Editorial: Primary candidates we recommend

Early voting begins Saturday for Nevada’s party primaries, so we take this opportunity to offer our two cents worth.

Since none of the candidates for major statewide offices on the Democratic slate would get our backing come November, so we will address only the GOP primary.

For governor the choice is easy and obvious, Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt has proven himself a thorough conservative, fighting for states’ rights while attorney general with principled litigation. He has promised to work to repeal the burdensome Commerce Tax passed by lawmakers in 2015.

Laxalt says he will work to reduce state spending to keep the tax burden bearable.

For U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Dean Heller has a proven track record. He helped write the tax reform bill and has worked to undo the ObamaCare debacle. He has for years pressed for legislation that would deny members of Congress pay checks until they pass a budget.

Heller has also pushed for a Balanced Budget Amendment that would ultimately force Washington to live within its means instead of running up billions in deficits and trillions in debt.

As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee he has worked to eliminate the VA disability claims backlog.

In the 2nd Congressional District — which includes northern Lyon county and all of Douglas, Carson City, Storey, Washoe, Humboldt, Pershing, Churchill, Lander, Eureka and Elko counties — Republican incumbent Mark Amodei deserves to be returned to Washington, where he has faithfully stood up for Nevadans by working to keep taxes low and regulations less burdensome.

Amodei has fought the efforts of past administrations to limit economic and recreational access to public lands.

In the 4th Congressional District — which includes part of northern Clark County, southern part of Lyon County and all of White Pine, Nye, Mineral, Esmeralda, and Lincoln counties — former Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy deserves another chance to represent the residents of Southern Nevada.

After serving one term in Congress, the Mesquite native was narrowly defeated by North Las Vegas Democrat Ruben Kihuen, who is not running for re-election after facing sexual harassment allegations.

Hardy will continue to fight for lower taxes and the creation of an economic environment that is conducive to the growth of job-creating businesses. He also promises to work toward balancing the federal budget for a change.

Though state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson did vote with the Republican majority to raise taxes, his experience and otherwise conservative bona fides make him the choice for lieutenant governor, a job that includes presiding over the state Senate. He has been endorsed by Laxalt.

Roberson has worked to provide Nevadans with school choice, consolidated government agencies and regulations and worked to save money by reforming  collective bargaining and public employee pensions.

Republican Wes Duncan, formerly Laxalt’s first assistant attorney general, deserves a promotion to attorney general, the state’s lawyer. Duncan helped Laxalt in his many lawsuits defending the rights of Nevada against federal encroachment. He left the Assembly to join Laxalt’s office and left the office upon filing for election.

Duncan promised to make Nevada a safer place to raise a family, including working toward better handling of mental health issues. He once proposed repealing the state’s renewable portfolio standard that has driven up power bills. He has been endorsed by a number of police chiefs and district attorneys.

Barbara Cegavske deserves to be re-elected secretary of state, a job she has handled well — maintaining election integrity, streamlining business licensing and maintaining official records of the state. She has worked to improve the existing electronic voting system. Republican Cegavske has also worked to assure Nevada’s military members who are stationed overseas may vote.

Nevada’s next state treasurer should be Republican Bob Beers, a CPA  who has served in five sessions of the Nevada Legislature and is a former Las Vegas City Councilman. He was one of the “Fearless Fifteen” who stopped Gov. Kenny Guinn from placing a gross receipts tax.

The treasurer’s job is to hold the states purse strings. Beers knows how to do that.

A version of this editorial appeared this week in some of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

Advertisements

Editorial: Let the political parties choose their candidates without the state’s interference

A change in election law in the 2015 Legislature has some claiming they are being disenfranchised.

Previously, when the state-run Democratic and Republican primaries resulted in only one of the two major parties having contested primaries, the top two vote earners in the contested primary would advance to the November General Election or, if only two candidates sought a seat, there would be no primary and both would be on the November ballot.

But Senate Bill 499 changed the law to now read: “If a major political party has two or more candidates for a particular office, the person who receives the highest number of votes at the primary election must be declared the nominee of that major political party for the office.”

Thus, for example, if there are only Republicans seeking an office, one of them is the party nominee and appears on the ballot in November, leaving Democrats and independents and those of the minor parties in the district little choice save the one Republican Party members handed them.

