Posts Tagged ‘ruben kihuen’

Kihuen is Out

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:08 pm February 7th, 2012

State Sen. Ruben Kihuen this afternoon announced he was dropping out of the primary race for the urban and heavily Democratic NV-01, which means smooth sailing for his opponent and former Rep. Dina Titus.

Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, acknowledged he has not been able to raise the money to compete.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that continuing my efforts to win in what would promise to be a resource draining primary at this time is not in the best interest for me, my family, my community and my party,” Kihuen said in a statement.

In response to Kihuen’s withdrawal, Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Roberta Lange released a statement including the following:

“Senator Ruben Kihuen is an outstanding public servant with a very bright future in Nevada politics. He will continue to be a strong fighter in the Nevada State Senate to create jobs and improve Nevada’s education system. I congratulate Senator Kihuen on the race he ran and look forward to working with him in the future.

“Nevada Democrats are united behind Dina Titus and we look forward to sending her back to Congress to fight for Nevada families.”

Kihuen will serve out his term as state Senator.

Pre-Game Analysis: Titus to Announce in Congressional District “X”

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:57 am November 1st, 2011

…where X is (probably) equal to one.

As first Tweeted by @RalstonFlash yesterday, former Rep. Dina Titus plans to announce (this Thursday) in which congressional district she plans to run. The declaration will come even though Nevada’s new congressional maps are not yet validated by either the courts or the legislature.

Former Rep. Dina Titus

Titus will most likely choose to run in CD-1, where she lives, which will likely result in a very interesting Democratic primary race between her and state Senator Ruben Kihuen. (Titus has said she’d run in the district with the most Democrats; Kihuen has said he’d run in the district with the most Hispanics.)

For my out of state readers, this has historically been the safest Democratic seat in Nevada. It was long held by Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is now running for the U.S. Senate against Sen. Dean Heller. Under the new maps, Democrats have a 27 percentage point voter registration advantage over Republicans in the district.

Here’s a quick look at the Titus-Kihuen match-up:

Bios

Titus taught government classes at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for 34 years, until her retirement in June. She represented Senate District 7 in the Nevada Legislature for 20 years, serving as the Democratic Minority Leader from 1993 to 2008. Titus was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from CD-3 in November 2008, where she served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and Labor Committee, and the Homeland Security Committee.  She also served as Whip for the Western states. Titus lost the seat (by less than 2,000 votes) to Rep. Joe Heck in 2010.

(Interesting historical note: Democrats targeted CD-3 Republican incumbent Jon Porter in 2008. Their top candidate was Clark County prosecutor Robert Daskas, but he dropped out of the race for family reasons. Democrats then quickly recruited Titus, who had won the district in her unsuccessful 2006 run for governor. Titus was a beneficiary of the “Obama wave” and defeated Porter in November, 47% to 42%, becoming the first Democrat to ever represent the district.)

Kihuen was elected to serve the 10th Senatorial District (central and east Las Vegas) of Nevada in November of 2010. Prior to that, he served two terms as a State Assembly member for District 11. Kihuen also served as “diversity programs manager” for the College of Southern Nevada, a job that was eliminated when he left CSN in order to run for Congress. He is a past member of the Clark County Community Development Advisory Committee and the North Las Vegas Citizen’s Advisory Committee.

Update: Kihuen has in the past worked as a college recruiter and academic advisor for CSN. He also worked as a field organizer for political campaigns in Nevada, Virginia, Florida and Texas, and served as regional representative to Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Update 2/correction: The communications director for CSN emailed to clarify that Ruben Kihuen’s job was not eliminated from CSN. Constance Brooks has taken over the diversity office that Ruben led; her job title is “director of government affairs and diversity initiatives.”

Nevada Records/Notables

In the 2007 legislative session, Titus authored a bill that requires health insurance companies to cover the costs of the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, which is purported to protect women from cervical cancer. The bill passed both the Nevada Senate and the Nevada Assembly and was signed by Gov. Jim Gibbons. She also spear-headed a measure banning so-called universal default clauses that enable credit card issuers to boost interest rates by 30 percent or more. The bill passed the Nevada Senate and Assembly, but was vetoed by Gibbons. (Congress later pressured major credit card companies to roll back the clause voluntarily.)

