The candidates have filed, and we’re off to the Nevada Races. At the top of the ticket we have our Congressional candidacies, complete with the ever-present visage of Janine Hansen (IAP) of the Hansen Family Party running in the 2nd Congressional District race. Her last foray into the fray was a 2012 race against incumbent Republican state senator Pete Goicoechea for his District 19 seat; she got 19.5% of the vote in the general election. Hansen espouses an anti-tax, anti-immigrant, and for that matter, anti-government philosophy.
Incumbent Representative Mark Amodei (R-NV2) is running unopposed in the GOP Primary (June 10), which should come as no surprise to anyone. That the former president of the Nevada Mining Association (2007-2008) and career politician would be the ‘man in waiting’ for future elections isn’t surprising either.
There will be a hotter primary for the Democratic candidates. Dr. Vance Alm, MD (Reno) filed on March 5th saying on his web site: “I can no longer sit by and watch America falter and fall from its position as World Leader. I want my children and grandchildren to have opportunities similar to those I enjoyed. Complacency, apathy and cynicism; saying things such as, “It’s not that bad”, “I don’t care” and “It just doesn’t matter” need to be replaced with a desire and goal to once again make America the indisputable greatest nation on earth.”
Brian Dempsey (Gardnerville) offers more specificity in his issues section of his campaign site. His position on economic development is generalized, but does emphasize small business: “Nevadans have been facing high unemployment rates for too long. We need to find solutions to bring companies to our communities that will create jobs. Our country was founded with an entrepreneurial spirit. We need to focus on helping start-ups and small businesses grow. With their growth, Nevada can recover economically and begin to grow again.”
Ed Lee (Reno) has also filed but his web site is apparently a work in progress. “Watch this space.”
Kristen Spees (Incline Village), an estate planning attorney, filed for the primary, her message in part: “My platform is based on government transparency and simplified politics. I want residents to be informed about what is going on in the government and I want everyone to be able to make well-founded decisions when voting. Transparency provides information for citizens about what the government is doing and it promotes accountability. I want to simplify politics by teaching and informing residents about the pros and cons of important issues…”
Representative Amodei’s problem is not “how to get elected,” he’s been able to do that successfully since his race against Ernie Adler, his issue may be how to keep from getting sucked into the far right whirlpool of LoonyBin-ness Tea Party, Gold Standard, Anti-Government rhetoric with which the 2nd District is awash. His problems will obviously surface in the general election IF his ultimate opponent (and not the IAP) manages to identify him with far right stances on the Affordable Care Act, and banking deregulation.
The Democratic Party candidate’s problem will be equally obvious. There aren’t that many Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District. There are 110,795 ‘active’ Democratic registered voters in the district, 17,202 IAP voters, 2,933 Libertarians, and 2,840 categorized as “other.” There are 144,255 registered ‘active’ Republicans. 56,714 are registered as ‘non-partisan.’ [NVsos pdf] Expecting all those independent voters to vote on the Democratic side is utterly unreasonable.
Department of Unsolicited Advice
Representative Amodei’s been successful so far at being all things to all people, his messages are highly generalized and verge on consisting entirely of talking points without drilling down beyond the surface ideological level.
The Democratic candidate who emerges from the primary with one hopes a bit more name recognition than the current “Who?” level, might do well to:
(1) Run on, rather than away from, “Obamacare.” Thus far Representative Amodei has been a good little GOP soldier, voting for every House Republican attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. [BallotP] Amodei can continue to run as a ‘repealer’ IF no one calls him on the specifics. For example: Does he really want to allow insurance corporations to be able to raise premiums more than 10% without scrutiny? Does he really want insurance corporations to be able to deny health insurance based on pre-existing conditions (like being a woman)? Does he really want to tell parents that their 21 year old son or daughter can no longer remain on the family policy? Does he really want to make their grandparents pay out of pocket for preventative screenings? Does he really want to allow insurance corporations to refuse to cover immunizations for children? Does he really want to allow insurance corporations to able to rescind policies when a person become ill or has an injury?
IF Amodei’s answers are ‘yes’ to these specifics then he’s on the defensive. If his response is “we, the GOP, have another plan.” Then he can be reminded, none too gently, that the repeal and replace slogan has already been used — and suspiciously enough the ‘replace’ part only shows up during election seasons, thence to fade and die in the actual legislative part of the process. If he does try to sell the “GOP Plan” he can be reminded early and often that the GOP plan is more expensive, and covers fewer American families than the current system.
(2) Run on a platform of economic development for the 21st century not the 19th. Amodei’s on record saying: “I pledge to advocate for changes in federal tax and spending policies that will reduce the burden on struggling American Families and the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy.” This core statement is relatively little more than the old “Tax and Spend Democrat” refrain.
If Nevada families are struggling — and they are — then is that tax burden all that much of a burden to the average Nevadan earning about $50,000 per year? The chink in the Amodei/GOP armor is that the tax burden of late has been shifted toward the middle class, those self-same small business owners and their employees, he purports to defend. Republicans in general, and Amodei specifically, need to answer why they support subsidies for millionaires and billionaires and multi-national corporations when the burden has been shifting to the middle class.
It would be refreshing to hear a Democratic candidate for Congress dump the Austerity/Trickle Down Economics Hoax, and start talking about creating demand for American products and services. Here’s where the advocacy of increasing the minimum wage comes into play. If we increase the minimum wage closer to a living wage this (a) helps American families and (b) creates demand for local businesses who offer goods and services in the state.
(3) Run toward reasonable gun safety regulation, and respond to the NRA attacks with calm arguments — no one, except people who were never going to vote for you anyway — believes that felons, fugitives, juveniles, and the severely mentally ill should have easy access to firearms, and these categories of individuals are prevented from gun ownership under current Nevada statutes. Advocate background checks to insure that these individuals aren’t obtaining guns, and thereby improve the enforcement of what is already in the statute books.
(4) Refute the Welfare Queen Mythology. There are some quick references which will inform all but the most obtuse that if we are really looking for “waste, fraud, and abuse” in federal spending — it isn’t to be found in the Food Stamp (SNAP) or ‘welfare’ programs. Speak to revising federal procurement policies which could minimize those single source no bid contracts. Does, for example, Representative Amodei support the latest incarnation of the “Ryan budget?” If ‘yes,’ then does that mean he has espoused the philosophy behind that presentation — before Rep. Ryan started back-pedaling for all he was worth? [TP] Interesting, isn’t it, how when a Republican is caught out being a boor, he or she responds, “I was inarticulate….?”
(5) Get real about the national debt. The trend is actually declining. Yes, the number looks astronomical, however — if I am $8,000,000 in debt that’s a big deal, but if one of the Koch Brothers were $8,000,000 in debt that’s pocket change. The National Debt is hauled out during campaigns as a banner to wave before people to whom candidates feel no necessity to explain that (a) we owe most of the debt to ourselves, (b) we are still considered the safest place to invest on the planet and people want to invest in our Treasury bills and notes, and (c) we have the largest economy on Planet Earth and we can handle a great deal more debt than Greece, Portugal or any other location the doom and gloom contingent can hold up as an exemplar.
And, remember, even a charismatic, sharp, and well organized Democratic candidate will be running an uphill battle in the 2nd Congressional District. Go ahead, ‘run as a Democrat,’ at worst it might secure some votes otherwise lost in the shuffle, and at best it will force the Amodei campaign to offer more than sloganeering to the constituents.