Posts Tagged ‘Greg Brower’

State Senate Candidate Advocates New Corporate Profits Tax In Debate, GOP Opponent Says Call Is Premature

By Sean Whaley | 2:50 pm September 26th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Former state Sen. Sheila Leslie drew a clear contrast with her Republican opponent Sen. Greg Brower in the District 15 race in Washoe County in a debate today, calling for a corporate profits tax to generate enough revenue to adequately fund education.

Gov. Brian Sandoval’s proposal to extend a package of sunsetting taxes into the next budget to avoid any further cuts to education won’t provide enough revenue, she said in a debate with Brower on the Nevada NewsMakers television program.

The Washoe County School District will have to cut $50 million next year even if the sunsetting taxes are continued, she said.

“All the surrounding states have that kind of a tax,” Leslie said. “Utah is the lowest at 5 percent. We could have a 1 or 2 percent tax and still be the lowest. We could phase out the modified business tax, which is a job killer. And we could lower the sales tax, eventually.”

Former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Brower said he supports extending the sunsetting taxes, but said talk of new taxes is premature.

“Including the tax revenue that was to sunset as revenue that we will or may have as we build the budget is the only common sense thing to do,” he said. “Otherwise we have a $700 million hole in the budget and we just can’t fill that, especially if we are not going to cut education further, which I think is absolutely critical.”

The debate, which went off without any fireworks, involves a state Senate seat considered critical by both Democrats and Republicans as they seek to control the 21-member house for the 2013 legislative session. Democrats now have an 11-10 majority. The 42-member Assembly is expected to remain in Democratic control.

In an unusual political move, Leslie resigned her Senate 1 seat to run against Brower in the new District 15. Brower was appointed to the Senate in District 3 to fill out the term of the late Sen. Bill Raggio. The new district, the result of redistricting based on the 2010 census, has a Republican voter registration edge of 39.8 percent to 37.9 percent for Democrats as of the end of August.

Brower said it would be better to have Republicans control the Senate because the party is more pro-business. Republicans will also do more to further public education reform and work to reform the collective bargaining process, which is crippling local governments, he said.

Democrats came along “kicking and screaming” in their support the 2011 education reforms, Brower said.

State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

Leslie said having Democrats in control has ensured that Nevada has not had to deal with “horrible legislation” that has been seen in other states such as voter suppression efforts and hard-line anti-immigration measures.

Sandoval is a Republican so there is balance, she said.

“And as to the education reforms, those came out of the Democratic Assembly, they were the ones who brought forth the reforms, so it’s not true that Democrats don’t ever want to reform anything,” Leslie said.

Having said that, Leslie said the 2013 Legislature needs to look at properly funding education and retaining the best teachers, not pursuing further reforms. The 2011 reforms, including a new teacher evaluation process, have not even had a chance to take effect yet, she said.

Brower said he would like to see more choice for parents in picking schools and have the state give up some of its control to the local school boards. The best teachers also need to be paid more, he said.

The two candidates will also debate Friday on the Face to Face television show.


Audio clips:

Senate 15 candidate Sheila Leslie says she would support the creation of a corporate profits tax to adequately fund public education:

092612Leslie1 :14 sales tax, eventually.”

Candidate Greg Brower says such talk is premature:

092612Brower1 :21 talking about that.”

Brower says a Republican-controlled Senate would be more pro-business and allow for more education and collective bargaining reforms:

092612Brower2 :15 in the Legislature.”

Leslie says having Democrats in control has kept Nevada from passing bad legislation:

092612Leslie2 :17 to reform anything.”


Lawmakers Long On Ideas, But Public Education Funding Options Remain Elusive

By Sean Whaley | 5:31 am September 18th, 2012

RENO – Northern Nevada state lawmakers and candidates in the November general election identified a number of public education priorities at a forum here Monday, from ending social promotion to paying the best performing teachers more to making much-needed capital improvements to older Washoe County schools.

But those participating in the event held at Reno High School at the invitation of the nonpartisan group Parent Leaders for Education had few specifics about where funding to implement the ideas will come from when the Legislature convenes next February.

Sen. Greg Brower, left, Assemblyman Pat Hickey, and former Sen. Sheila Leslie, far right, participated in a candidate forum in Reno on Monday. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Those participating included Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and former Sen. Sheila Leslie, a Democrat challenging Brower for the new District 15 seat. Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, who is not up for reelection, also participated, as did Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, who is running unopposed for another term in District 25.

The panel was rounded out with two Assembly Democrats running for new terms and their Republican opponents. David Bobzien faces Heidi Waterman in District 24 and Teresa Benitez-Thompson faces Tom Taber in District 27.

Several of the participants identified the need to find revenue to repair and renovate the Washoe County School District’s older schools as the top priority for the delegation next year.

Kieckhefer said those studying the issue are seeking about $15 million to $20 million annually in revenue that could be used to make repairs to more than half of the district’s schools that are more than 30 years old and are in need of major repairs.

Brower said Washoe County lawmakers are working toward a solution to repair the county’s schools and sell the proposal to Southern Nevada lawmakers who will ultimately have to support any funding option.

“It will be the best investment I think we can make in our schools in Washoe County for decades to come,” he said.

Leslie issued a note of caution to those attending the forum, saying past experience has shown that even bipartisan priorities, such as finding revenue to repair older schools, can be derailed in a legislative session.

“And I don’t want to sound like a cynic, but I’ve been through it several times,” Leslie said. “And so I think meetings like this where you put people on the spot, and I’m willing to be put on the spot and tell you that I will vote for just about any revenue source I can think of right now, to improve our schools. But you need to put the pressure on all of us to make sure that we find a solution and we don’t get to the end of the session and say oops, sorry, can’t do that.”

