Posts Tagged ‘election’

Obama Visits Reno, Urges Congress To Expand Mortgage Refinancing Program

By Sean Whaley | 3:36 pm May 11th, 2012

RENO – President Barack Obama made a brief stopover here today, visiting with a couple who refinanced their home through a White House initiative helping underwater homeowners who have government-backed loans.

After meeting with Paul and Valerie Keller, Obama urged Congress to expand the Home Affordable Refinancing Program (HARP) to other mortgages as well.

President Obama greets the crowd in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

The Kellers were able to save $240 a month by refinancing using the program, he said.

“Now, Val says that they’ve been talking to some of their neighbors  – maybe some of you are here today – and you’re saying, well, that sounds like a pretty good idea. And a lot of folks across the country recognize this is a smart thing to do not only for homeowners but for our economy, because if Paul and Val have an extra $240, $250 a month, then they might spend it on the local business.

“And that means more money in the economy, and businesses do better, and slowly home prices start rising again,” Obama said. “So it makes sense for all of us.

“There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t make this happen right now,” Obama said to a small crowd gathered on Ridgecrest Drive in north Reno. “If they started now, in a couple of weeks, in a month, they could make every homeowner in America who is underwater right now eligible to be able to refinance their homes – if they’re making their payments, if they’re responsible, if they’re doing the right thing.  And think about all those families saving $3,000 on average a year – that’s a huge boost to our economy.”

Obama said that since the announcement, refinancing applications have gone up by 50 percent nationwide and 230 percent in Nevada.

“That’s the good news,” he said. “People are taking advantage of this.”

Obama’s Nevada visit comes as he campaigns for a second term in the White House. He won Nevada in 2008, but with the highest unemployment rate and one of the highest home foreclosure rates in the nation, the state is considered to be a toss up.

His visit prompted a response from the Mitt Romney campaign by Nevada Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki.

In a conference call, Amodei and Krolicki said they do not want the president’s focus on the success of the Kellers to overshadow what they called his overall failing policies.

“How many people fit that profile?” Amodei asked about the Kellers. “When you look at the success of those policies, we are still in critical condition in relation to housing in Nevada.”

“I appreciate the fact that the president is coming to town and sitting in the living room with the Kellers, but it is not going to solve our problems,” Krolicki said. “We need a president that is encouraging job growth. The easiest cure for a foreclosure is a job.”

Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange released a statement praising Obama’s proposal: “The president’s mortgage refinancing plan would make a real difference to families nationwide and here in Nevada. This key piece of the president’s ‘To-Do List’ could help families save up to $3,000 a year, reducing foreclosures, boosting the economy, and speeding the recovery of the housing market.

“In contrast, Mitt Romney told Nevada families facing foreclosure they need to ‘hit the bottom’ and called for rolling back laws to protect families against the mortgage abuses that helped create the financial crisis,” she said.

But at least one news report has questioned whether the Kellers are the responsible homeowners as described by Obama. CNBC reported that the Kellers did a “cash out” refinancing in 2007 that helped put them in their current predicament.

It was Obama’s first visit to Reno since April 2011, but he has also visited Southern Nevada twice this year and First Lady Michelle Obama was in Las Vegas at a fundraiser last week.

He arrived in Reno after attending a fundraiser in California.

President Obama with Paul and Valerie Keller in Reno today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Obama hinted at the difficulties facing many Nevadans as he began his remarks, noting that “it is going to take a long time for the economy to fully recover. More time than any of us would like. But there are plenty of steps we can take to speed up the recovery right now.”

In addition to the refinancing program, he identified four other “common-sense policies” on Congress’s “To-Do” list that can help now in the economic recovery: end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, give small business owners tax breaks for hiring more workers and paying higher wages, extend tax credits for clean energy companies and create a Veterans Jobs Corps so that veterans can get work as police and firefighters.

Americans for Prosperity – Nevada (AFP-NV) today questioned Obama’s call that Congress extend certain clean energy tax credits, arguing they have a bad track record of creating jobs or promoting green energy technology.

“Hard working Nevada taxpayers want to know why the president continues to ignore the facts and waste their money on expensive, unproven ‘green energy’ boondoggles like Solyndra,” said Adam Stryker, state director of AFP-NV. “It’s time for the president to stop bowing to blind ideology and support real job creation.”

In his concluding remarks, Obama said: “I need all of you, and everybody who is watching, to push Congress on their “To-Do” list,” he said. “Nag them until they actually get it done. We need to keep moving this country forward. Send them an email. Tweet them. Write them a letter if you’re old-fashioned like me. But communicate to them that this will make a difference. It’s one small step that will help us create the kind of economy that all Americans deserve.”

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Audio clips:

President Obama says the refinancing program is good for the economy:

051112Obama1 :33 all of us.”

Obama says people are taking advantage of the program:

051112Obama2 :13 the good news.”

Obama says people need to tell Congress to get moving on the “To-Do” list;

051112Obama3 :35 all Americans deserve.”

 

 

 

In Redistricting Battle, Political Parties Argue Over “Who Loves Hispanics More”

By Andrew Doughman | 7:00 pm May 11th, 2011

CARSON CITY — A Republican Hispanic governor will soon decide the fate of a Democratic redistricting plan that has both political parties embroiled in a debate over fairness to Nevada’s Hispanic population.

Legislative Republicans, who voted against the plan, and Democrats are each claiming they truly have the best interests of Nevada’s largest minority population in mind as they consider the boundaries of new political districts.

As political columnist Jon Ralston asked on Twitter: “who loves Hispanics more?”

But some people in the Hispanic community object to the odes both parties are singing about fair political representation for the Latino community.

Is the Hispanic community being used?

“It’s quite obvious,” said Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan Nevada group Hispanics in Politics.

He said he does not like the Republican plan for Congressional districts because it lumps all Hispanics together in one big group. But he also does not like the Democratic plan, which he said fractures key Latino communities into different districts.

“We are throwing the Democratic plan out of the window,” he said.

Romero said that he and other Hispanic advocacy groups will introduce their own plan for Congressional and state Senate and Assembly districts by the end of this week.

