley | 5:26 am June 16th, 2011

RENO – For the three leading Republican candidates seeking the Congressional District 2 seat vacated with the appointment of Dean Heller to the U.S. Senate, it was all about qualifications and experience in a debate held here Wednesday.

Former state Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei, also a former state senator, state Sen. Greg Brower, appointed to fill the seat formerly held by retired Sen. Bill Raggio, and retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold, faced off ahead of a GOP meeting Saturday in Sparks that could determine which candidate will get the party nod.

Republicans vying for the Congressional District 2 seat, from left, Mark Amodei, Greg Brower and Kirk Lippold, chat before the debate. / Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

The debate was fairly sedate until the end, when the candidates talked about their qualifications for the post.

Brower criticized Amodei for pushing a massive tax hike in the 2003 Nevada legislative session, and for supporting collective bargaining efforts during his time in the Legislature.

Brower said Amodei is on the “wrong side” of these issues in 2011 for Republicans, who want lower taxes, less spending and a smaller government.

Amodei defended his tax proposal, and said he was participating in the 2003 session unlike Brower, a member of the Assembly when he lost a GOP primary race to Sharron Angle in 2002.

Lippold acknowledged his lack of political experience, but said he would benefit from not being burdened by any “business as usual” positions on the issues facing the country. Lippold, commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked by terrorists in Yemen in 2000, said he has the strength of character and integrity to stand up to President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The debate held at the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows drew about 115 people. The candidates agreed on a number of issues, from rejecting the idea of increasing the federal debt, at least without corresponding cuts in spending, to working to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Lippold said nuclear power has to be a part of that strategy, and suggested nuclear reactors could be built at the former Nevada Test Site to help power the Southwest.

Right now the CD2 race is wide open, with 31 candidates, including 17 Republicans, already filed to succeed Heller. Filing ends June 30. But the Nevada Supreme Court is expected to decide later this summer if the Democrat and Republican parties can pick their candidates rather than see a “ballot royale” at a special election that will occur sometime this fall.

Republicans are challenging the wide open contest advocated by Democrat Secretary of State Ross Miller. The GOP is concerned that with several strong Republican candidates on the ballot, Democrats could take the seat for the first time since it was created in redistricting in 1981. The district covers all of Northern and rural Nevada and includes a small portion of Clark County as well.

With similar views on the major issues, the candidates acknowledged that their background and experiences are key to who should win the GOP nod for the seat.

It was at this point that Brower delved into Amodei’s record in the Nevada Legislature. Amodei was termed out in the 2010 election.

“My record in Carson City is one of fighting for balancing budgets without raising taxes,” Brower said. “In 2003, Mark was part of the effort, he co-sponsored a bill, to raise what would have been the biggest tax increase in state history.”

State Sen. Greg Brower makes a point at the debate./Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

Brower also questioned Amodei’s support for public sector collective bargaining during his time in the Legislature.

In response, Amodei said the tax bill he proposed was designed to head off an income tax that could have been imposed on Nevadans.

“That bill was done as a way to defeat the Nevada IRS,” he said. “So think about that. This state with an income tax? No way.”

Former state Sen. Mark Amodei responds to a question at the debate./Photo: Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

In response to the collective bargaining statement, Amodei said: “And the collective bargaining stuff was a way to try to blow up the teachers union, who we are still under the thumb of financially. And I said that in my floor statement, but my opponents are not telling you that, because you know what, it doesn’t serve their political purpose.”

Brower also pointed out Lippold’s lack of legislative or Washington, D.C. experience.

Lippold said the nation’s founding fathers didn’t have such experience either.

“They took life experiences and went on to build the greatest nation on the face of the earth, and give us the tools that still hold true today,” he said. “I will do, having experienced a terrorist attack personally, whatever it takes to keep this nation safe.”

Retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold speaks at the debate./Photo by Sean Whaley, Nevada News Bureau

In an interview after the debate, Lippold said: “We need people that are going to go to Washington that have the strength and character and integrity to stand on principle and tell the Obama Administration and the Harry Reid machine, now is not the time to continue government expansion. We need to reduce spending, we need to reduce government, we need to reduce taxes.”

The state Democrat Party also weighed in on the debate with a press release immediately following the event.