Brower said he agrees with Gov. Brian Sandoval, who announced earlier this year that he will propose to extend a package of taxes now set to sunset on June 30, 2013, into the next two-year budget to ensure that there are no further budget reductions for public schools or higher education.

But Leslie said the Legislature needs to do more than maintain the status quo and instead find a way to restore the $123 million cut from Washoe County schools over the past five years. Nevada ranks poorly in many national rankings, including ranking 50th in the number of children who attend preschool, she said.

“So obviously we can’t cut any more but what we really need to do is find a way to put that money back,” she said.

Hickey said he does not believe that raising taxes to find more revenue for education is likely to see any serious consideration at the next session. An option he favors is to look at shifting money that now goes to corrections and health and human services to public education.

Spending more on public education now so that money doesn’t have to be spent later on prisons is a better investment in the long term, Hickey said. Even so, several neighboring states, including Utah and Arizona, spend less per pupil but perform better than Nevada, he said.

“It’s wiser to educate than incarcerate,” Hickey said. “So we do need to spend more, we do need to spend wisely, but money is not the entire answer.”

Bobzien, who served as chairman of the Assembly Education Committee in 2011, said a number of major reforms were passed in a bipartisan show of support. But those reforms won’t turn Nevada’s schools around over the long term without adequate financial support, he said.

Waterman said the findings of the Sage Commission, established by former Gov. Jim Gibbons to find ways to make state government more efficient, need to be considered by lawmakers. Eliminating duplicative programs could help find money for public education, she said.

Benitez-Thompson said specific policy proposals are fine, but lawmakers need to look at the overall funding challenges facing public education. Ending social promotion from the third to the fourth grade is fine, but there are costs involved when children are held back, she said. Those children will need additional assistance so they can succeed, Benitez-Thompson said.

Taber said teachers need to be given more control over their classrooms to help their students achieve. Funding also needs to be allocated with a business-oriented approach to ensure it is spent wisely, he said.

“Business sense is important,” Taber said.


Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says finding a revenue source to repair older Washoe schools will be a worthwhile investment:

091712Brower :24 decades to come.”

Former Sen. Sheila Leslie says the Legislature needs to restore funding cut over the past several years, not just avoid further reductions:

091712Leslie1 :18 that money back.”



Lawmakers Endorse New Weighted Funding Formula For Public Education, Specifics To Come Later

By Sean Whaley | 1:59 pm August 28th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today recommended that Nevada’s public education funding formula be revised to take into account the higher cost of educating specific groups of students, including English-language learners and children in poverty.

But lawmakers also acknowledged that updating the formula won’t mean any significant changes in funding for the state’s 17 school districts until the state’s economy improves and tax revenues increase.

There is no proposal to shift current funding from one district to another to fund a new weighted formula.

The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967. The Clark County School District sought the review to look at whether the state’s education funding plan needs to include additional funding for educating specific groups of students.

The six lawmakers serving on the panel supported the recommendation to revise the formula, which will be presented to the Legislature when the 2013 session gets under way.

But lawmakers deferred to the Department of Education the technical details of which groups should be included and how the different categories of students should be weighted in any new funding formula. Other groups that could be included in a weighted formula are gifted and talented and career and technical education, among others.

“The committee, I think, could find quick and unanimous support for the recommendation that we as a state consider changing our K-12 funding formula to one that considers a variety of different weights, including but not limited to; and then a comprehensive list,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. “That tees up the issue then for the next session. It tells the Legislature as a whole that this committee did its job, it studied the issue and it decided it was worthy of legislative consideration.”

The recommendation came after the Clark County School District provided $125,000 to the legislative panel to hire a consultant to study the issue. The consultant, American Institutes for Research, issued a final report which found in part: “As low‐income students and English learners are widely accepted in the mainstream education finance literature to be associated with higher educational costs, it is our strong recommendation that funding adjustments be incorporated into the current funding system to account for these student need cost factors.”

The report found that Nevada is not in line with most other states on funding, being one of 14 states that does not adjust funding for low-income students and one of eight that does not account for the cost of English learners.

“I think what we’ve learned is that the 1967 formula is no longer adequate,” said Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. “I think everybody on this committee agrees with that. It doesn’t meet the needs that it was originally intended to do.”


Audio Clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says lawmakers agree the funding formula needs to be changed:

082812Brower1 :22 a comprehensive list.”

Brower says the details can be worked out in the coming weeks and months:

082812Brower2 :26 just the opposite.”

Assemblyman Ira Hansen says the review has shown that the Nevada Plan is no longer adequate to fund public education:

082812Hansen :27 categories should be.”


Interim Lawmaker Panel OKs Drafting Resolution To Provide For Study Of Legislature, Including Pay, Annual Sessions

By Sean Whaley | 4:18 pm August 20th, 2012

CARSON CITY – A legislative panel today voted to seek a resolution in the 2013 session to authorize the creation of a public commission to study the operation of the Legislature and make recommendations on issues ranging from lawmaker pay to moving to annual sessions.

The Legislative Commission’s Committee To Study the Structure and Operations of the Nevada Legislature voted to pursue such a review, which has not occurred in Nevada since 1988. The study would be performed by a public commission which could make recommendations for consideration by the 2015 Legislature.

Details of who would serve on the public commission, along with other aspects of such a review, will be worked out in committee hearings in the 2013 session that will start next February.

Currently the Nevada constitution requires the Legislature meet every other year for 120 days. The constitution also limits legislative pay to the first 60 days of a session and imposes term limits for state lawmakers. Voters would have to approve any changes to these requirements before they could take effect.

While the legislative panel approved the drafting of a resolution providing for a public commission to review these and potentially other legislative rules and mandates, one lawmaker said he will reserve judgment until he sees the final working of the proposal.

