(Chuck Muth) – Newly elected Nevada GOP Chief Chris Comfort is gonna need all the help he can get turning the tables on Nevada Democrats next year, so it might not be a bad idea to visit ol’ St. Nick with a wish-list that I’ll be happy to provide for him here today.
Elections are about choices. Distinctions. Contrasts. Bold colors vs. pale pastels.
So if Republicans want to take advantage of the political winds of “change” and truly transform the political landscape next year rather than just tinker around the edges, they’re gonna have to prune some dead wood. It might not be fair. It might not be deserved. But reality is what reality is, not what we’d like it to be.
The first limb that needs to be severed is John Ensign.
Not for doinking his best friend’s wife. Who cares?
The reality is that while John Ensign was among the top ten national elected Republicans in Congress, he all but ignored the Nevada Republican Party. While Harry Reid’s PAC was donating a quarter-million dollars to the Nevada Democrat Party for the 2008 campaign cycle, Ensign sucked up every dime he could find in Nevada and funneled it all to the National Republican Senatorial Committee that he headed while simultaneously doinking, and then trying to cover up, his affair with his best friend’s wife.
Ensign then went on to lose eight U.S. Senate seats last year, thus giving Harry Reid a filibuster-proof majority. In the meantime, the Nevada GOP, both broke and broken, was forced to shutter its headquarters and lay-off its staff.
Many Nevada Republicans remain nostalgic for the days when John Ensign was their Golden Boy who could do no wrong. Some are still in denial. Those days are over. For good.
The realty is that as long as John Ensign remains in the Senate he will not be merely a the absentee GOP landlord he’s been for the last ten years, he and his scandal and the investigations or his scandal and all the unanswered questions will be a constant distraction and a major league albatross around the necks of each and every Republican candidate on the ballot.
And as long as Harry Reid controls the Senate, Harry Reid will control the Ethics Committee. And as long as Harry Reid controls the Ethics Committee, he will control John Ensign. Let’s face it, Harry Reid has John Ensign right where Mrs. Hampton once had him: By the….well, you know.
Now add the fact that Ensign’s own GOP colleagues treat him like he has the swine flu.
The reality is John Ensign has virtually no clout left to use on behalf of Nevada. So it would be in the best interest of the state, as well as the Nevada GOP, for John Ensign to resign, effective January 1st.
Santa, would you please get John Ensign to think about somebody other than himself and Mrs. Hampton this Christmas and quit?
OK, that’s the biggie. And the easy one. The other two limbs needing pruning are harder.
Gov. Jim Gibbons has been pretty much a stalwart fiscal conservative who, for whatever reason, seems to have done the right things in mostly all the wrong ways. While there may still be a path to victory for him in the Republican primary next year, it is highly unlikely – and even less likely that he’d go on to defeat Harry Reid’s son in the November general election.
Santa, would you please give Gov. Jim a very high-paying job in the private sector so he’ll decide not to run for re-election?
And if it’s not asking too much, could you please settle this divorce matter with that enraged ferret in the phone booth so both of them can go on to live happily ever after?
The third limb is the toughest.
Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki never should have been indicted for overseeing that college savings program he helped create which doesn’t have so much as a plug nickel missing. But he was.
Whether or not this is a partisan political witch hunt or not (it is), Krolicki will be stained with the indictment throughout 2010 even if the Attorney General decides to drop the case tomorrow. And even if Krolicki is eventually cleared, he might still be the most vulnerable GOP public official in office today (other than Gov. Jim).
You see, the lieutenant governor’s office is in charge of economic development. Now take a look around the state. What do you see? New jobs being created? Or non-stop layoffs (except for government employees) and record unemployment?
Krolicki can rattle off all the great things he’s done in office until the cows come home, but voters are gonna look at double-digit unemployment and a two billion dollar budget hole thanks almost entirely to the lack of economic development and diversification and they’re gonna want somebody’s head for it. Krolicki’s head.
Here’s the thing: As long as Krolicki is cleared of this BS indictment, his political career need not be over. But it does need a rest either way.
So Santa, please find Brian Krolicki a private sector job where he’ll make gobs and gobs of money and be able to spend lots and lots of time with that great family of his over the next two to four years instead of running for re-election.
(UPDATE SINCE ORIGINAL PUBLICATION: The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that “Judge Valerie Adair has dismissed without prejudice felony charges against Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki and his former assistant Kathryn Besser this morning.”)
With that out of the way and the tree pruned, let’s take a look at what that leaves for a potential GOP field next year and fill in some blanks.