At stake is the power of a new voter bloc comprising 26 percent of Nevada’s population and one of every seven voters in Nevada, a number that could be higher if historically low levels of voter registration in the Hispanic community improve.

The Latino factor also makes Nevada a “key state” during the 2012 presidential elections.

“When you consider we’re about to enter a presidential election year, the Hispanic community is a community everybody is eyeing,” said Javier Trujillo of the Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Political parties could spend millions in attempts to sway Hispanic voters to the left or right, but every 10 years politicians are free — in fact, mandated — to choose the voters themselves. That is their business this year as the Nevada Legislature embarks on the decadal ritual of redrawing political boundaries in accordance with U.S. Census demographic data.

So far, both parties have accused each other of violating the federal Voting Rights Act, which addresses redistricting rules for ethnic minorities, in favor of partisan gain.

“They’ve clearly put their partisan interests ahead of what is morally right for the Hispanic community, and they’ve violated federal law in the process,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas.

Democrats said nearly the same thing in a press release:

“Republicans opposed these maps on a party line vote while trying to mislead Nevadans on the purpose the Voting Right Act to mask their own partisan agenda.”

The Democratic plan passed out of the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday and now awaits Gov. Brian Sandoval’s signature or veto. It creates Congressional districts with Hispanic populations ranging between 20.5 and 33.6 percent of districts’ total populations.

A Republican proposal that did not receive a vote has Hispanics comprising between 14.4 percent and 50.7 percent of Congressional districts’ populations.

Republican Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 32.0% 45.5% 17.7% 9.9% 20.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 35.7% 16.6% 1.9% 20.4%
CD 03 675,138 0 40.8% 37.5% 12.2% 5.5% 14.4%
CD 04 675,137 -1 20.8% 57.8% 44.3% 14.2% 50.7%

Democratic Proposed Congressional Districts

District Population Deviation GOP% DEM% HVAP% BVAP% Total Hispanic%
CD 01 675,138 0 31.9% 47.9% na na 33.6%
CD 02 675,138 0 42.8% 36.0% na na 20.5%
CD 03 675,138 0 34.4% 44.1% na na 29.2%
CD 04 675,137 -1 35.0% 43.1% na na 22.9%


Nevada’s explosive population growth between 2001 and 2010 earned Nevada one more congressional district, giving Nevada four seats.

UNR political scientist Eric Herzik said during an interview today that behind the squabbling about numbers lies the political reality of the Hispanic vote.

“The issue is not whether the districts are in compliance with federal law,” he said. “This is politics, partisan politics. …They’re both about trying to maximize party influence in districts.”

He said minority groups, including Latinos, tend to vote Democratic.

During the 2010 election, Hispanics overwhelming voted for Democratic candidate Rory Reid in the gubernatorial race and incumbent Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in the Senate race.

“If you diffuse the Latino vote, you can create more Democratic-leaning votes,” he said.

Likewise, he said the Republican proposal to create a district with more than 50 percent Hispanic population is a “shield” and the Republican party’s public concern is not the “root of their complaint” with the Democratic proposal.

“It works better for them if they can give up one overwhelmingly Democratic district,” Herzik said.

The historical data, however, only goes so far.

Romero contended that Latinos are independent-minded and value fair representation over agreement with Democrats.

“If we did follow party lines we would support the plan the Democrats issued,” Romero said. “We don’t.”

 

 

Berkley Pollster Says Incumbent Advantage a Myth

By Elizabeth Crum | 10:33 am April 27th, 2011

On Sunday I wrote that Congressman Dean Heller stands to gain more than he risks losing should Governor Sandoval appoint him to John Ensign’s Senate seat this week.

Shelley Berkley pollster Mark Mellman yesterday disagreed, saying the incumbent advantage is somewhat of a myth when the subject is appointed rather than elected Senators. From his piece on The Hill:

It’s amazing how quickly some analysts jump to conclusions without any facts to break their fall. Discussions of Dean Heller’s potential appointment to John Ensign’s (R) Senate seat provide the latest example of fact-free commentary.

Talk about the “incumbent advantage” Rep. Heller (R) will gain by virtue of this appointment ignores the historical record, which makes clear that appointed incumbents gain no advantage. Telling titles of two academic treatises summarize the facts: “Treadmill to Oblivion: The Fate of Appointed Senators” and “The Electoral (Mis) Fortunes of Appointed Senators and the Source of Incumbency Advantage.”

Since popular election of senators began in 1913, 118 appointed senators sought election and just 62 — or 52.5 percent — won their seats. Nate Silver of Fivethirtyeight.com confines his analysis to Senate appointments since 1956 and finds that 51 percent won election.

An appointed senator has about the same odds of winning a coin flip as (s)he does of keeping his or her seat: about the same odds as an otherwise evenly matched race for an open seat.

Nate Silver’s 2008 analysis included a nice chart showing the 49 gubernatorial appointees since 1956 and the results of the subsequent elections. Many lost, and Silver noted that the numbers are far below the usual benchmarks for incumbent senators:

Since 1990, about 81% of incumbent senators have sought re-election, and among those have sought it, 88% have won it. By contrast, among the 80% of gubernatorial appointees since 1956 who chose to seek re-election, only 49% survived both the primary and the general election.

Mellman goes on to list the reasons for the low ROA (Return On Appointment) including well-qualified, well-funded challengers (usually other members of Congress), the fact that appointed Senators do not have the advantage of having introduced themselves to and defined themselves with voters (as they would had they run a campaign), and the fact that voters tend to prefer elections to having “a single individual stuffing a U.S. senator down their throats in a process that appears questionable.”

Mellman also refers to the 17th Amendment, which provides for popular election of senators, saying the Constitutional language makes it clear that elections are the proper way to fill a vacancy. From his piece:

“When vacancies happen … in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies.” A proviso was added to deal with the lag between the creation of the vacancy and the point at which an election was feasible: “the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election.” While some states require speedy specials or appointment of a caretaker, many take advantage of this loophole by waiting up to two years to hold the constitutionally mandated elections, but voters smell the rat and give no advantage to those acceding to office by appointment.

Analysts who thought Dean Heller would gain an advantage from his appointment would do well to consult a few facts in addition to their flawed assumptions.