Kihuen authored few bills during his time in Carson City, but you can view his legislative voting record here. An August Las Vegas Sun story described his most notable accomplishments as (1) authoring a 2009 bill outlawing the taking of too many copies of free publications (it passed the Assembly and Senate but was vetoed by Gibbons and (2) pushing a measure that granted a portion of unused gift cards to the state for education, instead of returning it to the business. Kihuen contended that it was more important for him to focus on leading the newly created Select Committee on Economic Growth and Employment, and that he participated in and influenced numerous important discussions on bills.

Cash

As of the end of Q3, Kihuen had raised $92,000, spent $6,800 spent, and loaned himself $10,000 loan. His cash on hand: $95,000.

Titus raised $201,000, spent $8,000, and had/has $193,000 cash on hand.

Titus’ fundraising ability is presumed superior, but Kihuen should not be underestimated.

Update: A political wag rightly points out that Kihuen is likely to get plenty of Nevada lobbying money because even if he loses in the primary, he will return to Carson City as a state senator in 2013. Win/win for special interests that support him.

Strategy

Kihuen is seeking to become Nevada’s first Hispanic congressman and is betting on strong minority support, evidenced by the presence of a diverse crowd of supporters along with a mariachi band, Chinese dancing dragons and African-American break dancers at his congressional campaign kick-off a few weeks back.

If the lines remain as drawn the court-appointed special masters, the district is 43% Hispanic.

Titus will bank on her existing base of voter support, campaign money from both in and out of state, and what is sure to be a strong campaign team willing to go the (brutal) extra mile if pre-primary election polls are tight.

 

Wednesday Political Round-Up

By Elizabeth Crum | 7:21 pm October 26th, 2011

Some snippets and blurbs from the week so far for your enjoyment, Dear Readers:

Presidential Race

Magellan Strategies this week released an autodial poll of 673 likely Nevada GOP caucus goers. Results:

Mitt Romney – 38%

Herman Cain – 26%

Newt Gingrich – 16%

Ron Paul – 7%

Rick Perry – 5%

Michele Bachman – 2%

Rick Santorum & Jon Huntsman – 1%

Other – 1%

Also interesting, the Favorable/Unfavorable ratios from the poll:

Cain	  69%	 19%
Romney	  67%	 23%
Gingrich  63%	 26%
Bachmann  41%	 45%
Santorum  28%	 43%
Paul	  32%	 51%
Perry	  25%	 58%
Huntsman  13%	 57%
NV GOP Caucuses

The Union Leader in New Hampshire couldn’t resist one more jab at Nevada (via OpEd), but they got one thing wrong. According to NV Republican Party chair Amy Tarkanian, when the executive board voted to set the caucus date for Feb. 14, they were not aware of NH’s statute requiring that no other contests be held for seven days after their first-in-the-nation primary. Tarkanian quipped in a phone conversation this week, “That would have been nice to know.”

And just in case you were in a coma over the weekend, the NV GOP caucus date was moved to Feb. 4.

Senate Seats

Public Policy Polling says Rep. Shelley Berkley has moved into a tie with Sen. Dean Heller in the Nevada Senate race at 45%. In PPP’s last poll, in late July, Heller led 46-43.

Three dozen political action committees must believe it’s going to be close, because they have hedged their bets and given money to both Berkley and Heller in 2011, reports Ralston.

Politico writes a story on Sen. Harry Reid’s loyalty to the President.

YouTube Campaigns

Expect anti-Obama/Berkley/Reid videos like this one from the National Republican Senatorial Committee from (and the rest of Team GOP) for the next 12 months. (Black helicopters = nice touch.)

And expect lots of anti-Heller videos like this one from the Nevada Democratic Party and Team D.

And ads like this one from American Crossroads (aka Karl Rove, Inc.), who is apparently making a play for the Hispanic vote in Nevada (and I am sure elsewhere).

Congressional Races

Dina Titus talks to the Sun about her possible primary race against…someone.

Titus may well end up facing off with Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, in the 1st Congressional District, where she lives. It is is a heavily Democratic district with 43 percent Latino population, which would seem to favor Kihuen, but Titus is well-known and will be (as she confidently asserts) a formidable candidate.

State Sens. John Lee and Steven Horsford, both D-North Las Vegas, live in the brand spanking new 4th Congressional District. Horsford, the Democratic majority leader for the past four years, has the clear advantage in the match-up with Lee, who is a conservative Democrat.

Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, will be campaigning against Rep. Joe Heck, R-Las Vegas, in the 3rd Congressional District. Titus lost to Heck by less than 2,000 votes in 2010, but after the redistricting maps are finalized the lines and demographics will be different.

As for the 2nd District, newly elected Rep. Mark Amodei has yet to hear about a challenge, although Sharron Angle’s name keeps (inevitably) popping up as a possible primary opponent.

