A beautiful field for the GOP

Congressional District 2 has been solidly Republican since its creation in the early 1980s. The Democrats have largely written it off. Not this year, however. The House seat is vacant, Nevada is bluer than ever, and the focus during redistricting will be to preserve Joe Heck in Congressional District 3. When the dust settles, District 2 will most likely be a Democratic-winnable seat, and they know it. Thankfully, there are some pretty stellar names being floated around on the Republican side, and here are just a few of them.

The conventional favorite is Brian Krolicki. Numerous times throughout the years I have had the great pleasure of interacting with Lt. Gov. Krolicki. He is fantastically well educated, and he has done some great things as our lieutenant governor. His predecessor, Lorraine Hunt (my former boss), established Nevada’s tourism presence in China, and Krolicki has fortified that bond. He is a friend to business, a friend to tourism, and he is always willing to talk to his constituents. Few politicians possess his passion, his authenticity and his masterful knowledge of Nevada. We were absolutely right to reelect him last November, but herein lies the problem: Krolicki has done an exemplary job as lieutenant governor, and it would be bittersweet to see him give up that office.

The resumé is Mark Amodei. Former state senator Amodei is smart, articulate, and wickedly funny. He knows how to handle himself in the media, and he doesn’t shy away from the challenge. Amodei has shown himself to be an emerging leader in the Nevada Republican party, and the improvements are measurable. Too many chairmen in the past have ignored the bully pulpit, but Amodei has used it effectively. Running for the House would be a great fit, and if he were in the race it would be easy for him to highlight his considerable list of accomplishments. Amodei would definitely give the Democrats a run for their money. Amodei and Dean Heller are cut from the same cloth. Remember that.

The dark horse is James Settelmeyer. A well liked state senator from the Capitol district, James Settelmeyer has proven himself to be a force in the Legislature. A master of parliamentary procedure, Settelmeyer would systematically deconstruct his general election opponent in a debate on the current issues facing Nevada. There are some very strong Democrats who could run for this seat, and it is crucial that the Republicans field a candidate who has the experience, track record and knowledge of Nevada to be able to win the debate. Settelmeyer would fit this bill. He has the expertise, the likeability, the rural appeal, and considering his family moved to Gardnerville in 1880, he’s hardly a carpetbagger.

Make no mistake, Sen. Settelmeyer has made no moves whatsoever toward a congressional run. So far he has said he doesn’t want to, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t consider it. He has the experience, charisma and the backbone we need here in the north. Don’t count him in quite yet, but certainly don’t count him out.

Nevada is going to be the center of the political universe in 2012. Potentially three open congressional seats and an open senate seat in a state Obama won in 2008. It is absolutely crucial that the Republicans field candidates who are strong and dynamic if Republicans hope to win these races. The three gentlemen listed above are excellent, and with names like theirs in the race, Nevada voters will have real choice based on resumes, not just sensationalism. The talking heads will tell you this primary is Sharron Angle’s to lose, but the tables will turn if she is running against someone who is actually qualified for the job. Experience matters, and that’s exactly what voters would get with Amodei, Krolicki or Settelmeyer.