I always pay data its due respect and did consult the statistics before writing my post, so my suggestion that Heller stands to gain from an appointment was not made in ignorance. Mellman is right that it guarantees the Congressman nothing and perhaps hurts him in the eyes of some voters, but those disgruntled voters–Democrats who this week clamored for an “open” selection process to include public hearings even though state law says it is the governor’s duty to choose Nevada’s next senator (and many of whom wouldn’t be complaining if the governor were a Democrat appointing a Democrat–were not going to vote for Dean Heller next year anyhow.

A recent PPP poll shows the Republicans will vote for Heller en masse (86%) and many independents (56%) say they are likely to do so as well. The survey shows Berkley has gained ground in the last four months — Heller is now up only 47-43 — but Heller’s favorables with independents and strong support from the GOP base are not likely to change much between now and next November.

In addition, Shelley Berkley is facing a primary challenge from the wealthy and outspoken Byron Georgiou who, unless he can be talked out of the race (and he says he cannot), is very likely to attack Berkley and drive up her negatives with the Democratic base as well as with independents. This will help Heller in the general election, presuming he is not also challenged in and damaged by the GOP primary next year.

Finally, as I said on Sunday, Senator Heller will gain more in the way of statewide name recognition than Congressman Heller (even without a campaign), not to mention the PR and fundraising advantage to be gained through use of the NRSC’s statewide mailing lists. In addition, Heller will open an office in southern Nevada which can then be used as a de facto campaign headquarters in order to build support in Clark County–where he needs it most.

If Heller is appointed and then loses to Berkley next fall, it will be less for the reasons Mellman mentions and more because the Nevada Democrats, who presently have a 60,000 statewide voter registration edge, did their usual bang-up job of getting out the vote with the added boost of energy that comes in every presidential election year.

 

Nevadans Would No Longer Elect State Board Of Education Under Proposal

By Andrew Doughman | 7:44 pm April 11th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Nevadans would no longer see education board representatives on their ballots if a proposal before the Legislature passes.

Assembly Bill 548, recommended by an education task force, would give the governor the power to appoint the superintendent and state board of education.

Proponents of the bill said it would drastically simplify Nevada’s current education system. The Nevada’s Promise task force members testifying today before a legislative education committee said that it would also make the governor more like the CEO for education.

“In any successful sports team, the same is true,” said Punam Mathur, vice president of human resources for NV Energy and a member of the task force. “It is clear somebody is in charge.”

The governor, with recommendations from the Senate Majority Leader and Speaker of the Assembly, would appoint three board members per year for three-year terms. The board would also shrink from 10 members to nine.

The governor would appoint the superintendent from a list of nominees drafted by the state board.

“We think that what we’re presenting to you has natural checks and balances in it so we can keep all the key leadership bodies in it fully involved and fully engaged,” Mathur said.

She said it makes a highly-visible elected official – the governor – more accountable to education.

Although Nevadans currently elect the state board representatives, lending those offices a degree of accountability, Mathur and others asked: How many Nevadans can name their state board representative?

Opponents to the bill said the bill would politicize the education system to the detriment of students. They also championed Nevadans’ ability to elect board members such as the Board of Regents that governs Nevada’s colleges and universities.

“Nevadans want to pick their judges just as they want to elect their state board,” said Craig Stevens, director of government relations for the Nevada State Education Association.

The teacher’s union representative said that the union liked most of the recommendations from the Nevada Promise task force. This one, however, would not necessarily help students learn more, Stevens said.

The bill enjoys support from some Democrats, although the Democratic caucus has been split over some education bills the Legislature is considering this session.

The Assembly Democratic caucus met for more than one hour before voting on education bills today, after which the vote showed several Democrats voting against the bills.

The committee took no immediate action on Assembly Bill 548.

If passed, the bill would create a fully-appointed board by Jan. 1, 2015. It would also eliminate the need for the Legislature to consider redrawing the districts voters use to elect their school board representatives. The Legislature must redistrict this year based on data from the 2010 Census.

 

State Parties Fight Hard Over High Stakes Senate Seats

By Sean Whaley | 4:34 pm October 28th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Senate Democrats are running a slate of candidates across the state in the hopes of winning a 14-seat, veto-proof majority for the upcoming 2011 session.

But Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he does not expect it to happen, and he has not discounted the possibility of the GOP winning the majority.

“It looks much more promising to me now than when we began this campaign,” he said. “We may have some surprises.”

Alisa Nave, executive director of the Nevada Senate Democrats, said the goal has been to recruit and support a quality group of candidates who can get to work immediately in Carson City, not win a supermajority.

“We want to elect good people to office who can continue what we started two years ago,” she said. “Nevada faces many challenges. No one caucus can solve our problems alone.”

But Republicans say Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, has made no secret of the fact he wants a veto-proof Democratic majority in 2011.

For Democrats to end up with 14 members, they need to hang on to the Clark 5 seat held by freshman Democrat incumbent Joyce Woodhouse, defeat long-time Republican Barbara Cegavske in the Clark 8 seat and win the open Clark 9 seat formerly held by Republican Dennis Nolan.

Republicans, for their part, are trying to gain ground on the Democrats, who took over the majority in the state Senate in the 2009 session for the first time since 1991. They are seeking to defeat Woodhouse, hold on to Cegavske’s seat and win the open seat to cut the margin for Democrats to only one.

Woodhouse is facing Republican Michael Roberson, Cegavske is facing Democrat Tammy Peterson and Republican Elizabeth Halseth is facing Democrat Benny Yerushalmi in the open Clark Senate 9 seat.

Halseth said the conciliatory words from Senate Democrats may have more to do with polls showing Republicans doing well in several races, including her own, than out of any desire to seek bipartisan cooperation in the 2011 session.

While Halseth said she has not seen poll results for her race, contributions to her campaign have increased in recent days, suggesting her numbers are good.

“I’m very hopeful,” she said. “Our three races are very important. The Democrats are certainly not holding anything back.”

Registration Edge May Not Matter in Anti-Incumbent Year

Democrats have a 12-9 edge right now and they have a registration edge in all three Southern Nevada districts, although the margins in two are thin and nonpartisan voters will play a role in all three races.

