(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Democratic state Senator Joyce Woodhouse and Republican challenger Michael Roberson debated the budget, taxes and unjustified political attacks today in a race viewed as critical by both parties for the upcoming 2011 legislative session.
Woodhouse, running for a second term in Clark District 5, said the mailers sent out by the Nevada State Democratic Party attacking Roberson did not come from her campaign or have her review.
Roberson, an attorney, said the misstatements about his campaign should be an embarrassment for Woodhouse and the Democratic Party.
“I don’t have a voting record,” he said. “Apparently they know they can’t talk about jobs and taxes and the economy.”
Woodhouse, a retired educator with the Clark County School District, had her own criticism of Roberson for calling her a liberal loony.
Roberson said his criticisms of Woodhouse are based on her voting record in her four years in the Senate.
Democrats, who have a 12-9 majority over Republicans in the upper house, are trying to hang on to Woodhouse’s seat to maintain and potentially expand their majority. Republicans are seeking more seats in an effort to exert greater control over discussions on the budget, taxes and the redrawing of Nevada’s political boundaries.
In the debate on Jon Ralston’s Face To Face television program, Woodhouse said she is a hardworking person. She called Roberson’s comments hurtful.
Roberson countered that voting to give the Millennium Scholarship to illegal immigrants as Woodhouse did is a loony idea.
He also criticized Woodhouse’s former employer, the Clark County School District, for having more than 350 bureaucrats making in excess of $100,000 a year.
Roberson said the attacks on him from the Democratic Party are clearly untrue and he asked Woodhouse to denounce them.
The ads, based on a questionnaire filled out by Roberson for the conservative pro-life group Nevada Concerned Citizens, say he wants to keep women from getting birth control and investigate women who have miscarriages. Roberson said he only answered “yes” to a question about whether he is pro-life.
Woodhouse would not go so far as to denounce the ads, saying, “I do dislike negative campaigning incredibly.”
She did say they “are not good political pieces.”
The candidates were also asked about how they would deal with the next two-year state budget, which faces a funding shortfall of anywhere from $1.5 billion to $3 billion.
Woodhouse said she is pursuing a review of the state budget as part of a legislative panel looking to eliminate nonessential services and consolidate programs. But once all efficiencies are identified and implemented, a tax increase may be needed to balance the budget, she said.
Roberson said he would not raise taxes to balance the budget. The budget shortfall is more in the $1.5 billion range, he said. The average government employee makes 30 percent more than a private sector employee and state employee pay will have to be reduced, he said.
Nevada’s spending levels are unsustainable, Roberson said. Woodhouse’s record does not show one case where she voted against a tax increase, he said.