“I’m all for studying virtually anything and this is certainly a topic worthy of study,” said Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, a member of the panel. “But I don’t want to mislead the chair of the committee. I’m not convinced that creating a commission is necessary, especially in light of the fact that this committee has been meeting throughout the interim to do largely what the commission would do.

“But I will keep an open mind on that, and I will look at the resolution once it is created as a result of this committee’s work, and I will study it carefully during the next session,” he said.

Before the discussion on the resolution, the committee heard from former state Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, who now serves as a member of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Townsend was termed out of office in 2010. He had served in the Senate since 1983.

Former state Sen. Randolph Townsend. / Photo courtesy of Project Vote Smart.

Townsend suggested a number of ideas for the Legislature to consider, including changing the length of terms for state Senators from four years to six, and for Assembly members from two years to four, to reduce the frequency of campaigns that he said interfere in the legislative process.

“Whether you change term limits or not, I think you take a lot of the money and vitriol out of these things,” he said. “Because it’s gotten to the point where campaigns overcome policy making, and that is not fair to any of you no matter what party you are in or what section of the state you live in.”

Townsend also suggested that legislative sessions be changed to even-numbered years if there is no move to have annual sessions. Those elected to the Legislature in each general election every November in even numbered years would then have more than a full year to learn the legislative process before a session would begin. Now lawmakers are elected in November and must start a session early the following year, he said.

“Move it off a year,” Townsend said. “Leadership can appoint those folks to their interim committees, and they can start learning the process, and the issues, and their colleagues and the people that they affect. That one single change will make every legislator better, whether you’ve been there a long time or whether you are new.”

The change would also mean a shorter campaign season for lawmakers if sessions continued to end in early June in even-numbered years, Townsend said.

Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, chairman of the interim study committee, questioned how lawmakers would raise campaign funds in such a scenario but said such issues can be discussed at a later date.


Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says he is not convinced such a study is needed but will consider the issue in the 2013 session:

082012Brower :32 the next session.”

Former state Sen. Randolph Townsend says Assembly terns should be four years and Senate terms six years:

082012Townsend1 :11 you live in.”

Townsend says legislative sessions should be moved to even-numbered years:

082012Townsend2 :24 you are new.”

Lawmaker Review Of 45-Year-Old Nevada Public Education Funding Plan To Proceed With Funding

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 10:50 am March 2nd, 2012

(Updated with donors who paid $125,00 in total for the review.)

CARSON CITY – A panel of lawmakers today moved forward with a review of the state’s 45-year-old formula for funding public education after receiving $125,000 from the Clark County School District to pay for a study.

The New Method for Funding Public Schools interim study was authorized by the 2011 Legislature to look at the “Nevada Plan” the current funding formula adopted in 1967.

But it was contingent upon funding from the Clark County School District, which is seeking the review. The district wants lawmakers to consider revising the formula to assist urban districts with the costs of educating special education students, English-language learners and children in poverty, among other factors.

Funding for the study provided by the district includes $50,000 from several hotel-casino related organizations, including $10,000 each from the Harrah Foundation, Las Vegas Sands Corporation, MGM Resorts International, Stations Casinos and Wynn Resorts.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons.

Lawmakers on the panel voted to hire a consultant through a request for proposals to assist in the review of the formula.

Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, a member of the interim study panel, also asked the Clark County School District to provide a list of those who contributed to the district to produce the $125,000 for the study.

“Unless counsel would advise us otherwise I think it is a matter of public record so I think it is important that the committee and those who might be evaluating this study later on know exactly how it was funded and where the funds came from, so . . .” he said.

Joyce Haldeman, representing the district, said the information would be provided.

The list was provided to the Nevada News Bureau today and also includes $25,000 from the Clark County School District, $15,000 from the Washoe County School District, and $9,500 from the Clark County Association of School Administrators and Professional-Technical Employees.


Audio clip:

Sen. Greg Brower says the committee and others should know where the funding came from:

030212Brower :16 came from, so . . .”


State Lawmaker Asks AG To Respond To Query About $6 Million In Outside Legal Fees In Freeway Dispute

By Sean Whaley | 11:08 am January 25th, 2012

CARSON CITY – State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, has asked Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto why an outside legal firm was retained to defend the state against a freeway construction dispute. Legal costs charged to the state will total $6 million by the end of an arbitration hearing set for next month.

The Jan. 12 letter asked Masto why her office retained, or advised the Nevada Department of Transportation to retain, an outside law firm to defend the state against a $40 million claim filed by Utah-based Ames Construction, which built the first phase of the 395 bypass in the capital that opened in February of 2006.

Carson City bypass. / Photo courtesy of NDOT.

Brower also asked about the process that led to the retention of the firm of Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald to handle the case beginning in 2008. He also asks why a Nevada firm was not retained, and what controls are in place to monitor the fees being incurred.

Brower asked for a response within 30 days.

The attorney general’s office has not yet responded to Brower’s letter.

In a telephone interview, Brower said several constituents asked about the amount of fees incurred so far and why a Virginia law firm was retained to represent the state.

“Those two issues raised red flags with me, and so I thought it made sense to just ask a few questions of the attorney general’s office and ask her to clarify exactly, as I set forth in the letter, why the state has hired this out-of-state firm as opposed to an in-state firm or doing the litigation in the AG’s office,” he said.

“I think that some questions need to be answered, and I am frankly, concerned with the general management of litigation matters by the attorney general’s office,” Brower said. “And so here is another example that seems to raise some red flags.”

The concerns are strictly fiscal in nature, he said.

“We just don’t have money to waste,” Brower said. “At least this particular situation seems to suggest that maybe we are. Maybe there are good answers to all of these questions I raised in my letter but there is only one way to find out and that is to ask them.”