Clark 5 has a registration edge for Democrats of 46,910 to 45,280 for Republicans with just over 19,000 nonpartisans, according to statistics from the secretary of state’s office. Clark 8 has 19,352 Democrats, 18,899 Republicans and 7,674 nonpartisan voters. Clark 9 has 55,120 Democrats, 51,899 Republicans and 23,721 nonpartisans.

Other races potentially are in play as well.

Raggio said he believes the race in Washoe 1 to replace Democrat Bernice Mathews is in play despite the heavy Democratic voter registration edge. Democratic Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie is facing Republican and Sparks City Councilman Phil Salerno in the race.

Democrats have nearly 18,000 voters in the district compared to just under 8,700 Republicans, with another 6,257 nonpartisans.

“I’m not sure party registration means a hell of a lot,” Raggio said. “There is an anti-incumbency feeling. There are a lot of independents. It’s not going to be the Democratic tsunami that it was two years ago.”

Nave said Democrats are also seeking victory in the open seat in Clark 12 formerly held by Republican Warren Hardy and the open Washoe 2 seat held by outgoing Republican Maurice Washington. Democrat Aaron Ford, an attorney and former high school math teacher, is facing Republican Assemblyman Joe Hardy, a physician in the Clark 12 race, while Democrat Allison Edwards, also a former teacher, is facing GOP Assemblyman Don Gustavson.

Veto-proof Two House Supermajority at Stake

With Democrats expecting to maintain their majority in the Assembly, the battle for control in the Senate has taken on added significance.

Assembly Democrats now have a veto-proof 28-14 edge over Republicans and they are trying to hold on to and even build on that significant advantage. Republicans are seeking to hold on to their current number and pick up at least one more seat to take away the supermajority.

The 2011 session will see debates over taxes and the budget, as well as the redrawing of state legislative district boundaries. Both Democrats and Republicans will have to live with any redistricting plan for a decade, making control of the Legislature even more critical for both parties.

If Democrats gain a two-thirds majority in both houses, they will also have the power to override the vetoes of seven bills by outgoing Gov. Jim Gibbons, including a measure giving state employees some bargaining rights on non-economic issues. The bills were vetoed after the end of the 2009 session and will return to lawmakers next year.

Assembly Bill 395 would let state employees bargain over working conditions. Another vetoed measure, Senate Bill 376, would expand the scope of projects to be considered by the state labor commissioner in setting prevailing wage rates, a change that Gibbons said would increase the cost of county public works projects.

If Democrats win a supermajority in both houses, it would also make it difficult for Brian Sandoval, the Republican candidate for governor favored to win over Democrat Rory Reid, to pursue his agenda.

Cegavske said it is critical for Republicans to win seats to ensure cooperation and compromise.

“You want a balance,” she said. “I see extreme partisanship in the Senate now and that’s not good for the people of Nevada.”

Raggio said Senate Republicans must be relevant in the critical redistricting debate. Republicans will be seeking an expansion of the size of the Legislature to ensure continued representation in northern and rural Nevada, he said.

While there is Democratic opposition in Southern Nevada to expanding the Legislature, Raggio said it is one of those key demands that will require agreement before other issues will be decided.

Attack Ads, Negative Mailers Flood Key Districts

The state Senate races are being fiercely contested.

Woodhouse and Roberson recently participated in a televised debate, discussing attack ads and the budget.

Cegavske, who is facing a challenge from Peterson, an attorney, said she has been the focus of numerous attacks in the mail from the Democratic Party, but in a recent interview indicated she would not be responding in kind.

“I’m taking the high road,” Cegavske said. “Voters want to hear what the candidate is going to do, what their vision is for the state. The number one issue is the economy and jobs. Voters want to know what I can do to help bring business to the state, not tell them how bad somebody is.”

Cegavske, a former small business owner, said raising taxes as many legislative leaders have suggested, won’t help small business. The state needs to live within its means, not build a budget then raise taxes to support it, she said.

Nevada needs to bring in companies that will give Nevadans jobs, Cegavske said. The Legislature can offer incentives to get firms to relocate, she said.

Peterson did not return calls seeking comment.

Nolan lost in the Republican primary to Halseth, a small business owner who is facing Yerushalmi, who runs the family business in Las Vegas.

Halseth said she is seeing a number of attack ads in her campaign as well, but is focusing on her own qualifications.

“I’m not trashing my opponent,” she said. “People are tired of hit pieces, they want solutions. That’s what we’re focusing on.”

Yerushalmi did not return calls seeking comment.

Assembly Democratic Caucus Campaign Report Provokes GOP Criticism, Response From Majority Leader

By Sean Whaley | 7:33 am October 28th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The state Assembly’s Democratic Caucus failed to disclose more than $120,000 in donations from its own members earlier this year, but a Democratic leader says they weren’t legally required to do so.

A dozen Assembly Democrats chipped in the funds in the first five months of this year, according to a review of the individual lawmakers’ campaign expenditure reports. But the donations weren’t disclosed by the caucus on its June 1 financial filing to the state.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said the donations were made to reimburse the caucus for salaries of legislators’ staff and to pay the legislators’ dues in the caucus.

“All we have to report is our contributions,” he said. “To be more transparent, we should report everything but we’re not required to do it by law.”

He cited a 1998 legal interpretation from the secretary of state that said that the donations count as reimbursements and aren’t contributions required to be reported by the caucus.

The Nevada News Bureau was not able to immediately obtain a copy of the interpretation.

Oceguera said he has decided to change that policy, effective immediately, to report expenses as well.

The initial explanation was questioned, however, by Nevada State Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei, an attorney and former state Senator from Carson City.

When told Assembly Democrats have an interpretation from the secretary of state’s office that was the basis for their reporting decisions, Amodei said: “That statement bears no resemblance to the applicable statutes.”

Nevada revised statutes on campaign practices do not use the word reimbursement, he said.

“If it’s an expense, it’s an expense,” he said. “There is no ethics opinion out there that says reimbursements don’t count. This caucus does not have a real strong track record looking back at what has occurred in recent history, when you see what members have used their campaign funds for.”

