(Mark Ciavola) – This month, a list of primary election endorsements appears on NevadaImpact.com, a joint effort of Rob Schlegel, QVegas and Las Vegas Night Beat. These endorsements are also published in the current issue of both aforementioned publications. Under the guise of helping “the LGBT community be better informed about candidates,” Rob Schlegel and his cohorts have gone out of their way to continue the long history of spiteful partisanship by the so-called leaders in our community.
Schlegel endorses in 47 of the 67 races he lists, backing 50 Democrats and 8 Republicans. He even used three of the eight Republican endorsements to take petty swipes at the candidates, and ripped another half-dozen GOP candidates just for fun.
Now more than ever the gay community needs guidance on issues that come from an objective source. Democrats continually fail to deliver on campaign promises made to the gay community. Congress has been under Democratic control since 2006 and they have yet to enact legislation that is important to the community: gays are still kicked out of the military for their sexuality via Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT), the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is still in place.
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – factually contrary to Mr. Schlegel’s assertion that Harry Reid had passed it on behalf of the gay community – still languishes in committee, and our President had police push media away from LGBT service members protesting DADT at the White House just last month. As publications that claim to represent our entire community, QVegas and Las Vegas Night Beat should be embarrassed by their inclusion of this blanket-endorsement of the Democratic Party.
Some highlights of Schlegel’s ill-informed endorsements include a mockery of Sue Lowden.
“While we’re endorsing Sen. Reid, “ Schlegel writes, “if it came down to a choice of a Republican, throw in a chicken and Sue Lowden would get our vote.” Is this the way to refer to a candidate who was a leader in overturning sodomy laws in Nevada during the 1993 legislature? Sue was also a strong supporter of the Log Cabin Republicans when they were relevant in Nevada and has a strong belief in inclusion within the Republican Party – something Schlegel should know as a former Republican himself.
In the U.S. Congressional District 1 race, Schlegel writes, “There isn’t a primary in this race because every Republican with any intelligence will be voting for Shelley Berkley.”
There is a Republican Primary in this race, because many CD-1 residents are fed-up with Berkley’s unconditional support of Obama’s policies and Pelosi’s agenda in the House. Berkley proposes to stand up for seniors and the Jewish community, yet fell in line on a health care bill which robs seniors of much-needed Medicare funds. Furthermore, she has remained largely silent on Obama’s mistreatment of our closest ally in the Middle East – Israel.
While Berkley is a popular incumbent, Schlegel makes it seem as if she’s running unopposed. It should also be noted that Dina Titus was praised in the CD-3 race, despite her complete lack of accomplishments – including a complete cave to Pelosi on Obamacare after initially pledging to oppose it.
For Governor, Schlegel fails to surprise anyone.
“(Rory Reid) did endorse Question 2 back in 2000-2002 but otherwise, he’s been a great friend of our community.” Most of the spite coming from Rob Schlegel is directed at Republicans that are supposedly bad on gay issues. However, he has no problem endorsing Rory Reid, who openly supported the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage – the community’s most important issue. I guess the “D” next to his name is sufficient for Schlegel’s stamp of approval.
For State Controller, hardly the sexiest race in the 2010 mid-terms, Schlegel feels the need to opine: “Kim Wallin, the Democrat incumbent, doesn’t have a primary and there’s not a Republican qualified for the job.”
I suppose a Republican candidate who is a CPA, President of the Nevada Society of CPAs – Las Vegas Chapter, Member of the American Institute of CPAs, Member of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce and former Adjunct Professor at UNLV, who has experience in the public and private sector with domestic and international companies as an accountant, is not qualified. His name is Barry Herr.
“Perhaps had Mr. Schlegel contacted me to discuss my qualifications,” said Herr, “he would be in a position to better justify his comments.” Herr is right. Schlegel didn’t contact any Republican candidates for this piece.
In the Assembly District 2 race, Schlegel has no Republican endorsement, but adds, “We’ll tell you John Hambrick is a jackass.”