The bill also moved back the deadline for independent and minor party candidates to qualify for the General Election from June to July, so a Democrat could still file as an independent but not as a nominee of the party.

In one state Senate race and three Assembly races there are candidates on the June 14 primary for only one of the two major political parties, according to press accounts.

The change in law creates some different dynamics.

Take for example Assembly District 19, which includes Mesquite. Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Edwards is being challenged in the primary by Republican Connie Foust. Only 39 percent of the district is Republican.

Edwards has the distinction of voting for most of the $1.4 billion in tax hikes in 2015 before voting against them.

Conceivably Edwards would have a better chance of re-election if he faced Foust in a General Election with Democrats and others also voting rather than in a GOP-only primary.

Foust is thumping on the tax issue in her campaign against Edwards. “The current incumbent broke his promise when he said, ‘Now is not the time to raise taxes’, and then proceeded to vote for tax increases in 26 out of 32 tax bills!” Foust’s campaign website declares.

Similar dynamics could be a factor in other races and alter the outcome of the election.

As originally introduced SB499 was a weird form of open primary. All candidates of all parties would have appeared on a single primary ballot and the top two vote recipients would advance to the general, unless they both were of the same party.

As signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval the gutted bill now just changes minor party and independent candidate filing deadlines and allows only one Democrat or one Republican to advance to November.

This is why some are saying they are being disenfranchised by having limited choices.

Frankly, lawmakers are the last people who should be telling the parties how to choose their candidates. The parties are private entities that should choose their candidates in any way they see fit — privately funded caucuses, primaries, smoke-filled backrooms or “American Idol”-style voting via text message or arm-wrestling competition.

The state doesn’t conduct primaries for the Libertarian, American Independent, Green or Communist parties, why do it for just two?

Not only is the U.S. Constitution silent on political parties, our Founders were actually disdainful of political parties.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1789, “I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other,” John Adams wrote in 1780. “This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

Let the parties choose their candidates without lawmakers dabbling in the process.

A version of this editorial appeared this past week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record. It ran as a column in the Elko Daily Free Press.

Nevada primary voting in 2014 (R-J photo)

Headlines don’t always tell the whole story

Headlines all across the country today declared that Bernie Sanders won the Michigan primary, but that depends on your definition of won.

Sanders picked up a point and half more primary voters than Hillary Clinton, but what counts is delegates. Michigan awards 130 delegates to the Democratic nominating convention during its primary, giving Sanders 65 delegates to Clinton’s 58. But the state also has 17 superdelegates, many of whom are already committed to Clinton.

This is how Politico scores the Michigan delegate outcome:

poiticomich

So, Hillary actually “won” Michigan.

Though the morning paper got around to running a small graphic showing the delegate counts so far, it did not yet have all of the late night results and thus was out of date by the time it hit the driveway.

Here is the current Wall Street Journal delegate count showing Trump leading Cruz by just 99 delegates:

WSJdelegates

 

Trump picked up 71 delegates Tuesday to Cruz’s 56, while Clinton added 87 delegates to Sanders’ 69.

 

 

Editorial: Lawmakers should not opt for presidential primaries instead of caucuses

Here we go again. Teeth are being gnashed. Hands are being wrung. People are whining about how unseemly, uncouth and unAmerican the very thought of a presidential caucus is compared to a nice aseptic primary.

The Legislature dithers.

Assembly Bill 302 would change the presidential caucuses of the two major parties to primaries in February, though why the Democrats need bother is another question entirely.

Senate Bill 421 would move all statewide primaries to the last Tuesday in February of even-numbered years, which would mean candidates would have to file a year before the General Election and make the general election season run from March through October. Hopefully, that is going nowhere fast. That is more politics than any of us could tolerate.

Republican state Sen. James Settelmeyer of Minden, a co-sponsor of SB421, has been quoted as saying his constituents “didn’t feel they had the ability to speak freely or felt intimidated by the (caucus) process,” and that voting “is a private thing, and I don’t believe the caucus is private.”

Unlike primaries, in which people show up sometime during the day and take a few minutes to step behind the veil of a voting machine, caucuses typically take place on Saturday and can involve hours of breaking up into precinct meetings, debating candidate qualification and voting by a show of hands or some other public expression of support.