Outgoing Assemblywoman Kathy McClain, D-Las Vegas, agreed earlier this year to make a $7,276 personal contribution to Safe Nest, a Las Vegas nonprofit supporting abused women, to cover the cost of the contribution she had made in 2009 to the Public Employees Retirement System from her campaign fund. The donation resolved a complaint filed with the secretary of state’s office that she inappropriately used campaign funds to pay for her Clark County retirement contributions while serving as a lawmaker.

Amodei said the real question is why the caucus felt the need to seek an advisory opinion on the issue in the first place.

Oceguera forwarded an email from Tuesday, a day before an inquiry was made about the caucus campaign report, saying he wants the operating expenses disclosed in the future. He directed staff to file an amended report for the second reporting period listing all operating expenses and to ensure future reports include the information as well. The filing deadline for the second report was Tuesday.

“Each caucus member has met the requirements for reporting as has the caucus,” Oceguera said. “However, I believe the caucus can do more, and should. We will file the amended reports quickly, beginning with an amendment to the October 26th report which I expect to have soon.

“I want to emphasize that are in full compliance, and always have been,” he said. “I believe we can go above and beyond that compliance in the public interest, and I’ve directed that we do so.”

Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said as a member of the Elections, Procedures, Ethics and Constitutional Amendments Committee for two sessions, he frequently heard calls for more openness in the reporting process.

“Unfortunately, it seems actions are much different than words,” he said.

Settelmeyer, who is running for a seat in the state Senate, said the Assembly Democratic Caucus reports signed by Oceguera clearly are incomplete.

“We’re all trying to be more transparent,” he said. “Obviously, even with the current rules we have, we lack some transparency.”

The campaign reports show that members of the Assembly Democratic caucus reported their caucus expenses on their campaign reports, but the expenses are not reflected on the caucus reports.

Oceguera, for example, reported three payments this year to the Assembly Democratic Caucus totaling more than $31,000 that were not reported on the caucus report. The payments were recorded on Oceguera’s campaign contribution and expense report filed June 1 as employee and miscellaneous expenses.

Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, contributed $10,548 to the caucus according to her campaign contribution and expense report. Again, the expenditure by the candidate was not reported as a contribution by the caucus.

Ten other Assembly Democrats made similar payments identified as campaign expenses, all of which they identified on their reports but none of which were reported by the caucus.

The unreported contributions from lawmakers total more than $122,000.

The first 2010 caucus report did reflect nearly $110,000 in contributions from other individuals and entities, and was signed by Oceguera on May 31.

The caucus’ 2009 annual report covering activity during the off-election year shows a similar situation, with nearly $90,000 in payments from Assembly Democrats not included. Again, Oceguera and other Assembly Democrats reported expenses to the caucus that were not reported as contributions on the caucus annual report.

A review of the dates of the 2009 contributions shows that over $17,000 was sent by lawmakers to their caucus during a blackout period when the organization cannot accept contributions.

Members of the Legislature as well as their political caucuses are prohibited from accepting contributions starting 30 days before a regular legislative session to 30 days after the end of a session according to Nevada law.

Oceguera said because the expenses identified by lawmakers are reimbursements, they do not fall under the contribution prohibitions.

Contributions or expenses in excess of $100 must be reported by candidates and caucuses as well as political action committees.

The reporting issues have come up just as candidates are in the final days of the hotly contested 2010 campaign. Assembly Democrats are trying to keep their 28-14 supermajority, while Republicans are seeking enough seats to take away their two-thirds edge.

Fiery Nevada Secretary Of State Debate Focuses On Past Allegations

By Sean Whaley | 9:08 pm October 13th, 2010

Update (Nov. 3, 2011): The battery charges against Rob Lauer were dismissed this week.

Update (Jan. 22, 2011): Former Nevada secretary of state candidate Rob Lauer has filed a libel and defamation lawsuit against the woman who accused him of battery. At issue are some of her statements made to the media and to our editor (and that were subsequently included in blog posts on this website).

*

Original story

A debate today between Democrat Secretary of State Ross Miller and his Republican opponent Rob Lauer spent most of the time on past controversies, including Lauer’s alleged assault of a woman in a bar and Miller’s track record of prosecution as a Clark County deputy district attorney.

In one of the more fiery debates on the Face To Face television program hosted by Jon Ralston, the discussion started with an ad being run by Miller on Lauer’s alleged attack of a woman in a Las Vegas bar in June of this year. It also touched on an arrest of Lauer involving a business deal.

Lauer complained that the bar incident is being pushed for political reasons, while Miller countered that Lauer is facing misdemeanor charges in the case where he allegedly assaulted longtime Clark County GOP activist Jennifer von Tobel. Von Tobel filed a police report in the matter.

Lauer said he was contacted by an attorney representing Von Tobel seeking money to “make it go away” and that he would not cut a deal. Lauer declined to name the attorney.

Lauer’s arrest in California on a charge of grand theft involving the sale of an aircraft was also discussed.

Lauer said his accuser lied to the police and the charges have been dismissed. Lauer said he now has a case against his accuser for perjury.

“So at what point am I determined to be innocent,” he asked.

Miller acknowledged Lauer has not been convicted of a crime but said the ad is intended to show the differences between himself and his opponent.

“There is a sharp contrast in this race,” he said. “This is a very important position. And we’re treating this as if it was a job interview. And I as a former criminal prosecutor have a background that I’m very proud of. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in this office. And obviously one of the things that I think needs to be highlighted is my opponent’s background.”

For his part, Lauer criticized Miller’s performance in a Clark County criminal case, where he let an “axe murder” out of jail with a plea bargain that was questioned by a judge.

“So his record as a prosecutor, frankly is troubling,” Lauer said.

Miller said the case involved a man named Billy Merritt who had a troubled criminal history. Miller said he inherited a case involving Merritt that was years old and the witnesses to the crime could not be produced. Miller said a plea deal was agreed to by the entire district attorney’s office.

Merritt was the shooter in the infamous “show and tell” case where a man was lured to the desert and killed. After his release from prison Merritt was charged with attempting to kill a man with a hatchet.

It was this case that Miller prosecuted.

“I have an outstanding record as a criminal prosecutor,” Miller said.