Ray Hagar has the run-down on Amodei’s staff hires.

Miscellaneous

Gov. Sandoval and staff sing “Home Means Nevada” in honor of Nevada Day.

Just what we need: a political reality show.

Halloween decorations are up in the Secretary of State’s Scare’s office. Ross Miller reports that this one is scaring the kids.

Also, the Governor’s mansion looks ready to go.

 

ICYMI: Mid-Week Political Round Up

By Elizabeth Crum | 1:35 pm August 24th, 2011

This “In Case You Missed It” feature was supposed to be a weekend thing, but I’ve got so many browser tabs open, I guess it is going to be semiweekly. Get caught up, Dear Readers. And comment below.

Special Election (September 13, 2011)

Ralston hosted a televised debate between Kate Marshall and Mark Amodei. Part One. Part Two. Or read our story on it.

KTNV has the early voting locations and schedules in Clark County.

Politico looks at all the lobbed bombs at Obama by the GOP.

A reporter at the conservative news site Washington Examiner writes about how (he thinks) Amodei could lose. Among other things, he cites a Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by DailyKos. Today, the same reporter heaped more coals by writing about Amodei’s changed position on the Ryan budget.

Both Amodei and Marshall tout positive reviews by the National Rifle Association.

The Marshall campaign launched a pretty scathing ad against Amodei. The NRCC continues to run equally scathing ads against Marshall (they have now spent over $500,000 on TV spots). Gloves are definitely off in this race as early voting approaches.

Amodei signed the tax pledge. Again. And American’s for Tax Reform defend the pledge on the subject of loopholes. The issue was raised by Marshall in criticisms of Amodei.

Anjeanette Damon recently questioned Amodei on tax issues on her show To the Point. When he said he had a consistent record on taxes as well as a record consistent with the tax pledge, she asked him if was fair to say he was consistent in his inconsistency.

Ralston discovered (and Tweeted) that this is not, after all, the first special House election in Nevada’s history. D.R. Ashley (R) won his with 3,691 votes back in in 1865. Fun stuff.

U.S. Senate

Political opponents Sen. Heller and Rep. Berkley work together (sorta) on the debt committee issue in D.C.

Rep. Shelley Berkley wants women in Reno to know what she has done for them. Ditto, Native Americans. She is clearly trying to win hearts and minds in northern Nevada.

Berkley spent some time in Carson City this week, too.

Heller commented. He also said he thinks Judge Russell should have disclosed his relationship with Mark Amodei in the CD-2 special election court case.

GOP Presidential Race

Romney is going to roll out his jobs plan in (you guessed it) Nevada on Labor Day weekend. Ann Romney was here this week.

@RalstonFlash Tweeted earlier this week that Rick Perry is talking to Mike Slanker (and I am sure others) about getting a ground game going here.

FiveThirtyEight did some interesting graphics on the GOP field.

Miscellaneous & Sundry

Anjeanette Damon wrote a fun piece on the many mock Twitter accounts in Nevada politics. (Are you following me on Twitter yet, peeps? @elizcrum )

Rep. Joe Heck chimed in on Libya. Earlier in the summer, he introduced a bill to pull the U.S. out of the NATO mission in Libya by cutting off funding.

Heck’s House race next year (we do not yet know who will challenge him) is anticipated to be one of the toughest in the land.

I am hearing there is an effort afoot to recall North Las Vegas Mayor Shari Buck. A group will file the necessary kick-off papers on September 7, if the energy doesn’t fizzle by then.

Sue Lowden recently spoke in Laughlin. She reflected on what she would have done differently in last year’s U.S. Senate primary (“I guess I would have tried harder to win over the vote of the Tea Party group”) and said she does not rule out a future run.

State Sen. Ruben Kihuen spoke to the AFL-CIO in Reno and was on AD’s show this week, but still has not announced that he is running for Congress next year.

You can track the Tweets of Nevada legislators on this page. Bookmark it, maybe.

 

As Deadline Looms, Some Legislators Chose To Sponsor No Bills

By Andrew Doughman | 11:44 am April 13th, 2011

CARSON CITY – The days are lengthening, but lawmakers are still finding good reason to be inside the Legislature from dawn till dusk.

This Friday is a deadline for bills to pass out of committee, leaving many legislators scurrying from committee room to committee room to keep their bills alive.

A few, though, can avoid that stress. The Legislature has more than 1,000 bills to consider this session, but several legislators did not sponsor any bills.