Scott Magruder, a spokesman for NDOT, said today the agency actually retained the firm, which is one of the leading construction litigation firms in the nation. The firm has an office in Las Vegas. The agency wanted quality representation because of the size of the claim, he said.

The $70 million contract for the first 3.5-miles of freeway bypass was awarded to Ames in 2003.

Gov. Brian Sandoval first raised concerns about the amount of legal fees at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Department of Transportation earlier this month. He said he had not seen such costs for a legal challenge before.

“Because even at those rates, $6 million, I haven’t seen that before,” Sandoval said at the Jan. 9 meeting. “I mean this just gets us to the mediation, as you say, and then we don’t know what the outcome of the mediation is going to be after that.”

State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The rates charged by the legal firm’s attorneys are as high as $340 an hour for the senior partner, but members of the board were told the rates are not excessive and have not changed since the dispute first began.

“That’s not an unreasonable fee,” Masto said at the meeting. Masto also serves as a member of the Transportation Board.

Dennis Gallagher, NDOT’s chief legal counsel with the attorney general’s office, told the board at the meeting that the legal fees also cover the experts hired to defend the state. He said the case is extremely complex and that Ames has not backed down from its $40 million claim.

“The state vigorously disputes this claim; has been defending it in court since 2008; we finally got it to a point where it will go to mediation the end of February and this latest amendment is to bring the fees current through the mediation, Gallagher said.


Audio clips:

Sen. Greg Brower says the legal costs have raised red flags:

012512Brower1 :23 the AG’s office.”

Brower says he is concerned with the general management of litigation matters by the attorney general’s office:

012512Brower2 :23 go from there.”

Brower says the state does not have money to waste:

012512Brower3 :31 to ask them.”

State Lawmaker Says GOP Poised To Win Control Of Senate In 2012, Democrat Disagrees

By Sean Whaley | 4:58 pm January 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Republican state Senator Michael Roberson said today he expects the GOP to retake control of the Senate in the 2012 general election, citing the quality of candidates recruited for two key Clark County races.

His optimism was countered by Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, who said he is confident Democrats will maintain control of the Senate come Nov. 7.

Democrats now hold a narrow 11-10 edge in the Senate, but the dynamics have changed as a result of the redrawing of legislative districts based on the 2010 census.

Roberson, R- Las Vegas, in an interview on the Nevada NewsMakers television show, said Republicans have recruited strong candidates to run in the Clark 5 seat now held by Democrat Shirley Breeden, who is not seeking re-election, and in Clark 6, now held by Democrat Allison Copening.

State Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas.

Former Henderson City Councilman Steve Kirk has announced as a Republican for Breeden’s seat. Kirk is expected to face off against former Democrat state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, who lost to Roberson in the 2010 general election.

And just yesterday Las Vegas attorney and Republican Mark Hutchison, who is leading Nevada’s challenge to the federal Health Care Law on behalf of Gov. Brian Sandoval, announced he will run for the seat held by Copening.

The Democrat candidate for this seat has not yet been announced by party officials.

“We’ve worked very hard to get the folks that we think are the very best candidates for these competitive seats,” Roberson said.

Both districts favor Democrats in voter registration, however, by more than five points.

Even winning just one of the two Democrat-held seats would likely flip the 21-member state Senate back to Republican control. Democrats have held the Senate majority for two legislative sessions.

Denis said Democrats have also done a great job of getting great candidates who are more in tune with the population as a whole, and who will also become great lawmakers.

“It’s ours to give away and we’re going to work very hard this year,” he said. “We’ve been working very hard to get great candidates and we’re going to work hard to get them elected and we think, if you look at the numbers, and all of the different indicators, that everything points to us maintaining the majority as we move forward.”

Roberson said the Senate GOP caucus is also endorsing freshman Assemblyman Scott Hammond for the new Clark 18 Senate seat created as a result of redistricting, and has Sen. Greg Brower seeking a full term in Washoe 15. Both are quality candidates who are expected to win their races, he said.

The fifth Senate seat in play for Republicans in 2012 is rural Senate 19 being sought by current Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, formerly held by Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, who was termed out of office.

Roberson, who is expected to lead the GOP Senate caucus, also pledged to work across the aisle with Democrats in the 2013 legislative session.

“You’ve got to work with the other side and that is exactly what our caucus is going to do when we’re in the majority next session,” he said.

Roberson has also been named as one of 12 state lawmakers to watch in 2012 by Governing.


Audio clips:

Sen. Michael Roberson says the GOP Senate Caucus has recruited excellent candidates:

010412Roberson1 :15 Senate District 6.”

Roberson says Republicans will work with Democrats when they are in the majority in 2013:

010412Roberson2 :06 majority next session.”

Sen. Mo Denis says the Senate will remain in Democrat control:

010412Denis :23 we move forward.”


Amodei Wins Republican Nomination for Congressional Special Election

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:49 am June 19th, 2011

SPARKS — Former Republican Party of Nevada Chairman Mark Amodei yesterday blew out the competition and became his party’s nominee for the 2nd congressional district special election on Sept. 13.

Amodei needed 162 of 323 member votes to win. He pulled in 221 votes compared to state Sen. Greg Brower who earned 56 votes and retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kirk Lippold who received 46 votes.

It now remains to be seen whether the party’s nomination will stay in effect through the general election. The state Supreme Court could effectively invalidate the nomination if it rules in favor of a so-called free-for-all among the more than two dozen candidates who have so far filed with the Secretary of State.

The initial decision to hold an open ballot election was made by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who interpreted state statutes to say that no primary election should be held in a special election for Congress.

But Republicans argued that state statutes say it is up to the political parties to nominate candidates. District Court Judge James T. Russell ruled in their favor, however Miller and the Nevada Democratic Party quickly appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Amodei, who served in the state Legislature prior to his time as chairman of the state Republican party, touted his non-government work experience to the delegates gathered at the meeting.

