Keep Democrats below two-thirds

Redistricting will happen in 2011. Here’s the map from 2003.

As Nevadans gag over an ugly U.S. Senate campaign this fall, fortunes of the Silver State—particularly those in Reno-Sparks and rural parts of Nevada—hang in the balance because of other political races.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and GOP challenger Sharron Angle mud wrestle each other in a neo-Darwinian struggle for a survival-of-the-(un)fittest prize. However, the state’s real future resides with battles for governor and the legislature.

Regular readers know I favor former Federal Judge Brian Sandoval over Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid for governor, nor will they be surprised by support mainly of GOP legislative candidates. However, reasoning about those stances, and two exceptions, offer food for thought.

This isn’t merely a partisan pitch. Two Reno-area Democrats win endorsements below. Here are my reasons for mainly supporting the GOP, along with my regional endorsements.

About half of next year’s legislators will be new to their roles. Of the 63 legislative members in 2010, at least 28 will be replaced. Not since the 1960s has so much legislative change arrived. That was when the U.S. Supreme Court’s one person, one vote ruling made the state Senate go from county to district representation. Democrats, meanwhile, will retain control, but will it be by a two-thirds supermajority?

Whatever you think of the 1960s high court ruling, growth in Las Vegas and environs means Nevada is trending toward Democrats and power accrues to Clark County. We don’t need a Democrat from Las Vegas in the governor’s chair with a supermajority of legislative Democrats.

Reno and environs, as well as the state’s rural population, would end up sucking wind. Las Vegans and Democrats, whose values are steeped in urban glitz or transitory ideas that can brew trouble, would run roughshod over Nevada. The mind boggles, even before contemplating higher taxes and more government.

So, always mindful that power corrupts and absolute power corrodes absolutely, I endorse these area candidates:

• Republican Phillip Salerno, small businessman with Sparks City Council experience, over Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, a Democrat who is term-limited from her current seat and trying to win state Senate District 1, bounded by McCarran Boulevard to the north and east and covering much of Reno.

• GOP Assemblyman Don Gustavson over Democrat Allison Edwards, a non-profit consultant, for state Senate District 2, covering Sparks and part of Reno outside McCarran Boulevard and rural areas north and east.

• Republican Ben Kieckhefer, a state government public information officer, over M.K. Yochum of the Independent American Party in state Senate District 4, covering Reno to Carson City, from Reno’s airport and Virginia Lake south.

• Republican Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, a rancher, over Democrat Kevin Ranft, a correctional officer, for the Capital City state Senate district in and around Carson City.

• Incumbent Assemblyman David Bobzien, a Democrat, in Assembly District 24; Republican Pat Hickey in 25; Republican Randy Kirner in 26; Republican Gabe Jurado in 27; incumbent Democrat Debbie Smith in 30; Republican Randi Thompson in 31; Republican Jodi Stephens in 32; incumbent Republican Pete Goicoechea in 35 (eastern Washoe County, and others), and Republican Kelly Kite in 39 (Douglas County). The web link above maps most of these districts.

I’ve already endorsed Republican Pete Livermore in Carson City’s and southern Washoe County’s District 40, zeroing in there to help stop Democrats from retaining Assembly supermajority status.

Don’t let the Reid-Angle hoopla divert your focus from the state legislative races.