(Jim Clark) – Since Nevada’s admission to the union, there has never been a special election to fill a vacant congressional seat. So maybe a little confusion should have been expected when Congressman Dean Heller was appointed to the U.S. Senate. Ross Miller, the Democratic Secretary of State, issued an opinion that anyone who files can run in the September 13 special election, hoping that numerous GOP candidates would split the conservative vote and a Democrat could prevail in a “safe” Republican District.
The district court overruled Miller, decreeing that the Nevada State Republican and Democratic Central Committees should choose one candidate each as representatives of the two major parties. Miller appealed that ruling, so on or before July 8, the Nevada Supreme Court will have the final say. Meanwhile, aspirants for Heller’s congressional seat are not letting any grass grow under their feet.
What I can’t figure out is why Nevada Republicans do things the hard way. Democrats are dealing with this confusion perfectly sensibly by having Harry Reid serially dispatch wannabe candidates who don’t meet his criteria. Kingmaker Reid has determined that the Democratic candidate in Congressional District 2 will be Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall.
Last week, he squired her around Washington, DC, pimping huge campaign contributions, taking her to cocktail parties, and getting the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to commit funds to her, irrespective of what Nevada voters and the other eight Democratic candidates want.
As reported in the Las Vegas Sun: “Reid and the DCCC are teaming up to give Marshall a formal (Washington) D.C. introduction (which) indicates that not only have the powers that be picked their candidate, but they’re prepared to plow the field to clear her the best possible path to victory.
That includes letting Marshall stand in the clearing they create and take positions that at times are critical of her party. For instance, on the campaign trail, Marshall has been openly critical of the Democrats’ health care law, calling it: ‘flawed.’” I wonder how many Nevadans will be fooled by that whopper.
And I wonder how “independent” she would be if Nancy Pelosi threatened to strip her of committee assignments if she doesn’t toe the party line. I also wonder how the other Democrats who have filed for CD2 feel about getting trashed by King Harry and his merry men at the DCCC.
By contrast, Republicans don’t have any heavy-handed kingmakers who control large wads of money, so all 15 or so GOP candidates have to duke it out among themselves. And unlike Ms. Marshall, who is awash in out-of-state cash, these candidates are finding it very difficult to raise campaign funds because of the confusion and uncertainty over how this election will shape up.
Things got a little clearer last weekend when the Nevada GOP Central Committee met in Sparks to select a congressional candidate. Only Mark Amodei, Greg Brower and Kirk Lippold were nominated, so the other eleven are out unless the Supreme Court reinstates Ross Miller’s opinion.
Amodei won in a landslide and Brower graciously informed the partisan crowd that he would campaign for the winner. Lippold, who is not even a member of the GOP Central Committee, told everyone he didn’t care who got the party endorsement, he was going to continue to run anyhow.
Meanwhile the Democrats meet this coming weekend in Reno to crown Harry Reid’s selection of Kate Marshall and trash the other candidates. So Lippold is now a polecat at the GOP’s picnic, threatening to split the GOP vote and give the Democrats a house seat in a district with a 30,000 vote Republican edge.
Stay tuned for late-breaking developments from the wise folks in black robes.
(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)