This level of immaturity is inexcusable. Not only does Schlegel not explain why he apparently dislikes Assemblyman Hambrick, but there is no mention of the incumbent’s young, political up-start primary opponent, Annie Black. Both Hambrick and Black have been strong supporters of Right Pride, the only gay conservative organization in Nevada. Also in this primary is Mark Slotta, a gay Republican, who received no attention from Schlegel or QVegas.
“It’s unfortunate that opinions are voiced when the writer never met the person involved,” said Assemblyman John Hambrick. “I would be more than willing to sit down and talk with (Schlegel).”
Annie Black commented, “(Schlegel) is doing his readers a horrible disservice, advising them about candidates based purely on his personal assumptions. If he is going to represent these as legitimate endorsements then he should conduct them in such a manner, and have some honor when dealing with matters that affect people who trust him.”
All three GOP candidates in this race believe gay Republicans and gay conservatives deserve a seat at the table, which is a far more open-minded view than many of our gay “leaders” hold.
Further down the Democratic check-list is the State Senate District 22 race. There are no endorsements in this race, but Schlegel warns readers not to vote for Lynn Stewart or Calanit Atia.
Schlegel has not spoken to Calanit Atia, so once again his disdain for a candidate is unfounded. “I have not had the pleasure of being contacted by anyone from the magazine,” said Atia, who is a small business owner working in the entertainment industry. “Perhaps the nice people at QVegas should have contacted a few of my entertainers before forming such an opinion.”
It seems to me that if Schlegel doesn’t like Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, he should at least attempt to suggest an alternative from the three other Republicans in the race: Calanit Atia, Scott Chappell and Duane Christy.
Schlegel also chose not to endorse in the Las Vegas Township Constable race, despite the fact that Peter Gariano has been a long-time supporter of the gay community. In his 21-year law enforcement career, he has attended numerous Gay Pride events, including this year when he and his entire family joined Right Pride at the parade.
Perhaps Schlegel should have researched these races, before offering recommendations in print. “I would have appreciated the opportunity to meet with QVegas before they made their decisions,” said Gariano. “The fact that they chose not to support me does not change my views on equal rights for members of the LGBT community, whom I will continue to support.”
Yet another instance of Schlegel’s biased endorsements came in the Justice of the Peace Las Vegas Township Dept. 14 race, when he proclaimed, “No endorsement in this race but don’t vote for Bernie Zadrowski.”
Again Schlegel does not explain his outwardly hostile comments. Bernie Zadrowski has been incredibly supportive of Right Pride, and doesn’t have a discriminating bone in his body. As chairman of the Clark County Republican Party he never made social issues the central focus. “It doesn’t really matter what positions I have held or stated, because any group with an agenda will ascribe positions to you based on your general political philosophy whether it is true or not,” said Zadrowski, who is a regular guest at Right Pride meetings.
Conspicuously absent from Schlegel’s list of endorsements are conservative Republicans Assemblyman Ed Goedhart and Assembly candidate Dan Hill.
Goedhart broke rank as the only Republican member of the State Assembly to vote for the override of the Governor’s veto of the Domestic Partnership bill last summer. Dan Hill, an openly-gay Republican candidate running in Assembly 29, has been endorsed by Right Pride. Neither of these men have primaries, but that didn’t stop Schlegel from announcing his support for a number of non-primary Democrats. It is clear where his priorities lie.
Schlegel endorses Republican Dennis Nolan because he “was the lone Republican to vote ‘yes’ for domestic partnerships,” but that is incorrect. State Senators Mike McGinness and Randolph Townsend, and Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, were the only Republicans to vote for SB 283 as a bill, and again for the veto override. State Senators Dennis Nolan and Dean Rhoads initially voted no for domestic partnerships.
During election years, readers pay attention to publications. Words carry weight. The gay community in Las Vegas deserves representation and advice that is sincere, honest, transparent, and reliable. The endorsements that Schlegel issued last month via QVegas and Las Vegas Night Beat represent the worst in politics: opaque backroom agreements with little or no research and a byline attributing the endorsements to one of the most left-wing, partisan individuals in the community.
What we need from publications that claim to be non-partisan is objective endorsements in both parties, based on facts and research, and not the partisan hackery of Mr. Schlegel.
(Mr. Mark Ciavola is president of Right Pride, a Las Vegas-based organization of gay conservatives)