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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Republicans of Nevada: A Field Guide

I received an email from a liberal organization asking me to choose who was the most dangerous member of the Nevada GOP. I was not able to answer, because the bar is so high.

I've lived in the Silver State for over a year and a half and am still getting used to how the politics works here. The state went for Obama twice, and has a Democratic senator of great power (Harry Reid) and a Republican one of little power (Dean Heller). My congressional representative is a liberal Democrat (Dina Titus), but the other three are Republican. But this seeming levelness is misleading. That Nevada has any Democratic power at all is due to Las Vegas, which is mostly liberal and Hispanic. The rest of the state is Cliven Bundy country.

My initial answer to the question is Michelle Fiore, seen here in her family Christmas card, where all the family members are packing heat. Fiore is a state legislator who is running for Congress this year, and become something of a cause celebre, but for all the wrong reasons. Clearly she is a gun fetishist, she also supported the takeover of the Oregon wildlife preserve by the Bundy fils last year, and she is on the record for thinking cancer is a fungus, so oncology is not her field. She is, to put it mildly, a dangerous nitwit.

But her dangerousness has been challenged. Harry Reid is retiring, and running to replace him on the GOP side is Joe Heck, the congressman whom Fiore is seeking to replace. He is the frontrunner and establishment choice, but look! From the ashes of wacko candidates past is Crazy Sharron Angle. I've written about Angle before, long before I knew I'd have the chance to vote against her. Like a herpes breakout, she's reappeared to strike fear in the hearts of sane voters. I doubt her positions, such as armed insurrection, have changed much.

Heck is a kind of run-of-the-mill Republican, captive to big business and against the Affordable Care Act. He is especially tied to fossil fuel interests, voting against the regulation of greenhouse gases. But he appears to be sane. Also in this same boat is Senator Heller, who is pro-life, pro-oil, against same-sex marriage, etc. He's a back-bencher who has done nothing to be controversial.

He replaced, though, Jim Ensign, who went out in a fizzle of glory. Ensign, you may recall, had an affair with the wife of his good friend, and then spent a lot of money trying to cover it up, including giving the friend a job. Ensign resigned in grace, escaping prosecution, and went back to practicing veterinary medicine. I wouldn't trust him with my dog, though.

The current governor is Republican, Brian Sandoval. I will say this--if I have to live in a state with a Republican governor, I'll take Sandoval. He visited the school I work at a few weeks ago. He popped in on a few classes and my students and I were breathless with anticipation as he went into the classroom next to mine, I didn't get a chance to meet him. But for a Republican, he's not terrible. He's pro-choice and done some good things for schools. He's a major obstacle to solar power, though. Somehow his name got floated as a potential Obama pick for Supreme Court (clearly a ruse) and would be an attractive choice on a Republican ticket. I wouldn't bet against him running for president in 2020.

As decent as Sandoval is, though, he replaced one of the most hapless governors in Nevada history. Jim Gibbons. He was a one term and out guy, whose approval rating hit ten percent. Here, from Wikipedia, is a list of the reasons he was selected one of America's worst governors by the Committee for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington:

  • Violated campaign finance law by accepting illegal corporate donations 
  • Allegedly assaulted a waitress 
  • Overlooked ethical lapses of his appointee 
  • Misused state resources in pursuit of an extra-marital affair 
  • Endangered his state’s economy by threatening to reject federal stimulus funds 
  • Has been investigated for his conduct as a member of Congress
I don't know if Nevada leads the nation in corrupt and/or crackpot politicians. I mean, while Texas and Florida are part of the United States there will always be competition. It used to be that Nevada politicians had to be corrupt, because you couldn't get elected without being in bed with the gaming industry, which was run by the mob, but that has changed. Now you just have to be a gun nut, or at least an adulterer.

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