“Tonight’s debate highlighted the clear choice voters in CD 2 face this fall between a Democrat who will fight to create jobs and protect Social Security and Medicare, and a Republican who supports the job-destroying, Medicare-ending Washington GOP agenda,” said Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Zach Hudson.

Audio clips:

State Sen. Greg Brower says former state Sen. Mark Amodei pushed a big tax increase in 2003:

061511Brower1 :13 in state history.”

Brower says Amodei is on the wrong side of issues important to Republicans:

061511Brower2 :10 size of government.”

Amodei says his 2003 tax proposal was an effort to head off a state income tax:

061511Amodei1 :19 tax? No way.”

Amodei says his collective bargaining position is not being fully explained by his opponents:

061511Amodei2 :13 their political purpose.”

Retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold says the Founding Fathers didn’t have political experience either:

061511Lippold1 :27 hold true today.”

Lippold says he has the strength of character to stand up to President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid:

061511Lippold2 :16 to reduce taxes.”

UPDATED: Top GOP Candidates for CD-2 Will Debate This Week in Reno

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:57 pm June 13th, 2011

As promoted by organizers, the “top three Republican candidates for the 2nd U.S. House District Congressional seat” will debate one another for the first time at a special event to be held at 6 p.m., June 15 at the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows at 2680 E. 9th Street in Reno.

(Update: As of 12:30 p.m. on June 15, Ray Hagar at the RGJ is reporting on Twitter that there is a $10 charge to attend the debate.)

The invited candidates are retired Navy commander Kirk Lippold, former state Senator and recently resigned state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei and state Senator Greg Brower.

The debate will be broadcast live by KNPB Channel 5 and News Talk KKFT 99.1 FM (FOX News Radio). You can listen to the livestream online here.

(Update: I have been informed as of 4:11 p.m., Monday, June 13 that KNPB will not be televising after all.)

Radio listeners will be given the opportunity to offer questions to via the station, some of which may be asked of the candidates in the second half of the debate.

Northern Nevada television personality John Tyson will moderate the debate, which is expected to last 90 minutes. A panel will present questions to the candidates.

The event is sponsored by the Nevada Republican Assembly.

Bloggers and podcasters are being encouraged to ask for press credentials by contacting Paul Jackson at

In addition, Nevada News Bureau has been authorized to collect and pass along questions from bloggers for possible use during the event. If you are a blogger, you can drop your question below as a comment (along with your name and blog URL) or email them to me at:







Challengers To Nevada Attorney General Claim Politics In Her Term, Incumbent Says She Makes Decisions On Legal Merits

By Sean Whaley | 9:09 pm October 19th, 2010

A debate today among the three candidates for Nevada attorney general focused on a disputed ad discussing a decades old criminal conviction of the Republican seeking the post and allegations of political favoritism by the incumbent, Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto.

An ad being run by Masto about Republican Travis Barrick citing his arrest and jail sentence for “harassing women” was the first topic of conversation for the three candidates appearing on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program.

Barrick said the criminal trespassing conviction, which happened two decades ago, was the result of his protesting a California clinic that was performing illegal late-term abortions.

Barrick said he would not back down from his actions, which he said came about because the “rule of law” was being ignored in California by the attorney general and other law enforcement officials.

“It’s a badge of honor for me,” he said.

Masto said Nevada voters deserve to know that Barrick, who is running for the top law enforcement position in the state, has a criminal record and served jail time.

Masto said she has principles and values she upholds every day without violating the law.

“You don’t get to make a decision on who you are going to protect and who you are not going to protect,” she said.

Joel Hansen, the Independent American Party candidate for the position, said Masto’s views on Barrick’s actions contradict her actions when she failed to follow Nevada law by filing a lawsuit against the federal health care reform law when asked to do so by Gov. Jim Gibbons.

“I think it is pretty hypocritical of General Masto to criticize Mr. Barrick when she committed a misdemeanor when she refused to sue on Obamacare after she’d been ordered to do so by the governor,” he said. “The Nevada statute says that she has to file suit if the governor tells her to and it is a misdemeanor if she doesn’t.”

Masto said that as attorney general, she has to evaluate whether to file legal actions, even if requested by the governor as her client. Masto said she evaluates whether to take action on a case based on merit, not politics.