Lauer said also he has evidence of voter fraud that has not investigated by Miller.

Miller said he has cracked down on voter fraud against ACORN, a Democratic organization charged with crimes from the 2008 general election. A trial in the case is still pending, which Lauer said is intentional to get the matter postponed until after the Nov. 2 general election.

Lauer said he has evidence of, “a lot of people who are voting who don’t exist and I have a record of that.”

Miller said he will investigate any voter fraud allegations if there is evidence to support such claims but that he won’t chase unfounded claims.

“But we’ll absolutely look into the allegations and if they have merit we’ll go after them,” he said.

Audio clips:

Secretary of State Ross Miller says Lauer’s background is an issue in the race:

101310Miller1 :15 my opponent’s background.”

Lauer says the assault allegation is politically motivated:

101310Lauer1 :21 I do not.”

Lauer says he has evidence of voter fraud that Miller has not investigated:

101310Lauer2 :04 that possibly be.”

Miller says he will investigate voter fraud if the allegations have merit:

101310Miller2 :07 go after them.”

Nevada Secretary Of State Files His Campaign Contribution And Expense Report Early

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 1:25 pm October 13th, 2010

(Updated at 3:20 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2010)

CARSON CITY – As he said he would, Secretary of State Ross Miller has filed his campaign contribution and expense report two weeks ahead of the deadline and several days before early voting begins for the Nov. 2 general election.

Miller has proposed legislation for the next session to improve the campaign reporting process, and voluntarily chose to post his report early as a way of showing his willingness to comply with revised rules that would make the information more useful to the public.

“Part of the resistance to comprehensive campaign finance reform last legislative session was that we kept hearing from incumbents that it was just too cumbersome and difficult to comply with what we were asking in terms of filing the reports early and electronically,” he said. “And so in order to prove a point I filed my report electronically this year so that the voters will have access to it prior to early voting which begins this Saturday.”

Current law requires the reports to be filed by candidates on Oct. 26, well after early voting has already begun. Early voting starts Oct. 16. More than half of all Nevadans voted early in the 2008 election.

Miller has requested legislation to move up the filing dates for the contribution and expense reports and then require updates. He also wants reports filed electronically so they can be easily searched by the public.

Miller will also file an updated report by the Oct. 26 deadline as required in state law.

Miller’s report, filed Tuesday, shows he collected nearly $85,000 in monetary contributions in excess of $100 in this second reporting period, with a total so far for the election season of just under $277,000. He also reports spending nearly $70,000 in the current reporting period and nearly $179,000 for the election season to date.

The second required report covers the period from May 28 to Oct. 21, although Miller’s initial filing does not extend to the full reporting period.

Miller received about 80 contributions, including $4,500 from NV Energy, $5,000 from the Searchlight Leadership Fund operated by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., $5,000 from the gaming manufacturer IGT, and $5,000 from the Nevada Realtors Political Action Committee, among others.

On the expenditure side, Miller reported a contribution of $10,000 to his own legal defense fund, formed after an ethics complaint was filed against him earlier this year by the state Republican Party alleging he used his official office for campaign purposes and used a public service announcement about the census to promote his re-election campaign. The complaint was rejected by a panel of the commission.

Audio clip:

Secretary of State Ross Miller said he filed his campaign report early to show that it is not burdensome:

101310Miller :25 begins this Saturday.”

Nevada State Controller, Republican Challenger Debate As Early Voting Looms

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 8:52 pm October 12th, 2010

Barry Herr, the Republican candidate challenging state Controller Kim Wallin in the November general election, said today he would bring a GOP point of view to the office and use the position to bring conservative influence to the discussion of taxes and other issues.

Wallin, running as a Democrat for a second term in the office, said the position overseeing the state’s checkbook is also about finding waste and inefficiencies, a job she has pursued over the past four years.

The two candidates discussed their positions and issues on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program.

While the controller position does not have a say in tax policy, Herr said he would use the position as a “bully pulpit” to influence any such discussions in the Legislature. Herr said he opposes any proposal for a personal or corporate income tax.

“I believe that as the controller I will also be able to perhaps give some influence up there,” he said. “And I do believe that I can give that, again, that fiscal conservative bent.”

Herr said he would also look at ways to save money in the office.

As part of her debt collection efforts, Wallin has posted the names of debtors and the amounts they owe to the state on her newly designed website as a way of recovering outstanding funds.

“And the debts that we have, actually when we told some of the debtors we were going to start publishing it, we did actually get some payments” she said.

Wallin says she has also been nonpartisan in the job, providing information to Republicans and Democrats on an impartial basis.

“If you are doing your job right as controller, it’s not being a liberal or conservative,” she said.

On the issue of transparency, Wallin said she supports the concept but expressed concerns about the potential for identity theft in the disclosure of such information. There are examples of where this information has been used in identity theft crimes in other states to steal millions, she said.

Herr said much of the state’s checkbook is online on the governor’s transparency website, but that the information is incomplete and difficult to find. The information should be on the controller’s website, he said.

Wallin said Gov. Jim Gibbons decided to pursue his own transparency website despite the fact that her office could have done the same for less money.

 Early voting begins Saturday.

Audio clips:

Controller Kim Wallin says she has worked to collect outstanding debts:

101210Wallin :13 and filing fees.”

Controller candidate Barry Herr said he would use the job to bring a GOP influence to issues:

101210Herr :28 fiscal conservative bent.”

GOP State Treasurer Candidate, Treasurer’s Office Accuse Each Other Of Playing Politics

By Sean Whaley | 6:08 pm October 6th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Republican state treasurer candidate Steve Martin said today the Democratic incumbent is playing politics by delaying a discussion involving an unprecedented $50 million investment loss until after the Nov. 2 general election.

Martin, a member of the state Board of Finance which oversees the investment policies of Treasurer Kate Marshall’s office, said a meeting of the board scheduled for Oct. 12 has been cancelled and rescheduled for Nov. 9, a week after the election.

Martin said he anticipated the October meeting would include a discussion of potential changes to Nevada state law to clarify how to write off the $50 million Lehman Brothers loss, which occurred in September 2008 when the financial services firm filed for bankruptcy protection.