Republic caucus meeting in Las Vegas high school in 2012. (Getty Images)

Frankly, political parties should nominate their candidates by whatever means they choose without interference from the state or funding by the taxpayers. By the way, the Australian, or secret, ballot was not widely used in this country until the late 1800s.

After the Nevada Republican presidential caucuses in 2012, it was widely reported that it wasn’t exactly a well-oiled machine. There were long delays, breakdowns in communication, misfires and miscues. One person tweeted: “GOP organization — an oxymoron.”

At the time people complained that they actually were required to publicly vote and actually talk to other human beings about politics. You’d think they’d been required to mud wrestle each other.

Back in 2008 Democrat Dina Titus, now in Congress, promised to introduce a bill to change from presidential caucuses to primaries in Nevada. “This notion of neighbors getting together with neighbors to talk about politics, that’s just not Nevada,” she said. “What I found in my caucus is that the meeting didn’t lead to collaboration, cooperation and a good discussion. It led to hostility. It’s too complicated.” And she was a professor of political science — another oxymoron.

Columbia School of Law professor and election law expert Nathaniel Persily once observed, “The move toward primaries has transferred power away from political parties to the media, who are then in a position to describe someone as having momentum.” We agree.

In fact, current state law has the two major parties permanently ensconced, conducting primaries for them and paying costs and dictating when they will occur, while other minor parties must fend for themselves in conventions or caucuses to select their candidates. The Democrats and the Republicans should do the same. Perhaps, with real competition one of them might be overtaken by one of those minor parties.

Maybe we should bring back smoke-filled rooms with ward heelers arm wrestling and cajoling and making deals. Maybe then we would get candidates who stand for principles instead of hollow platitudes and slogans appealing to the widest possible range of slack-jawed dullards too simple minded to express an opinion in public and actually have to defend it.

Actually, we sometimes think Thomas Jefferson had the right idea: “I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

The state should remove itself as far as possible from the conduct of all political parties, major or minor.

A version of this editorial appears this past week in the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel,  Sparks Tribune and the Lincoln County Record.

(The front page story in today’s Las Vegas newspaper reads more like an editorial than a news article.)

Let the political parties decide how, when and where to nominate their candidates

R-J photo from 2012 caucuses

Here we go again. Teeth are being gnashed. Hands are being wrung. People are whining about how unseemly, uncouth and unAmerican the very thought of a presidential caucus is compared to a nice aseptic primary.

As the Legislature dithers on this topic, it warranted a story on the front page today in the Las Vegas newspaper, including the absurd claim that some presidential campaigns are threatening to skip the Nevada Republican caucus due to fears that the libertarian-leaning party is stacked in favor of Rand Paul, son of Ron Paul who finished second in 2012. (Side observation, the story warrants the front page in print, but I defy you to track it down online. It is relegated to the “Today’s headlines” bone yard.)

Assembly Bill 302 would change the presidential caucuses of the two major parties to primaries in February, though why the Democrats need bother is another question entirely.

Senate Bill 421 would move all statewide primaries to the last Tuesday in February of even-numbered years, which would mean candidates would have to file a year before the General Election and make the general election season run from March through October. Hopefully, that is going nowhere fast. That is more politics than even I could stand.

The paper quotes Republican state Sen. James Settelmeyer of Minden, a co-sponsor of SB421, as saying his constituents “didn’t feel they had the ability to speak freely or felt intimidated by the process,” and that voting “is a private thing, and I don’t believe the caucus is private.”

No, the political parties nominate their candidates. They should nominate them in whatever way they choose without interference from the state or funding by the taxpayers. And, by the way, the Australian, or secret, ballot was not widely used in this country until the late 1800s.

After attending the Republican presidential caucus in 2012, I reported that it wasn’t exactly a well-oiled machine. There were long delays, breakdowns in communication, misfires and miscues. In fact, 20 minutes into it I sent out a tweet or twit or whatever saying: “GOP organization — an oxymoron.”

Yes, people complained that they actually were required to publicly vote and actually talk to other human beings about politics. You’d think they’d been required to mud wrestle each other.