“You have a professional responsibility based on the license as the attorney,” she said. “I’m the attorney in this particular instance. I was elected independently from the governor. You look at the legal merits, that’s what the attorney general does.”

Barrick said:  “The arrogance of her statement to say that that lawsuit has no merit is breathtaking.”

Hansen said he has filed a private class action lawsuit against the healthcare law that identifies numerous violations of the U.S. Constitution.

“It is not frivolous,” he said. “There is nothing frivolous about this. The only thing frivolous is her statement that it is frivolous.”

A federal judge in Florida ruled last week that the lawsuit against the healthcare law filed by 20 states, including Nevada, could proceed.

The debate also touched on Masto’s failed prosecution of Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki for allegedly misusing college savings funds while serving as state Treasurer.

Hansen said the prosecution had the appearance of being politically motivated.

Masto denied any political motivation for the prosecution, which was dismissed by a Clark County district judge late last year.

Audio clips:

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto says voters deserve to know about her opponent’s criminal record:

101910Masto :10 next attorney general.”

GOP Attorney General candidate Travis Barrick says he served his time for trespassing and moved on:

101910Barrick :05 with my life.”

IAP Attorney General candidate Joel Hansen says Masto’s ad against Barrick is hypocritical:

101910Hansen :24 if she doesn’t.”

Nevada State Treasurer, Opponent, Trade Jabs In Televised Debate

By Sean Whaley | 8:44 pm October 11th, 2010

Republican state treasurer candidate Steve Martin faced off against Democratic incumbent Kate Marshall in a debate Monday, with Martin continuing to criticize his opponent for failing to fully disclose details of a $50 million failed 2008 investment.

Marshall countered that she fully disclosed the loss with the September 2008 bankruptcy filing by Lehman Brothers and rejected any suggestion by Martin that she should have been aware of the impending failure of the firm that cost states and local governments $3 billion nationwide.

Martin took the opportunity during the debate on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program to correct the suggestion that he had lost money for his private clients with the Lehman Brothers collapse, a claim made by Marshall and her staff.

Martin said he was not providing investment advice at the time and so could not have lost his clients any money.

Marshall emphasized her leadership in her first term as treasurer and rejected Martin’s criticisms that she misled the Legislature about the financial status of the Millennium Scholarship program or mismanaged the office’s unclaimed property fund.

An audit of the unclaimed property fund did identify areas that needed to be fixed, but she said: “I think the first paragraph of the audit says it all, it says that our office has done a phenomenal job.”

Martin, a certified public accountant, also said he is better qualified to serve as treasurer given his financial background versus Marshall, who is an attorney.

Martin again emphasized the $50 million Lehman loss and the failure of Marshall to be up front about it.

“If they say they have transparency in the office, why did the report that was filed in 2009 make no mention of Lehman Brothers,” he asked. “Why in June of 2010 did the treasurer request an attorney general’s opinion that said we couldn’t talk about this at the Board of Finance meeting.”

Martin also asked why the next Board of Finance meeting was delayed until after the Nov. 2 general election.

Marshall countered by saying she disclosed the Lehman loss the day after the company filed for bankruptcy. The loss to the state may now be less than $50 million because Lehman Brothers is now profitable, she said.

“First off I think it is dishonorable to say that I should have known when my opponent admits his own clients lost money on Lehman’s, so I find that a disingenuous statement,” she said.

Martin said Marshall’s comment is in error.

“Well let’s correct the record right now,” he said. “None of my clients lost money in the stock market. Absolutely none. That is twice your office has accused me of having said that. It is absolutely incorrect.”

Audio clips:

GOP treasurer candidate Steve Martin says Marshall has not been open about the Lehman loss:

101110Martin1 :16 of Finance meeting.”

Marshall says Martin should not criticize her office on Lehman because  his clients lost money:

101110Marshall1 :10 a disingenuous statement.”

Martin says Marshall’s claim he lost his clients money is false:

101110Martin2 :17 is absolutely incorrect.”

Marshall says audit on unclaimed property says her office has done a great job:

101110Marshall2 :05 a phenomenal job.”