“Essentially there won’t be any more discussion at the board with regards to what was lost, how it was lost or the write off of the interest over 4.5 years (until after the election),” Martin said.

Martin, a certified public accountant from Las Vegas, is challenging Marshall, an attorney from Reno, for the treasurer’s job.

Steve George, chief of staff to Marshall, said Martin is the one playing politics by continuing to focus on an issue that has been publicly discussed and resolved. All of Martin’s questions have been answered but he continues to raise the Lehman Brothers matter for political gain, George said.

Martin said he believes politics are involved in the delay of the Finance Board meeting. The less said about the $50 million loss, the better for Marshall, he said.

The investment loss, some of which may yet be recouped, has resulted in lost interest income to 170 different state agency accounts and programs, from the cash-strapped Millennium Scholarship to the state self-funded health insurance plan, Martin said.

Martin said he continues to have questions about the plan to write off these interest income losses to the agencies and programs over a 4.5-year period. He also cited a September letter from Robin Reedy, chief of staff to Gov. Jim Gibbons, expressing the need for the treasurer’s office to provide more information about the write off.

It isn’t the first time Marshall has avoided a discussion of the loss, he said. In July the treasurer’s office got an attorney general’s legal opinion saying the issue was not within the purview of the Finance Board’s authority after Martin asked for a discussion of the issue.

“And I think it just shows a lack of transparency,” he said. “Frankly, trying to hide the fact that they lost the $50 million, the less said the better they are.”

George said Nevada’s Lehman loss was only a part of $3 billion in losses to states, counties and municipalities across the country when the firm filed for bankruptcy.

Marshall has said there was no warning ahead of time the firm would file for bankruptcy.

George said the October Finance Board meeting was cancelled after board members were queried and there were no items for discussion. Gov. Jim Gibbons is chairman of the board and sets the agenda, not the treasurer’s office, he said.

George provided a copy of a July 2010 letter sent to Reedy that he says shows that every question raised by Martin about the issue has already been answered. The issue was also fully discussed at the Finance Board’s July 12, 2009 meeting, he said.

Martin did not join the board until later.

“The Board of Finance has been involved in this from the beginning,” George said.

George also noted that both legislative fiscal staff and the state budget director were made aware of the plan to write off the loss over 4.5 years.

“Steve Martin seems to want to keep pushing this issue, funny enough close to election time that he keeps pushing this issue, which is a nonissue,” he said.

Martin has claimed that Marshall should have known about the Lehman collapse before hand, but has acknowledged his own clients lost money in the 2008 financial meltdown, George said.

“So I’m a little surprised his clients lost money if he had all the answers,” George said

Audio clips:

State treasurer candidate Steve Martin says any further discussion of the $50 million Lehman loss has been put off until after the election:

100610Martin1 :10 a half years.”

Martin says the less said about the loss by the treasurer, the better for her:

100610Martin2 :10 better they are.”

Steve George, chief of staff for Marshall, says all of Martin’s questions have been answered:

100610George1 :09 is a nonissue.”

George says Martin lost money for his clients in the 2008 financial meltdown:

100610George2 :12 all the answers.”

Parties Focus On Get-out-the-Vote Effort As Campaign Season Hits Critical Point

By Sean Whaley | 9:38 am October 4th, 2010

CARSON CITY – With the Nevada campaign season kicking into high gear in the four weeks remaining before election day, candidates and their supporters are also starting to focus on what could mean the difference between victory and defeat: voter turnout.

Both those running for office and political observers agree that many of Nevada’s races could be close, particularly the U.S. Senate race pitting Harry Reid against GOP challenger Sharron Angle.

Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., predicted a few weeks ago the Reid-Angle race will be determined by as few as 5,000 votes.

There are also concerns about who or “what” will draw votes in some races. In statewide races in Nevada, voters can opt for “none of these candidates.” Disaffected voters could opt for this choice in the U.S. Senate race, or for governor and the other constitutional officers.

And unless a pending legal challenge is successful, Nevadans will also be able to vote for Nevada Tea Party candidate Scott Ashjian.

Some Republicans have expressed concerns that both of these options could spell trouble for Angle in her bid to defeat the Senate Majority leader.

So get-out-the-vote efforts are under way in earnest with early voting set to begin in just about two weeks. Nearly 60 percent of those who voted in the 2008 general election in Nevada chose to vote early rather than on election day. Early voting runs from Oct. 16 to Oct. 29.

The Clark County Republican Party is actively recruiting more precinct captains to help walk in gated communities, as well as volunteers to help with phone banking.

“We have less than three weeks until early voting begins, and we need to reach as many of the Clark County voters as possible before October 16,” said an email from county Chairman Frank Ricotta.

Democrats are working to get out the vote as well. The Reid campaign is urging all Democrats to be sure to register to vote. Saturday was the deadline for voters to register online in Clark County or by mail statewide, but voters have until Oct. 12 to register in person.

“Time is running out, and it’s crucial to make sure our fellow Democrats are registered to vote,” the Reid campaign said.

Democrats are working the phone banks as well. On Friday, Lilly Ledbetter, the namesake of an equal pay measure signed into law by President Obama in 2009, made calls on behalf of Reid in Sparks.

While the Reid-Angle race is garnering the most attention, both parties are working hard in other races as well, particularly in state legislative contests where there is much at stake.

In the Assembly, Democrats now have a veto-proof 28-14 majority, and they are seeking to hold on to that advantage. Republicans want to pick up at least one seat to give then 15 votes, enough to block a tax increase or veto override.

In the Senate, Democrats are seeking to strengthen their majority of 12 to 14 where they too would hold a veto-proof majority. Republicans are seeking to hold on to their existing seats and pick up one more.

With a huge budget challenge and the potential for new taxes, as well as the once-a-decade process of drawing new political boundaries, major issues will confront lawmakers in the upcoming 2011 legislative session.

Turnover in the state Legislature will also be significant as term limits have kicked in for many incumbents. The Senate will see at least nine new members and the Assembly, 20.