“Twenty-four years in the private sector; that’s how I earned my living as I stand here before you today,” he said.

“I have fourteen years legislative experience, but I am not going to belabor that,” he added.

Amodei seemed relaxed and confident throughout the morning.

“I am comfortable with the fact that you folks have done your homework,” he said near the end of his speech.

Carol Howell, a delegate and northern Nevada conservative activist, asked the candidates if they would agree to honor the central committee vote and support the winner should the state Supreme Court rule in favor of a free-wheeling “ballot royale.”

Both Brower and Amodei said they would support the winner. Lippold said he would stay in the race regardless, and would also run for the seat in 2012.

Brower tried to win support by presenting strongly worded conservative policy positions, talking about his experience both as a former naval officer and U.S. Attorney, painting himself as a devoted father and husband and promising to quickly raise a large amount of campaign money if nominated.

“I will commit to you that in the first 30 days of this race, I can raise $500,000,” said Brower confidently.

In answer to a question about the current size of his campaign coffers, however, Brower acknowledged he had a big hill to climb.

“I got into this late because I was working in Carson city to balance the budget. I am really behind in the fundraising effort,” he said.

Brower was the only candidate to name his party’s potential opposition by name.

“If you like Obama and Reid and Pelosi, you’re going to love Kate Marshall,” he quipped to laughter and applause.

Brower was visibly shocked after the vote tallies were announced, but said he thought it was important for the party to get behind a single candidate. He was not specific about what kind of support he would personally offer to Amodei, though.

“We’ll see. Whatever… I’ll do whatever I can,” said Brower with a strained smile.

In contrast, Lippold was cheerful in the face of defeat and vowed to fight on, saying he was honored to be part of the process.

“To think that I was able to in six weeks come from zero to be able to stand on the stage with guys who have been here in the state for a decade working and to get the level and groundswell of support that I had today, I’m absolutely touched and honored and just grateful for the central committee and the hard work they did,” Lippold said.

Amodei spoke to the press informally for a few minutes after the results were announced. In answer to questions about his chances in the election, Amodei said he did not think a Republican win was a foregone conclusion.

“I think if you look at the district and you study the voting results, 72 months ago Jill Derby beat Dean Heller by 4,000 votes in Washoe County. If that’s not a wake-up call–” Amodei said, acknowledging that hard work will be necessary to pull off a win.

The state Supreme Court is expected to hear the special election case on June 28.


Post-election video interviews:

Mark Amodei

Greg Brower

Kirk Lippold





Gloves Come Off the Night Before the GOP Battle for CD-2 Nomination

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:07 am June 18th, 2011

Former state Senator and GOP Chairman and CD-2 candidate Mark Amodei last night struck back at state Senator and opponent Greg Brower.

An email missive from Amodei hit the inboxes of the Republican party faithful on the eve of the Nevada Republican Party’s gathering in Sparks. The party will today call a quorum of its central committee members and vote to decide the party’s nominated candidate for the special election to fill Senator Dean Heller’s vacated congressional seat.

Though Amodei’s it’s-too-bad-people-are-slinging-mud email did not mention Brower by name, Brower has been the only candidate to directly criticize Amodei.

In a three-way debate in Reno earlier this week with both Amodei and former U.S.S. Cole Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, state Senator Greg Brower questioned Amodei’s conservative credentials.

Brower’s criticism of Amodei on Wednesday was based on his opponent’s support of certain collective bargaining policies for public employees as well as a vote in favor of the $1 billion 2003 tax increase approved by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Amodei defended his support for Guinn’s 2003 budget as the only way to avoid a state income tax. He then said Brower would have backed the measure, too, except that Brower lost his seat at the time due to a primary challenge by Sharron Angle.

A few hours later, Amodei sent out the following email missive which presumably made it into the inboxes of Republicans statewide including many central committee members who will be voting today (note the postscript, too, in which Amodei claims ownership of the idea to eliminate the Department of Education — a platform many conservatives including Sharron Angle have run on in recent years):

Amodei Sets the Record Straight

Dear —-,

All of Congressional District 2 embodies the core Nevada values, that some folks call “small town values” such as the importance of independence, self-reliance and commitment.  I believe in those values just as I believe in discussing issues, based upon facts, and I will remain true to those values.

It’s unfortunate that one of our candidates has decided to run a campaign against fellow Republicans like the Democrats ran against former Senator Ann O’Connell and former Senator (now Representative) Joe Heck. Those campaigns, funded with big money from unions and other special interests, were full of lies, distortions of legislative votes, innuendos, and even attacks on campaign staff.

I could lower myself to that level. I could talk about one candidate’s 140 votes for taxes and fees when he was an assemblyman. I could bring up other things about other candidates. I will not do that.

Slinging mud at other Republicans only helps the Democrats’ campaign against us! Those attacking me and others do not care about the party or winning. They only care about themselves.

Tonight, Jon Ralston hosted a debate on his TV show. Although I would normally be in attendance, as I believe public debate is one of the best ways for you to learn about a candidate’s stand on the issues, I had a prior commitment. Months ago, prior to the special election announcement, I made a promise to honor a woman who has raised tens of millions of dollars to support one of Nevada’s public education institutions, Western Nevada College. As a product of small town America and Nevada’s public schools, when I am asked to do something and I promise I’ll be there, I keep my word.

Therefore, I want you to know that I am fulfilling my promise – just as I will keep my promises to voters as a member of the U.S. Congress should you deem me fit to serve.  I WILL remember who gave me the job.
Mark Amodei

PS - I was glad to hear that one of the candidates adopted my idea of cutting the Dept. of Education budget and sending the money to the states.