Reid, Sandoval Debate Education in First Big Head-To-Head

By Sean Whaley | 6:48 am August 30th, 2010

Underdog Democratic candidate for governor Rory Reid took the opportunity at a first debate today with leading GOP candidate Brian Sandoval to challenge his opponent’s commitment to spending on public education.

In his opening remarks, Reid said he has a plan to erase a $2.5 billion shortfall it the state budget without cutting education. Sandoval would cut education and lay off teachers, he said.

Sandoval, leading by double-digits in the polls, parried Reid’s attacks, saying his proposals, including given parents the choice to send their children to private schools with public funding, would not result in teacher layoffs.

Sandoval said Reid’s budget plan would cut education despite his comments to the contrary.

The one-hour debate in Las Vegas, held at the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy and broadcast statewide, did not appear to produce any serious political gain for either of the two major party candidates.

Reid emphasized his experience as chairman of the Clark County Commission, saying he has balanced budgets as big as Nevada’s for eight years without raising taxes.

“Strength and consistency is what Nevada needs in its next governor,” he said.

Sandoval said his credentials as a lawmaker, gaming regulator, attorney general and federal judge, and said Nevada’s public education needs a shakeup.

“We need to do something tough, we need to challenge the system, we need to shake up the status quo,” he said.

Both candidates talked up their ideas of giving principals, teachers and parents more power over how to spend tax dollars in the classroom as ways to improve student performance and get more mileage out of the state’s public education investment.

Sandoval said he would achieve local control by using block grants to schools to let them decide how best to spend their limited dollars.

Reid said his proposal would be to let parents take their kids out of failing schools and enrollment them in successful public schools. He called his plan true choice.

“I provide real choice, not the false choice Brian’s plan calls for,” he said.

Reid attacked Sandoval on his support of private school vouchers saying it would take $100 million from public schools to fund the private education of those who could afford it.

In response, Sandoval said choice would create competition and improve education.

Not surprisingly, both camps claimed victory immediately after the debate.

The Reid camp said in part: “If elected in November, Brian Sandoval will continue Jim Gibbons’ shameful legacy of taking money from our children’s classrooms to supplement the state budget. Brian Sandoval does not consider education a priority. Brian Sandoval does not understand the simple fact that we will never get out of this economic slump and draw new industry until we have good schools.”

Sandoval’s commented: “My education plan is a bold approach to challenging the status quo. We must end the social promotion of our children, end teacher tenure and give parents choices to seek the best possible education for their children. It’s time to get serious about reform. Our children deserve nothing less.”


Audio clips:

Rory Reid says Brian Sandoval budget plan would cut public education:

082910Reid1 :38 in your classrooms.”

Brian Sandoval says he has plan to shake up public education system:

082910Sandoval 1 :46 will do that.”

Reid says Sandoval voucher plan bad for Nevada children:

082910Reid2 :08 a bad choice.”

Sandoval says Reid plan would cut education:

082910Sandoval2 :10 cut to education.”

Team Heck: “Titus Dodges Debates”

By Elizabeth Crum | 3:50 pm June 18th, 2010

From the Inbox via the Joe Heck for Congress campaign this afternoon:

Titus Dodges Debates

Today, Dr. Joe Heck’s campaign for Congress issued the following statement following a phone call with Congresswoman Dina Titus’ campaign. Grant Hewitt, Dr. Heck’s campaign manager called Congresswoman Titus’ office in order to set up the debates as challenged and ultimately accepted according to the Las Vegas Review Journal on Wednesday, June 16th.

“While Dina Titus’s campaign continues their evasive rhetoric, the voters of southern Nevada wait for a real answer to Dr. Heck’s complete debate challenge. Our campaign is looking forward to introducing the Congresswoman to her electorate and the issues that matter most for the hard working families of southern Nevada,” said Hewitt. “While we understand that she is busy voting at the behest of Nancy Pelosi, we also must note that the voters we have spoken with would prefer that she come home and discuss the issues rather than blindly cast a ballot in favor of another expensive, job-killing policy,” concluded Hewitt.

During the phone call Titus’ campaign manager refused to establish a timetable to accept the full debate challenge, nor would they schedule a meeting with the Heck campaign to confirm a debate schedule. Throughout the call it was clear that the Titus campaign has no interest in addressing the challenge other than to keep with the rhetoric that the incumbent will eventually debate; addressing the complete challenge and debating the serious issues facing southern Nevada appears to not be a top priority.