Seats where Republicans see a chance to pick up a seat and that Democrats want to retain include: Assembly District 5, now held by freshman Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop; District 10, now held by Democrat Joe Hogan; District 21, held by freshman Democrat Ellen Spiegel; District 29, held by freshman Democrat April Mastroluca; District 40, an open seat in Carson City; and the Clark Senate 5 seat held by freshman Democrat Joyce Woodhouse.

Seats Republicans hope to hold onto, and where Democrats see a chance for a pickup include: Assembly District 13, an open seat formerly held by Republican Chad Christensen; District 23, held by freshman Republican Melissa Woodbury; Clark Senate 8, held by Republican Barbara Cegavske; and Clark Senate 9, an open seat formerly held by Republican Dennis Nolan.

Nolan was defeated in the GOP primary in June by primary challenger Elizabeth Halseth, who now faces Democrat Benny Yerushalmi. Nolan was one of only 19 state Senate incumbents in 43 states nationwide to lose in a primary this year.

Even those favored to win continue to campaign on a daily basis, and some are picking up financial support.

Republican Jodi Stephens is seeking the open Assembly 32 seat in Sparks formerly held by Republican Don Gustavson, who is running for a state Senate seat. A number of lobbyists and businesses are holding a fundraiser for Stephens and Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, in Reno next week.

Stephens is facing fellow Republican Ira Hansen in the race. No other candidates filed. Goicoechea is facing Democrat John O’Connor.

John Wagner, the Independent American Party candidate for secretary of state, said several IAP candidates are working hard to win in November. Janine Hansen, running for the Assembly District 33 seat in Elko, and Stan Vaughan, running for the Assembly District 15 seat, are two of the party’s stronger candidates, he said.

Jeff Durbin, a candidate for Clark County Commission in District F, is also running a good campaign, Wagner said.

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.

Rep. Dean Heller Says Reid-Angle Race Likely To Be Determined By 5,000 Votes

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 2:09 pm August 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., said today he believes the race between U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP challenger Sharron Angle will come down to 5,000 votes.

Heller said he believes most voters have already made up their minds about which candidate they will support in November, “I just don’t know which way it’s going to end up.”

But Heller, in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said also that both Reid and Angle have time to “change their message” or “invent themselves” if necessary.

Heller said Angle can win but she has an uphill climb against Reid, who has a well run campaign machine that is in full gear.

“Sharron has her work cut out for her but I think there is plenty of time for her to be successful,” he said.

Heller also sidestepped a question about his political ambitions in 2012, saying he is focused on getting re-elected to another term in Congressional District 2. Heller said he does not know if embattled incumbent Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., intends to seek re-election.

Both Heller and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., are considered potential candidates for the seat.

“This is not a safe time to take your election for granted,” Heller said. “So we’re going to work on this election and worry about some senate race down the road at a future time.”

___

Audio clips:

Heller says Sharron Angle can beat Reid but she has work cut out for her:

082510Heller1 :15 to be successful.”

Heller says Reid-Angle will come down to 5,000 votes:

082510Heller2 :11 to 5,000 votes.

Today’s Battle ’10 Posts on NRO

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:16 pm August 2nd, 2010

Here are my most recent National Review Online blog items, Dear Readers:

http://www.nationalreview.com/battle10/state/Nevada

Headlines:

  • Hating Harry (bonus materials:  video of a money quote from Ralston)
  • Nevada’s “None of the Above” option could help Harry Reid (includes money quote from Ryan Erwin)
  • Sandoval “Hispanic” scandal (or is it?)
  • Sandoval leads Rory by…we’re not sure (battle of the polls)
  • Angle-Reid in dead heat
  • Rory emerges from polling abyss, says Rasmussen (bonus materials: funny ad)

Since you can’t drop comments over there, feel free to drop them here instead.

Brian Sandoval Claims To Be Negotiating Debate Schedule, Rory Reid Campaign Says Untrue

By Sean Whaley | 3:24 pm July 13th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Republican and front-running governor candidate Brian Sandoval said today voters can expect to see him debate Democrat Rory Reid three times this fall in advance of the November general election.

Sandoval, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said he is still in negotiations with Reid over a debate schedule, but that three debates in the different regions of the state should provide voters with the opportunity they need to evaluate the candidates.

“I think that will be sufficient,” he said.

Sandoval’s comments took the Reid camp by surprise.

Reid spokesperson Mike Trask said Sandoval has been “hiding” and that there has been no communication between the two campaigns regarding a debate schedule.

“We’ve been chasing Brian Sandoval around the state,” said Trask. “Clearly he is buying time.”

Reid has accepted any and all offers to debate his opponent while Sandoval has turned down at least seven opportunities to do so, he said.

Reid had on a prior NewsMakers program challenged Sandoval to one debate a month through election day.

Reid also recently challenged Sandoval to debate him monthly on Jon Ralston’s statewide television program Face to Face.  Sandoval has said he will not agree to even one debate on the program, according to Face to Face executive producer Dana Gentry.

Sandoval has a substantial lead over Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission, according to different poll results.

Sandoval is a former federal judge who stepped down from a lifetime appointment to the bench to run for governor. He defeated incumbent GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons in the June Republican primary.

On the program, Sandoval was also challenged on how he will balance the upcoming budget if elected governor. Gibbons has estimated the budget will have a shortfall of as much as $3.5 billion.

Sandoval reiterated that any budget plan cannot rely on new taxes, and noted that the shortfall may not be as severe as has been reported so far. A report from legislative staff shows the state is bringing in more money than expected, he said.

Sandoval says the deficit will range somewhere between $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion. But it will have to be addressed through spending reductions, he said.

“I think in this environment in a recession that raising taxes would be the worst thing that we can do,” he said.

Asked how he can balance the budget without raising taxes, Sandoval said the state has to reduce spending.

“We have to look at the spending side, that is exactly what I’m going to do,” he said.

Sandoval said teacher layoffs will not be part of any plan he devises to balance the budget.

With Nevada leading the nation in unemployment at 14 percent, the worst move would be to lay people off, he said.

___

Audio clips:

Sandoval on debate schedule:

071310Sandoval1 :8 will be sufficient.”

Sandoval on budget deficit:

071310Sandoval2 : 27 can’t afford it.”

Sandoval on suggestion of layoffs:

071310Sandoval3 :19 lay people off.”