(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – The two major party candidates running in the 2ndCongressional District special election to replace Dean Heller stuck to their talking points in a tame hour-long debate here today.
But the verbal jousting in front of about 150 people at the California Building in Idlewild Park still managed to illustrate the contrasts between Republican Mark Amodei and Democrat Kate Marshall.
Marshall, the Nevada state Treasurer in the midst of her second term, said she would protect social security and Medicare while seeking to balance the federal budget. She also pointed to her successes as treasurer, making money on the state’s investments in every quarter she has been in office.
“There is only one candidate here who will protect your social security and Medicare, and that is me,” Marshall said.
Amodei, a former state Senator who served in several sessions of the Legislature, said he is a candidate who does not think the federal government is too small, that there aren’t enough regulations and that there isn’t enough taxing and spending. Amodei said his legislative experience will allow him to tackle the tough issues facing the country the day after the Sept. 13 special election.
“I hope you take a look at who has worked for 24 years in the private sector to earn their living,” he said. “When you’re worried about unemployment, you’re worried about foreclosures, you’re worried about the economy, I think it’s a good thing to have somebody who comes from the private sector.”
Marshall touted her advocacy of Senate Bill 75, passed in the 2011 legislative session, which will allow the treasurer’s office to invest school funds in start-up businesses to create jobs, and criticized Amodei for proposing what she said would have been the largest tax increase in Nevada history as a lawmaker in 2003. The tax bill that was ultimately approved included a payroll tax, which means businesses that hire new employees pay more tax, she said.
“It’s no wonder our unemployment rate is the highest in the nation,” she said.
Amodei said his tax proposal was designed to head off the possibility of an income tax in Nevada. It was also intended to prevent a tax on gross receipts. Amodei also noted he opposed a $781 million tax increase in 2009.
Also participating in the hour-long debate were American Party candidate Tim Fasano and independent Helmuth Lehmann, both of whom argued that they were better choices than the establishment party candidates.
Fasano said the two major party candidates are “out of the same cloth” and voters who want change should vote for him on Sept. 13.
“I will stand for the rule of law,” he said.
The special election was made necessary when Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed former Rep. Dean Heller to the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. John Ensign, who resigned. The district encompasses 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties and part of Clark County.
The district has a more than 30,000 Republican voter edge, but there are also more than 60,000 independent voters.