District Court Judge Issues Special House Election Decision, Calls Secretary of State’s Ruling “Unreasonable” and “Absurd”

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:39 pm May 23rd, 2011

In a decision that surprised many — including the Nevada Democratic Party — a district judge last Thursday overruled Secretary of State Ross Miller’s decision to permit any qualified candidate to run in a “free-for-all” in the U.S. House race to fill Dean Heller’s recently vacated seat.

According to Miller’s interpretation of the law, “qualified” would have meant collecting 100 signatures and filing (fee free) for candidacy. However, Judge James Todd Russell last week enjoined Miller from moving ahead with ballot preparation and gave the political parties until June 30 to nominate a candidate.

Russell’s written decision, issued today, called the Nevada statutes “ambiguous” and said the GOP “would suffer irreparable harm” in a free-for-all election. The decision also said Miller relied on “a single sentence” in special election law and produced “an unreasonable and absurd result” which results in “unfair treatment.”

Russell said on Friday he based his decision on the reading of two Nevada statutes that govern special and regular elections. He said they were confusing when taken as a whole and added that the Legislature should clarify the law in order to avoid future conflicts.

The 2003 special election law (passed after 9/11 to address sudden House vacancies) says there should be no primary election, but that candidates must be nominated before filing a declaration of candidacy. However, a separate statute says the major and minor parties’ central or executive committees should nominate candidates whenever a vacancy exists.

In his comments in open court Friday, Russell said the secretary of state was “picking and choosing” portions of the law when he made his decision to allow what Miller called a “ballot royale.” Russell also said it seemed unfair to have different rules for major and minor parties (the secretary of state had said minor parties could nominate only one candidate each).

Democratic attorneys argued that Miller has the authority to set election rules and that he should be given the latitude to interpret statutes.

An appeal by Miller is expected to be filed with the Nevada Supreme Court.

The decision virtually guarantees the GOP will hold the 2nd Congressional District because it prevents a crowded Republican field and subsequent splintered vote, which would have benefitted a strong Democratic candidate (hello, Kate Marshall).

Interestingly enough, Dean Heller, whose empty House seat is now at the center of the controversy, was the Secretary of State when the 2003 legislation was passed. He should have set the rules for a special election but because he never did so, Nevada finds itself headed for a state supreme court hearing.

The GOP central committee meeting and election is currently scheduled for June 18 in Sparks, NV.

Nevada Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei has yet to step down from his post, though he announced his candidacy and is a contender for the party’s nomination.

State Senator and former U.S. attorney for Nevada Greg Brower is Amodei’s primary competition for the GOP central committee vote. Brower has been active and aggressive in recent days with the launch of his campaign website along with email and social media messages to the Republican base and central committee members.

Several Democrats are expected to compete for the nomination to fill the House vacancy including State Treasurer Kate Marshall, Nancy Price and Jill Derby.

Here is the District Court’s decision, issued Thursday from the bench. It is only 12 pages and is fairly straightforward:



Republican Congressional Candidates Speak Before Republican Women’s Group

By Andrew Doughman | 6:55 pm May 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY — It’s starting to look at lot like campaign season.

Three Republican candidates for Congressional District 2 tried to sell their candidacies to about 100 members of the Nevada Federation of Republican Women at an event at the Plaza Hotel today.

Many of the women in attendance are members of the state party’s central committee, which will nominate one candidate from a field that includes Nevada Republican Party Chairman Mark Amodei, state Sen. Greg Brower, former U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle and former commander of the U.S.S. Cole, Kirk Lippold.

Angle could not attend due to a scheduling conflict, but the other three spoke at the luncheon and touted conservative talking points — no new taxes, small government, fiscal responsibility — while also talking about who they are and what they can do for the congressional district.

Nevada State Republican Party chairman Mark Amodei speaks to the Nevada Federation of Republican Women, the members of which will help select the party's nominee for Congressional District 2.

Following a lower court ruling earlier this week, the Republican and Democratic parties must select a candidate for a September 13 special election. Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., vacated the seat after Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed him to replace outgoing Sen. John Ensign, who resigned following mounting pressure from investigations into an extramarital affair.

Secretary of State Ross Miller, a Democrat, is appealing the court’s decision. Miller has argued that Nevada law calls for what he said is a  ”ballot royale,” an election allowing on the ballot numerous candidates from each political party.

In the meantime, candidates are operating under the assumption that their own parties will select one of them. Democrats have already thrown their weight behind Treasurer Kate Marshall.

But in the Republican field, four candidates are vying for the party’s nomination. The party’s central committee members plan to meet June 18 at John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks to select the candidate.

“For these few weeks, those 351 central committee members will be more popular than they ever dreamed of,” Amodei said.

Amodei spoke earlier this morning at the Nevada Truck Driving Championship in Reno, where he spoke from the bed of a truck in blue jeans and an Army windbreaker.

Speaking to about 70 truck drivers, he stressed the trucking industry’s importance to Nevada.

“We get it,” he said.

Later, wearing a suit at the Republican women’s luncheon, he cast the race as a job interview. He said he would be the best person for the central committee to “hire” as their candidate because he has the most experience with the issues of the northern Nevada district.

Amodei served in the state Senate before leaving due to term limits.

“We need an advocate to lead us in CD2,” he said.

Brower spoke to the women’s group next, touting his extensive public service — he is a former Assemblyman and a former U.S. Attorney — and playing to the crowd.

“Women’s groups really are the backbone of this party,” he said.

State Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, said he is the best candidate for the job, saying he's "in the trenches down here" at the Legislature everyday.

Brower, who was appointed to replace retiring Sen. Bill Raggio earlier this year, said he has the strongest conservative record.

“If I feel I am the best candidate for the job, I feel compelled to volunteer,” he said.

Lippold spoke last.