Assemblyman Joseph Hogan, D-Las Vegas, requested one bill last year, but it was never drafted.

He has signed on to one bill from Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, that relates to landlords and tenants in manufactured home parks.

Senator Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, requested legal staff to draft eight bills before the legislative session, but none were ever drafted.

Instead, he said, he wanted to work with colleagues to incorporate his ideas into their bills.

“I think the number of bills introduced, it’s too much,” he said. “…Our sole focus should be on job creation, diversifying the economy, education, broadening the tax base and redistricting.”

Both Hogan and Kihuen said they want to hone in on their committee work. Hogan, who has been a legislator since 2004, said this might be his “last shot” to throw his weight into staving off budget cuts he opposes.

“I’m happy with what I’m doing, and I think it’s going to do my constituents quite a bit of good,” he said.

On the other hand, Assemblyman Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, has introduced more bills than any other legislator.

He has 31 bills to his name.

That exceeds the statutory limit of bills he is allowed to introduce, but Segerblom has also picked up legislation first proposed by outgoing Democratic legislators: Sen. Terry Care, Assemblyman Harry Mortenson and Assemblyman Jerry Claborn.

He disagrees that a Legislature should restrict itself to the subjects it tackles.

“You can only talk taxes for so long,” Segerblom said. “At the end of the day, the other state’s issues have not gone away.”

Members of Nevada’s Assembly are allowed in statute to request up to 13 measures – bills, joint resolutions, concurrent resolutions, memorials and acts – and Senators are allowed up to 26 measures.

Legislative committees, constitutional officers and legislative leadership, among others, can request more measures.

The bill count for this 120-day legislative sessions is above 1,060, about on par with the past several legislative sessions.

Since the Legislature does not work most weekend days, the 120-day session is more like 90 days. Even given a grueling schedule of 14-hour workdays, that would leave little more than an hour to hear each bill equally.

Knowing that discussions of the governor’s proposed budget and the drawing of political districts will consume whole days, legislators will have to slough off some bills.

Legislators may even have to watch their pet bills die.

But at least some legislators won’t have to worry about that.

 

 

Immigration Bills Spark Heated Debate In Legislature

By Andrew Doughman | 1:10 pm April 6th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Two bills relating to illegal immigrants sparked heated debate in an Assembly committee this morning.

One from Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks, would impose penalties and restrictions on illegal immigrants in a way similar to a controversial Arizona law enacted this past year.

Assemblyman Pat Hickey, R-Reno, proposed that the state adopt the federal “E-Verify” system, an electronic database that verifies someone’s employment eligibility.

Chairwoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick, D-North Las Vegas, had to ask numerous times for both the support and opposition to keep their comments relevant to the bill.

“I want to stick to the merits of the bill because any time we single out one group or another we do a disservice to the state as a whole,” she told those listening to the hearing.

Meanwhile, observers on the social media site Twitter accused each other of racism and bigotry.

Hansen’s bill would require proof of identity to vote, restrict eligibility for Nevada’s Millennium Scholarship to U.S. citizens, prohibit non-citizens from obtaining driver’s licenses or receiving certain state benefits.

He said the bill is mainly about jobs.

“The number one issue that was confronted with was the economy and the second was illegal immigration,” Hansen said of his talks with voters while campaigning for office last year.

Hansen said that the state’s undocumented workers are preventing Nevada’s unemployed people from finding employment.

He cited figures that show Nevada has a high number of illegal immigrants. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study also found that Nevada ranks No. 1 in the nation in terms of the percentage of illegal immigrants comprising a state’s total population.

Hansen’s bill would cost the state hundreds of thousands of dollars if passed into law. This is because it would require state agencies to spend more money to comply with the bills numerous requirements.

“You have half the kitchen sink here is what you have,” Kirkpatrick said of Hansen’s bill.

Hansen’s bill also would require the state to use the federal “E-Verify” database that verifies someone’s employment eligibility.

Hickey’s bill would require contractors bidding for state public works projects to use that system.

“I think this is a small first step,” he said. “This is not talking about all employers in this state, but starting with public works projects, which are tax-payer-funded ones.”

Opponents to the bill said that the federal database upon which E-Verify relies is rife with error. Contractors also objected to the language of the bill because it would make them responsible not only for their organizations, but for their subcontractors as well.

“The E-verify system is an attempt to try to do something that we support, but it has just not proven to be effective,” said Warren Hardy, lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors of Nevada.