If Ensign resigns, his replacement is a no-brainer: Rep. Dean Heller. Heller will not only easily hold the seat, he already knows his way around the halls of Congress and actually now has more clout than Ensign. His voting record is also at least as good, if not better than Ensign’s as far as conservatives go. Remember, Ensign voted for the TARP bailout; Heller voted against it.
Heller’s district is the most conservative of Nevada’s three (not seven) congressional districts. So it only makes sense to replace Heller with a staunch conservative; one who actually came within a few hundred votes of defeating Heller in the GOP primary for that seat in 2006: Sharron Angle.
As for taking out Harry Reid, I still believe that Sue Lowden is the strongest possible candidate. Her contrasts with Harry are stark and readily identifiable by the electorate.
She’s a woman; he’s a man. She’s young and energetic; he’s old and lifeless. He looks like an undertaker; she’s a babe. She’s a business owner; he’s a career politician. He’s a liberal with some moderate tendencies; she’s a conservative with libertarian-leaning tendencies. He’s a tax hiker; she’s a tax cutter. She’s a job creator; he’s a job killer. He supported the stimulus and the bailouts; she opposed them. He supports nationalizing our health care system; her private company provides health insurance for its workers. He’s vanilla; she’s cinnamon buns with caramel fudge. He’s a cat person; her dog’s name is Snoopy.
I mean, come on folks.
As for the other congressional seat in Las Vegas, Joe Heck made the “right” decision to shift from the gubernatorial race and run to unseat uber-liberal Democrat Rep. Dina Titus. Titus is probably one of the five most vulnerable congressional Democrats in Congress today and Heck has the best chance of taking her out in what is now a Democrat voting district.
As for the gubernatorial race, Brian Sandoval is probably not the best candidate for limited-government conservatives, but he absolutely is the best candidate for the Republican Party.
For lieutenant governor, rumors popped up back in the fall that Anthony Marnell III might be interested in the seat. Here’s the thing about Mr. Marnell: He opened a brand new resort in Las Vegas in the middle of the recession and put hundreds of Nevadans to work while generating a pile of new tax revenue for the state. Talk about economic development.
A few years back, Brian Sandoval left the job of Nevada attorney general to take that appointment to the federal bench. At the time state Sen. Mark Amodei of Carson City, a lawyer by trade, expressed an interest in replacing Sandoval. Who better to now replace AG Catherine Cortez-Masto than that same Mark Amodei?
For Secretary of State: Danny Tarkanian. SoS Ross Miller defeated Tark in 2006 primarily thanks to the “Obama effect” – and Miller’s made a hash of things running the office ever since. Without Obama on the ballot, and the winds of political change blowing to the right, Danny could win this race this time around and do all the things he said he wanted to do three years ago.
The state Treasurer is, in essence, the state’s banker. So who better to run for that seat than a highly successful Wall Street banker? Hello, John Chachas!
Now, perhaps the most under-utilized position in all of Nevada state government is the office of Controller. In reality, that office could be and ought to be renamed the Office of Waste Management.
One thing we discovered over the past several months thanks to the work of Bruce James and the SAGE Commission is that there’s a lot of waste and inefficiency in Nevada’s government. SAGE has been so successful in identifying these opportunities during its short run that many are now calling to make SAGE a permanent fixture in the government.
In reality, what SAGE has done the Controller’s office should be doing.
The Controller writes the checks and knows where all the money is going. Not only is the Controller’s office in the best position to identify waste, fraud, abuse and inefficiencies in government spending, it *could* serve as a very high-profile public position if the Controller would simply pick up where the SAGE Commission is leaving off.
In the right fiscally-conservative number-cruncher’s hands, the Controller’s office need not be a dead-end political job, but a veritable springboard to much higher office for somebody. Somebody with experience in dealing with government budgets and spending. Somebody such as: former North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon.
So Santa, if you haven’t laid off too many elves and could still bring the Nevada GOP a “dream team” of candidates for next year’s campaign cycle, would you please talk to these folks and see if you can bring them the following 2010 ballot roster….
U.S. Senator: Dean Heller
U.S. Senator: Sue Lowden
Congress District 2: Sharron Angle
Congress District 3: Joe Heck
Governor: Brian Sandoval
Lt. Governor: Anthony Marnell III
Attorney General: Mark Amodei
Secretary of State: Danny Tarkanian
Treasurer: John Chachas
Controller: Mike Montandon
Please, Santa, please. I PROMISE to be good! Your friend, Chris.