He stuck to familiar Republican mantras of personal responsibility and fiscal restraint while also highlighting his record on defense.

Breaking from the views of some Republicans, he said legislators need to scrutinize how money is spent at the Department of Defense.

“The Department of Defense is not working with the same efficiency and effectiveness as they used to,” he said.

During the next month, the candidates will have to convince central committee members that their personal traits, political philosophy and professional style should earn them the nomination.

“I don’t think anybody is going to come to you and say Obamacare is just right,” Amodei said. “We know what’s going on here.”



Vucanovich Says Amodei and Brower “Think They Are Kind of Untouchable” and Endorses Lippold in NV-2

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:46 pm May 18th, 2011

She knows all the players and had not planned to endorse anyone.

Considered by many to the the unofficial matriarch of the Republican Party in Nevada, former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich today said she changed her mind and sent a check to former U.S.S. Cole Commander and congressional candidate Kirk Lippold after hearing him speak at a Republican Women’s Club meeting last week.

“I sat next to him at lunch and then he did a presentation and answered questions,” said Vucanovich. “Afterwards, we sat and talked for a bit. I was impressed.”

After Lippold received the check, he called and asked Vucanovich for her endorsement. She readily agreed.

When queried about her choice not to endorse state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei or state Senator Greg Brower, both of whom she knows quite well, Vucanovich quipped, “They didn’t ask.”

Vucanovich said she has not heard from either Amodei or Brower in quite some time and added, “Maybe this isn’t a good word to use, but they think they are kind of untouchable.”

Vucanovich was no doubt echoing the voices of many grassroots, anti-establishment and/or Tea Party Republicans who are likely to reject Amodei and Brower in favor of a candidate they think will better represent their conservative values in Washington D.C.

Is Lippold that man?

“Yes,” said Vucanovich. “I think he is.”

As for her endorsement of former Tea Party darling Sharron Angle in last year’s U.S. Senate contest against Harry Reid, Vucanovich said she only agreed to endorse Angle after the candidate “backed down and cleaned up a little bit” on some issues and because it was “a completely different race.”

(Glancing back at a post, I was reminded who persuaded Vucanovich to sit down with Angle in the first place: Senator John Ensign.)


Senators Sit On Floor In Impromptu Debate With Camping Activists

By Andrew Doughman | 5:18 pm May 17th, 2011

CARSON CITY — Senate Republicans gave new meaning to the legislative jargon “floor debate” today.

Several lawmakers sat on the floor outside their offices today as they talked to activists who have been camping on the Capitol lawn since yesterday night in support of new revenue.

The impromptu, hour-long debate featured a variety of popular budget topics including teacher pay, textbooks in schools, higher education tuition and taxes.

It all started when about two dozen campers requested an audience with Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who did not have room for them in her office. So she stepped outside, and they sat on the floor together.

Several other Republican senators joined her soon after, and Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, offered shortbread Girl Scout cookies all around.

“I’ve never seen this before,” said Warren Hardy, a former legislator and current lobbyist who watched the debate. “It’s a great dialog. If I were still a senator, I would be right in the middle of it because I think that’s the respect these people deserve.”

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, speaks with Michael Flores, a ProgressNOW organizer, outside her office in the halls of the Legislature. //PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau

Republicans fielded a variety of questions from tough critics, some of whom are from organizations like Progress NOW Nevada and the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Those groups have supported Democratic plans for new taxes and have opposed Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s budget.

One girl asked about a shortage of textbooks in her Clark County School District high school.

Responding, Roberson said that many Clark County School District employees earn six-figure salaries and he wants more money going into the classroom.

Bob Fulkerson of PLAN called the response a “good sound byte,” but not a solution for poor rural school districts.

Roberson, in a familiar line, said that collective bargaining is “bankrupting the state,” after which several people shouted: “no.”

“If every teacher makes concessions, you will not have one teacher laid off,” Roberson said.

Republicans touted reforms to collective bargaining and advocated for the governor’s recommendation to cut teacher and state employee salaries by 5 percent, saying that it is the same suffering that private sector employees have had to bear during this recession.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, listens to a young girl ask him a question about the K-12 system as he sits outside legislative offices with a group camping outside the Legislature to show support for taxes. //PHOTO: Andrew Doughman, Nevada News Bureau.

The conversation was mostly an exercise in disagreement: over taxes, over the influence of public sector unions, over teacher pay, over tuition.

“If you want taxes to happen immediately, why can’t reforms happen immediately?” asked Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, as Roberson, Cegavske, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, looked on.

McGinness had met with the group of campers earlier.

“They talked to me about taxes and I talked to them about the governor’s budget,” he said. “We agreed to disagree.”

Similar disagreements are happening behind closed doors as McGinness and other legislative leaders from both parties are talking about taxes and the governor’s budget. McGinness said he thinks it is likely legislators will meet almost every night to reach a budget compromise.

Seated on the floor, no Republican had a sudden revelation that taxes will save Nevada and none of the campers disavowed taxes, but both groups seemed pleased with the debate.

“I’m so proud of you for sitting on the floor with us,” Cegavske said. “This is awesome.”

Michael Flores, a Progress NOW organizer, said it was “amazing” to talk to legislators for that long in an open-forum debate.

“This is what Democracy looks like,” he said.

CORRECTION: Amodei Still Mulling Run

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:38 am April 21st, 2011

The original headline of this post was “Amodei Announces Run for Heller’s Seat.” It was supported by a Las Vegas Review Journal story by political reporter Laura Myers. However, Mark Amodei told Jon Ralston he has NOT made nor announced a decision. From Ralston’s blog:

Despite a report to the contrary, state GOP Chairman Mark Amodei says he has not announced his candidacy for Rep. Dean Heller’s seat. “I did not announce anything,” Amodei told me, referring to a report this morning in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I need some things to fall in place. If they don’t, Mark Amodei will not enter the race. If I can get the right organizational pieces in place, I’m in.”