The bills sparked reactions from the numerous Hispanic legislators who sit on the Assembly Government Affairs committee.

Assemblywomen Teresa Benitez-Thompson, D-Reno, and Lucy Flores, D-Las Vegas, said that anyone testifying should restrict testimony to immigrants rather than Hispanics.

Others suggested that the bills would polarize the Hispanic electorate.

“It’s because of Republicans like [Assemblymen] Hickey & Hansen why R’s will have hard time making inroads with Hispanic voters in NV,” said Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, via his Twitter account.

The government affairs committee took no immediate action on either bill.

 

Recession Leading To Exodus Of University Faculty

By Andrew Doughman | 10:14 am February 23rd, 2011

Professor Michael Young began to think last year that he should look for a job outside of Nevada.

It was not the craziest thought; the recession was in full swing and legislators were slashing the higher education budget.

Young was a departmental director at the Desert Research Institute. Now he’s an associate director at the University of Texas, Austin.

During the recession, Nevada has had a difficult time keeping research professors like Young.

The best students already seem to be leaving for out-of-state colleges. The same thing seems to be happening with faculty.

“It turns out, ironically, that the state of Texas has big economic problems as well,” Young said in a phone interview. “But there’s a very fundamentally different level of understanding in terms of what the university does for the economy and for the future of the state [in Texas]. You don’t really hear that a lot in Nevada.”

What you do hear is the president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas telling faculty that the university may go bankrupt. You hear Gov. Brian Sandoval proposing a $163 million cut to the state’s universities and colleges.

At the same time, Nevada’s public figures have championed economic diversification through hiring innovative faculty, providing start-up funds and building a research engine. These professors will presumably leverage millions in federal grants and build Reno or Las Vegas into high-tech research hubs where start-ups will provide manufacturing jobs.

It sounds great. One day we will talk of Silicon Valley, Seattle and Reno as the tech hubs of the West.

But then reality sets in.

“It’s hard to imagine a young faculty member … why would that person go to a university where 30 percent of its budget is being cut?” Young asked. “It’s not an incentive that a lot of young people would take.”

Young said he left Nevada for various reasons, among them the state’s fiscal woes.

Steven Wells, president of the DRI, said that the institution has lost 21 faculty since 2008.

“We’ve had people who have been here five to ten years suddenly leaving and our investment in them goes with them,” he said. “Michael Young is a prime example. I tried to do whatever I could to keep him.”

Wells said that researchers like Young aren’t tenured. They support themselves through grants they receive largely from the federal government.

But the DRI’s administrative costs do come from the state. The state must also attract graduate students to work under researchers like Young.

“These researchers within these institutes have to believe that there’s a future here and that the state is interested in bolstering the fledgling research infrastructure that we have,” said Jim Croce, director at the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization.

Data provided by the Nevada System of Higher Education showed that Young had brought about $3 million into Nevada via grants during the past two years. He’s just one of many professors at the DRI, UNLV and the University of Nevada, Reno who collectively brought in millions of dollars to the state and have since left.

Where’s the money?

The recession has left the state’s coffers running dry, the federal stimulus is running out and “new spending” are dirty words at the Legislature.

A Senate committee on economic development heard testimony this week from Croce, who talked about expanding his organization’s link between university research and the renewable energy sector.

Senators immediately wanted to know the cost.

“Does that mean investing general funds into the system so that they have the capacity in their budget to go out and recruit their researchers?” asked Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno.

Croce replied that yes, Nevada would be “literally buying” faculty to come to Nevada.

Sen. Ruben Kihuen, D-Las Vegas, followed by asking what the state would need to do.

“At a minimum we have to stop the bleeding and make sure we have a healthy NSHE base,” he said.

Higher ed needs “drastic reform”

Others argue that the higher education system already has enough money.

“You’re really good at coming and asking for money,” said Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, to Dan Klaich, NSHE chancellor, at a higher education hearing this week. “But what we need now is help and places where we can make reform. Drastic reform.”

Her comments echo those of the governor’s senior adviser, Dale Erquiaga.

“You’ve got to have money to spend money,” he said during a January press conference.

Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki said that the universities can help with economic development, even as their budgets shrink.

“It can be done today,” he said. “It’s about directing resources.”

He said that universities can help faculty gear their research toward commercialization.

Nonetheless, those same faculty have been and still are leaving.

“It’s not like you flip a light switch and you get your research back,” Young said. “To me that’s probably one of the saddest parts of the story. …When the economy is doing well, the state is going to continue to suffer through this because the research infrastructure is gone.”