Morning in Nevada? Perhaps.
At a cocktail party the other night, the subject of incoming First Lady Kathleen Sandoval’s inaugural gown came up. While I don’t intend to give away any of the juicy details, suffice it to say a big portion of the conversation centered around the contrast with Mrs. Gibbons.
“Mrs. Sandoval is working with XX local designer for her specially designed gown while Dawn [Gibbons] spent $10,000 to buy off the rack.”
Hmmmm. Am I sensing a metaphor for the two administrations? Possibly. Before hanging your hat on that, consider a few things: In 2006 the hullabaloo surrounding candidate for governor Jim Gibbons (then a member of Congress) was borderline absurd. To be fair, I worked for his opponent in the primary, and we knew every stupid boorish thing he had ever done and was capable of, yet nobody would listen. Why? Because he was the new golden child. The second coming of Governor Laxalt. Nevada didn’t know much about him and didn’t care to. He had a beautiful logo, a wisp of the executive arrogance needed to make him look like a real governor, and a campaign team that could actually keep his big fat trap shut.
Boy howdy, how the mighty have fallen. One of the most disciplined campaigns in Nevada history bore a decidedly different governor. His administration was plagued with missteps, scandal, and ultimately the history books will know him as the only sitting Nevada governor to lose his own primary.
Are you listening, Mr. Sandoval? You didn’t say much during your campaign. Your “Morning in America” type speech was artfully crafted, masterfully delivered, and much of it was complete and utter hogwash. Nevada is in trouble, and it’s going to take some tough choices, some major sacrifices, and a steady, engaged and strong leader to guide us through these very challenging times. The state is flat broke, there really aren’t any untapped sources of revenue, and your citizens are regularly losing their jobs, their homes and their dreams.
Your No. 1 goal must be to calmly steward Nevada through some very treacherous waters with a steady hand, an open mind and consistent communication. This can only be accomplished if you take control. You’ve got the keys to the mansion. I don’t care if you “inherited this mess.” It’s your problem now. Own it. Make the tough choices and stand behind them. Pointing fingers at your predecessor is undignified, and it will make you look like a cretin. Don’t do it.
Thankfully, you will be paired with a Nevada Legislature that’s in better shape than Mr. Gibbons’ was, but still it’s no smooth sailing. The Democrats are licking their chops because they think Debbie Smith’s Ways and Means committee will be where much of your agenda goes to die. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Call them out on every single one of their obnoxious, obstructionist tactics. Name names. You are now the chief executive of the 36th state. That is a power not to be discounted. Use that power to hold the Legislature accountable. Use that power to soothe a very worried and unsure people. Use that power to lead.
Four years goes by quicker than you think, and when 2014 comes around, and Nevadans start to ask themselves, “Am I better off than I was four years ago?” what will the answer be? Sure there will be endless jokes about your perfect hair, your perfect teeth, and yes, your wife’s dress. That’s par for the course. Mr. Sandoval, spare us the rest. Keep your nose clean. Inspire us. Lead us. We are desperate for morning in Nevada again, and we can’t do it without you.