(Chuck Muth) – By a quirk of fate, no Democrat or third-party candidate filed to run for the Nevada state Assembly District 32 seat in Washoe County which is being vacated by conservative Assemblyman Don Gustavson who hopes on Tuesday to become state Sen. Don Gustavson.
As such, a dumb provision in Nevada law forced both Republican candidates – Jodi Stephens and Ira Hansen – into the general election rather than deciding this race in the GOP primary. That’s just wrong.
If the other parties fail to field one of their own candidates in a race, why should they then get to vote and determine who the Republican candidate is going to be? Does anyone really think Democrats are inclined to vote for the same GOP candidate in the general election that conservative Republican primary voters would have voted for in the primary? Of course not.
But it is what it is. And the choice in AD 32 is between two Republicans who, on the surface, appear to be very similar. So let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?
Jodi Stephens’ claim to government fame is that of a former, well-liked staffer to Gov. Jim Gibbons who says she was the author of Gibbons’ empowerment schools proposal which gives more authority and school choice to public school principals – but no new authority or school choice to parents.
In other words, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Anyway, the Reno Gazette-Journal (RGJ) has a decidedly liberal editorial page. And it has endorsed Stephens in this race because “Stephens says the state already has gotten rid of most of the waste in government.”
Really? Is she channeling Tom DeLay?
Recall that back in 2005, then-Republican House Majority Leader DeLay infamously and ridiculously said “that Republicans have done so well in cutting spending that he declared an ‘ongoing victory,’ and said there is simply no fat left to cut in the federal budget”? (Washington Times, 9/14/05)
Conservative members of the Republican Study Committee responded to DeLay by producing “Operation Offset,” a detailed list of $543 billion worth of budget cuts which could have been enacted to offset the cost of Hurricane Katrina relief.
In other words, those such as Ms. Stephens and Rep. DeLay who say government waste has already been eliminated just aren’t looking hard enough.
About Those Job-Killing Taxes
In a statement of candidacy published recently by the RGJ, Stephens declared that she will work to remove “job-killing taxes” that impede the growth of small businesses while adding that she believes we “can create Nevada jobs by preserving and promoting our low-tax, business-friendly environment.”
And yet in that same statement of candidacy, she didn’t call for repeal of the modified business tax – a penalty assessed against large employers for each person they hire – or even mentioning whether or not she would vote to extend a doubling of that tax which was imposed by the ’09 Legislature.
Others have told me the Ms. Stephens has ruled out voting for an extension of any of the supposedly “sunsetted” taxes passed last year, but it should be of concern that in her official statement of candidacy in her district’s biggest newspaper, no mention of this critical issue whatsoever. Nor can I find any such declaration on her official campaign website. Why not?
Not only can we not find any written statement on her website that Ms. Stephens has ruled out an extension of the modified business tax or any of the other taxes and fees passed last session, she’s also refused to rule out voting for any and all other efforts to increase taxes or fees next year if elected.
Read My Lips, Not My Signature
Indeed, Ms. Stephens has refused to sign the 25-year-old Taxpayer Protection Pledge that has already been signed by well over 1,000 fiscally conservative state legislators and governors in the U.S. from sea to shining sea – including her old boss, Jim Gibbons.
For the record, of the seven Republicans who voted for that $292 million tax hike on tourists last legislative session, none had signed the Tax Pledge. Of the seven who voted against that $292 million tax hike on tourists, all were Pledge signers. What’s that tell you?
Equally disturbing, however, is Mr. Stephens’ stated reason for not signing the Pledge, as articulated in a story this week in the Reno News & Review (RNR).
“If I signed a no-tax pledge from an organization back in D.C.,” Stephens is quoted as saying, “that would take me out of the vote, take me out of being part of the solution.”
This is the same argument being made by special interests and lobbyists who want tax hikes next year, Democrat legislative leaders, and various members of “Republicans for Reid” who are backing (and banking) her campaign. A couple points here:
1.) Saying you won’t sign the Pledge because it’s “from an organization back in D.C.” is one of the lamest of lame excuses for not signing the Pledge.
First, that’s like saying you won’t say the Pledge of Allegiance because it was written by a socialist from Boston. Does Ms. Stephens refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance?
Secondly, the Tax Pledge may have been originally written by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform back when Reagan was president, but the exact wording of the Pledge makes it crystal clear that the Pledge is made to “the taxpayers of the 32nd District of the state of Nevada and all the people of this state.” D.C. has nothing to do with it.