Dr. Joe Heck sent Congresswoman Titus a letter requesting “five formal, public debates on specific policy topics agreed upon by both parties.” A spokesperson for Congresswoman Titus stated she has received “several requests” and are in the process of “determining what will be possible to accomplish.” Dr Joe Heck secured the Republican nomination for Nevada’s 3rdCongressional District and will challenge incumbent Dina Titus who has voted with Speaker Nancy Pelosi 97.2 percent of the time.


Yep, that’s gonna be one of Team Heck’s main mantras:  Titus is just a mini-Pelosi.

Titus will, of course, have to agree to debate Heck.  Which Team Heck very well knows, but taunting her publicly until she does is a lot of fun for the campaign staffers.

I’m guessing Titus will agree to do it two, maybe three times between now and the election.  And that we’ll see the first one sometime in July/early August.

The latest Mason-Dixon poll had Heck beating Titus 49-44, but the margin of error was 6% so we still have to call it pretty much “even.”  The M-D match-up in December showed the two in a dead heat at 40-40.

Most national pollsters have this race in the “Toss Up” column, and you can bet the neighborhood bank there is going to be a Lot of cash spent in CD-3 by both parties and their friends.  The Republicans are (of course) going to target all the most vulnerable House seats all summer long, and this is one of them, for a variety of reasons:

Titus is a Democratic incumbent (and a freshman Rep to boot) in a district that is badly suffering with high unemployment and foreclosure rates.

Also, she voted for health care reform, which was wildly popular in her party but maybe not so much in her Congressional district.

Joe Heck, who also happens to be a doctor, talked fairly articulately about health care the other night on Face to Face.  And when given the opportunity to distance himself from fellow Republican nominee Sharron Angle on the (related) issue of phasing out Medicare altogether, he did so, indirectly, by saying the idea (but not Angle) is “ludicrous,” as follows:

Ralston: “Are you for privatizing/phasing out Social Security and Medicare?”

Heck: “I am committed to making sure our seniors have the benefits they are entitled to and that they’ve earned, whether it’s Social Security or Medicare. And it’s ludicrous on its face to think that me, as a physician, would want to see Medicare dissolved….”

Ralston: “So you’re saying Sharron Angle is ludicrous?”

Heck: “That is not what I am saying. I am saying for me to think to privatize or to dissolve Medicare just doesn’t make sense as a physician. It’s critically important for seniors to have that coverage, to receive the health care that they receive once they reach the age of 65.”

Rory Says Eager to Debate “Early and Often,” Asks if Sandoval Will Keep “Ducking”

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:05 pm June 11th, 2010

Excerpt from a Team Rory press release this morning:

Rory Reid Accepts Challenges

Democratic candidate eager to debate early and often

Las Vegas, NV – Rory Reid has accepted a pair of debate challenges issued by members of the Nevada media.

He has accepted an invitation from the statewide television show “Face to Face” with Jon Ralston to participate in monthly debates with his opponent leading up to the November election. Rory also accepted an invitation to debate Republican Brian Sandoval on the statewide “Nevada Newsmakers” show with Sam Shad.

“Just like Jim Gibbons, Brian Sandoval wants to balance the budget on the backs of our children, jeopardizing our future, and I won’t stand for it,” Rory said. “So that’s what’s at stake, and I’m 100-percent committed to the fight. I am eager to debate Brian Sandoval about the importance of strong schools for a stronger economy, and every other issue important to Nevadans.”

Brian Sandoval said on primary election night: “No more hiding. We will debate about right direction for the future.”

But will Brian Sandoval live up to his word? Or will he continue ducking debates, as he did during the Republican primary, when he participated in only one debate? Even then, he agreed with Gibbons on virtually every issue. Sandoval ducked debates on “Face to Face” and with KDWN-AM during the primary.

My three cents:  Sandoval was able to avoid debating much during the primary, because he (knew he) really did not need to do so.  But he is going to have to debate Rory at least once or twice.  The price of not doing so could be too great (i.e. wide criticism from the media, fodder for attack ads).

And with or without the political fallout, I believe candidates for public office owe it to the voters to give them an opportunity to do/make a side-by-side comparison.