Back in 2008 Democrat Dina Titus, now in Congress, promised to introduce a bill to change from presidential caucuses to primaries in Nevada. “This notion of neighbors getting together with neighbors to talk about politics, that’s just not Nevada,” she said. “What I found in my caucus is that the meeting didn’t lead to collaboration, cooperation and a good discussion. It led to hostility. It’s too complicated.” And she was a professor of political science — another oxymoron.

I used that quote in a column in which I talked about Columbia School of Law professor and election law expert Nathaniel Persily saying, “The move toward primaries has transferred power away from political parties to the media, who are then in a position to describe someone as having momentum.” I agreed.

In fact, state law has the two major parties permanently ensconced, while other parties must fend for themselves in conventions or caucuses to select their candidates. The Democrats and the Republicans should do the same. Perhaps, with real competition one of them might be overtaken by Curmudgocrats or the Latter-day Whigs.

It is time to scrap the idea of primaries and caucuses. Bring back smoke-filled rooms with ward heelers arm wrestling and cajoling and making deals. Maybe then we would get candidates who stand for principles instead of hollow platitudes and slogans appealing to the widest possible range of slack-jawed dullards too simple minded to express an opinion in public and actually have to defend it.

Actually, I think Thomas Jefferson had the right idea:

“I am not a Federalist, because I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

 

 

 

 

 

Legislature should butt out of dictating to political parties

A bill has been introduced in Carson City to keep Nevada “First in the West,” by establishing major political party presidential primaries in January of an election year.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, who introduced the  bill Monday, was quoted as saying, “The state has enjoyed the media attention and focus on issues that are important to Nevada.”

Senate Bill 212 would provide “in certain circumstances for a presidential preference primary election to be held in conjunction with the statewide primary election; revising the date of the statewide primary election to the Tuesday immediately preceding the last Tuesday in January of each even-numbered year” or earlier, if some other state jumps the gun.

Instead of having state and local partisan races last a few months in the summer and fall, they’d stretch out for more than a year, because campaigning would have to start months before the primary.

Legislative building in Carson City

The Reno Gazette-Journal editorialized that a presidential primary may make sense, but a January statewide primary is just too darned early.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal’s resident pundit, when he’s not working for a TV station, gleefully proclaimed: “Best of all? The party-run caucuses would be eliminated, and along with them the mistakes that come when political parties try to run ballot-counting operations.”

He concluded that, “But having had a taste of early presidential candidate picking, Nevada should keep its newfound clout.”

No one, but no one has stepped back and asked the one vital question: What business is it of the Democrat-dominated state Legislature as to how or when any political party nominates its candidates?

They won’t have a primary for the Libertarian, Green, Independent American or Communist parties, will they?

A political party should be free to choose its nominees in any way they see fit — primary (paid for by the party, not the taxpayers who are members of some other party or no party), caucus, convention, smoke-filled back room or “American Idol”-style voting via text message.

Political parties in Nevada have become largely irrelevant. Candidates pull on a cloak of party identity and self-select. The same for party members who simply sign up with the registrar of voters and instantly become party members without ever attending a meeting of the membership or voting on a platform or even stating a political philosophy.

Now-Gov. Brian Sandoval did not go to the Republican Party leadership in 2010 and say Jim Gibbons needed to be ousted. No, he put his name on the ballot, ran a campaign dominated by paid consultants and television advertising and fliers in the mail. He was elected by nominal Republicans, and is governing as a nominal Republican.

As for the value of a January primary — and all that media attention — to the typical Nevadan, I don’t see it.

It will just mean more money stuffed into the overstuffed pockets of people like Channel 3’s owner Jim Rogers and the hotels that will host visiting candidates.

But the bottom line is: The Legislature has no business telling any political party how and when to choose their nominees. Butt out.

Or they could just declare all races non-partisan — like the current Las Vegas City Council primary. No official party designation will appear on the ballot, but the Clark County GOP has endorsed three registered Republicans: Bob Beers, Stavros Anthony and Suzette LaGrange. That is the party’s prerogative.

The state should not be controlling the political party processes.

I recall how Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, during his term in office but prior to his term in prison, plotted to eliminate the Republican Party by going to an open primary system. When the smoke cleared, the first open primary governor was Dave Treen, a Republican.

Today, the Republican Party holds the House, Senate and the governorship.

Hmmmm, do you think the Democrat-controlled Legislature might entertain an open primary system?