(Jim Clark) – There’s a food fight brewing in the Nevada GOP gubernatorial contest.
After all the anguish about public employee layoffs, furloughs, cuts in essential services, reducing the disposable diaper allowance for seniors in state facilities and other unpleasant prospects GOP Candidate Brian Sandoval suggested that the legislature should consider a sale-leaseback of state office buildings to raise immediate cash for the budget shortfall.
Governor Gibbons, who had just called for taxing internet sales and increased mining taxes, criticized Sandoval’s proposal calling it “impulsive.”
“Sandoval’s lack of leadership experience is clearly showing” he sneered.
Really? What could prompt the Governor to violate Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (“thou shalt not speak ill of any other Republican”)? Was it really Sandoval’s suggestion or was something else bothering the governor?
Well, let’s see, according to state records between September 15 and December 31, 2009 Sandoval raised nearly $950,000, and still has $800,000 in his war chest. During the entire year 2009 Gibbons raised $165,000 and has only $35,000 left in his campaign fund.
Most of Nevada’s elite businesses and individuals are listed on Sandoval’s contribution report, including Gibbons’ former chief of staff, the family of Senator Ensign and former Governor Kenny Guinn’s trust. Think there might be some hard feelings?
And how about the February 8 statewide poll by Rasmussen Reports showing Sandoval beating Democrat Gubernatorial Candidate Rory Reid 45% to 33% while Gibbons loses to Reid 35% to 44%. The poll showed male voters favoring Sandoval by two-to-one and a break even with female voters while Reid leads Gibbons by double digits among female voters.
Among non-partisan voters Gibbons and Reid are tied but Reid trails Sandoval 46% to 26%. Only 8% of Nevada voters have a very favorable opinion of Gibbons while 39% view him very unfavorably. 15% of voters viewed Sandoval very favorably and 8% viewed him very unfavorably.
Could these poll results have inspired Gibbons’ temper tantrum?
Was Sandoval’s proposal really that bad? If you owned a distressed business and were faced with laying off your most productive employees it seems to me you ought to at least consider liquidating some fixed assets rather than imploding.
Or if you head up a family wouldn’t you access your home equity line of credit rather than letting your kids starve and cutting off your folks’ prescriptions.
To his credit Sandoval did not trade insults with the governor. He simply replied: “I believe the vast majority of Nevadans will think my idea is better than $100 million in new taxes, laying off thousands of teachers and cutting vital programs for foster children, mental health patients and senior citizens.”
Sen. Bill Raggio (R – Reno), the grand old man of the legislature, endorsed Sandoval’s call for long-term leasing of state buildings. He said that a sale-leaseback could bring in an immediate infusion for state coffers without disposing of assets.
Conversely Raggio termed Gibbons’ proposals “ridiculous”, “unacceptable” and “too ugly” to get support in the legislature. Gibbons responded by calling Sandoval “Raggio’s law partner” because Sandoval affiliated with Raggio’s firm, Jones Vargas, when he stepped down from the federal bench last September.
Reagan’s eleventh commandment may apply here but after looking at Gibbons’ poll numbers and his bank account it seems to me that the old adage about glass houses and throwing stones might be even more relevant.
(Jim Clark is President of Republican Advocates, a vice chair of the Washoe County GOP and a member of the Nevada GOP Central Committee. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)