2.) Yes, the purpose of the Pledge is to take tax hikes off the table and take Pledge signers out of any such vote. That’s the point.
Carson City’s lobbyists want higher taxes and have warned candidates such as Ms. Stephens not to sign the Pledge or they won’t contribute to their campaigns. Stephens opted not to sign the Pledge and has been generously rewarded by the special interest lobbyists and trade associations and other institutional donors to the tune of just under $70,000 worth of campaign contributions.
In other words, the lobbyists are already controlling Ms. Stephens – and she’s not even elected yet!
3.) Worse, claiming that signing the Tax Pledge would “take me out of being part of the solution” means she believes raising taxes has to be part of the solution.
Hello. If you believe that, you can be a moderate Republican but you can’t claim to be a fiscally-conservative one.
As a side note and to provide a little further context, RNR endorsed 13 Democrats running for state and federal office this week – including Harry Reid, Rory Reid, Nancy Price, Ross Miller, Kim Wallin and Catherine Cortez-Masto. It only endorsed two Republicans. Stephens was one; the other is a Republican government worker who also hasn’t signed the Tax Pledge and has also been anointed by the same cabal of Republicans for Reid, lobbyists and other establishment special interests. What do they say about being known by the company you keep?
And Then There’s Ira Hansen
Mr. Hansen, on the other hand, is a master plumber who has owned a plumbing and heating business in the Reno area for years and has been a conservative radio talk-show host and newspaper columnist.
If there’s one thing we need in Carson City in this age of nation-leading unemployment, it’s small businessmen who actually know (a) how to create jobs, and (b) what it is that government is doing that inhibits small businessmen from creating jobs.
And if there’s one thing Republicans in Carson City need, it’s a principled conservative who can actually articulate effectively the conservative message to the general public.
With Hansen, we’d get both a master plumber and a master communicator. A critically important two-fer.
My hesitation in fully supporting Mr. Hansen to this point, however, has been the fact that he, too, has opted not to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. His reasoning, though, is very, very different from Ms. Stephens.
A SAGE Reason
Mr. Hansen isn’t worried about the Pledge being originally drafted by Mr. Norquist, or because he’s dying to have a “seat at the table” when legislators start debating which taxes to raise, on whom, and by how much next year.
Mr. Hansen’s concern is the perception that supporting a revenue-neutral tax reform proposal found in the SAGE Commission recommendations would be considered by some to be a violation of his Pledge even though everyone involved with the Pledge agrees that voting for revenue-neutral tax reform is definitely NOT a violation of the Pledge.
Still, Mr. Hansen’s reservations about the Pledge are over potential perceptions by constituents and how supporting that one provision in the SAGE Commission Report might be misconstrued and used against him in the future.
My position is that ANY vote can be twisted and perverted in a campaign, and that his concerns over this one aspect dealing with the SAGE recommendations are exaggerated; however, it’s far more legitimate that complaining that the Pledge was written by fiscal conservatives in Washington, D.C.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that when push comes to shove – and the special interests and Democrat majority in the Legislature are going to push REAL HARD for tax hikes next year! – I believe Mr. Hansen will stand stronger and taller against those doing the pushing than Ms. Stephens, who has already waffled and dissembled and sold out on the tax issue.
Nevada is a state built on playing the odds.
And the odds in this race are that Jodi Stephens will be so enamored with being allowed to sit and the “big people’s” table and playing let’s make a deal that she’ll vote for some bad deals for Nevada’s taxpayers, citizens and small businesses to earn the praise and adoration of the “establishment” which is bankrolling her campaign.
On the other hand, the odds are much stronger that Mr. Hansen won’t be swayed and co-opted by those in Carson City whose job is to blow smoke up your skirt and fund your campaigns.
While we find Ms. Stephens to be smart, personable and able to talk the conservative talk, we believe small business owner Mr. Hansen is better qualified to address the job-creating issues the Legislature will face next year, and is the more philosophically solid conservative who will walk the walk and take the heat next year when it gets turned up in the legislative kitchen.
Vote for Ira Hansen in Assembly District 32.
(Note: This is a personal endorsement only and does not in any way, shape, form or fashion reflect the opinion of Citizen Outreach, Citizen Outreach Foundation or Nevada News & Views)