Amodei obviously was not pleased with the newspaper story and even went to the length of calling Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, also considering a bid, to assure him he had not announced anything, he told me. He also talked to state Sen. Greg Brower, also known to be mulling a run for Heller’s seat. Despite what the newspaper said – that Brower told Amodei he is in – Amodei said Brower only told him he is seriously considering the race and doing his due diligence, too. Brower also informed me this morning that he has not made a decision.

Amodei candidly told me he learned the lesson of what he wryly called his “six-month foray” into the 2010 Senate race, which he dropped out of after getting little traction. “I am not going to do what I did in the Senate race,” Amodei said.

I asked Amodei if he had been contacted by Gov. Brian Sandoval to try to dissuade him from running because of GOP fears that too many candidates in the contest might hand the nomination to Sharron Angle, who might lose to the Democratic nominee. Ex-USS Cole Commander Kirk Lipoid also has announced his candidacy.

Amodei said no one had called him to try to keep him out of the race, but he expressed frustration with people “sitting back and writing their hands” rather than coalescing behind one GOP hopeful. He pointed out that “this is not the district of Barbara Vucanovich and Jim Gibbons,” a reference to the first two occupants of the seat who had an overwhelmingly safe GOP district. Amodei suggested that after reapportionment the district will be less a sure thing for the GOP than it has been and that the imperative for a unified GOP front is even greater. He pointed out Heller’s loss in Washoe County to Democratic nominee Jill Derby four years ago.

Finally, Amodei essentially told me nothing has been decided about his stepping down as chairman, that he won’t make that decision until he decides on whether to run.

Which, clearly, he has not done.

My original blog post is below.

The current chairman of the state Republican party, Mark Amodei, told the LVRJ he is going to run for Nevada’s second congressional seat. If he files, he will join Sharron Angle and Cmdr. Kirk Lippold in a GOP primary that will likely see a couple-few more contenders before all is said and done.

Amodei said he is likely to file in May and will attempt to raise $100,000 in the next cycle, a mere pittance compared to the $710,000 Sharron Angle raised in the first quarter. Angle’s fundraising machine will make her a tough competitor in the race despite her high negatives with the base (as reported by Ralston, who got a peek at some March polls). And Amodei’s candidacy will help her because in a multi-way field, the more the merrier–for Angle.

State Senator Greg Brower looks like a strong maybe, and Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has said he’ll wait until after the legislative session to announce his plans. If both of them run, we’ll have a thrilling 5-contestant game show to watch next season.

Angle Holds Hour Long Press Conference in Reno

By Elizabeth Crum | 5:06 pm March 21st, 2011

Nearly 600 days before the general election and wearing a bright purple suit while proving she is no shrinking violet, Sharron Angle today cheerfully fielded tough questions from nine journalists for nearly an hour.

The sole (so far) candidate for Nevada’s second congressional district held the first press conference of her campaign in a small conference room at the Best Western hotel across from the Reno, NV airport.

In a stated attempt to get off on the right foot with a press corps unhappy with (what they claim are) past instances of inaccessibility, Angle said today’s press conference was purposefully scheduled so many days after her announcement last Tuesday in order to give the media time to arrange travel and get their questions ready.

During the press conference, each time she was asked whether she really believes she can win the CD-2 primary race and then win a general election after being so badly damaged in last year’s electoral loss, Angle referred to a large sign reading “19,677″ and which represents her margin over Reid in CD-2 last year:

Angle said she believes that large margin means she has strong enough support in the district to win both the primary and general election. Recounting her history as a politician, she also pointed out, “I have won ten elections. I have lost four.”

In defense of her loss to Reid, which came up numerous times in a variety of ways, Angle pointed out that only one Senate Majority Leader has ever been defeated once entrenched.

Some Republican leaders are not thrilled with Angle’s decision to run, fearing she may win the primary but lose in the general election, effectively handing a congressional seat to the Democrats.

Angle dismissed those concerns, saying it was her “right” to run and adding, “I can win.” She insisted she is well-liked in the district, saying her supporters may not agree with her on every issue but they “know how I will vote” and “can sleep at night knowing I won’t change” position on issues.

When asked what mistakes, if any, she thinks she made in her U.S. Senate campaign and whether that will change her approach this time around, Angle answered, “We have some regrets, but too few to mention.”

Angle added that the initial days of last year’s campaign were “like drinking water from a fire house” and went on to talk about how the Harry Reid campaign engaged in “character assassination.” Later in the press conference, she said she needed “a commercial up the day after the primary.”

When asked about her position on Social Security, Angle resurrected a phrase from her sole debate with Reid and said Congress needs to “man up” and stop using the “trust fund” as their “personal piggy bank.”

Questions about the tea party effect and whether it may help her again were met with measured comments about how such labels can be misleading or “box people in.” Angle said she is appealing to voters to whom “constitutional issues” are important, whether they are members of the “tea party” or not.

As the press conference wrapped up, Angle named upcoming events on her calendar and said her new book, an autobiography that will share personal, formative things, will be out on April. The book is entitled “Right Angle” and will be self-published under Author House.

Angle stayed after the press conference to shake hands and answer individual questions, also introducing her press secretary, Will Rasavage, who she said journalists should “feel free” to contact for “exclusive” time with her.

As Angle gears up to hire her campaign team – she said she is conducting interviews now – some Republican leaders are pressing Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki to run, while also asking state party chair Mark Amodei to consider not running in order to avoid a scenario that might pull votes from Krolicki and hand Angle the primary win.

Also considering a run are state Sen. Greg Brower and Kirk Lippold, former U.S.S. Cole commander.