Scared of a little democracy, Republicans?
Many musicians making records. Some sign with corporate record companies, others with independent labels. Plenty of places to hear all this music—FM radio, satellite, MTV and Pandora. Diversity is good.
Many journalists making news. CNN, Reno’s KTVN, Facebook and the Gazette-Journal. Huffington Post, Salon, Al Jazeera, BBC. Citizens can be more informed than ever. Many voices. Again, good.
Many individuals running for Nevada’s open U.S. House seat in a special election. Oh, dear. What if the Ignorant Public does not pick the Right Candidate? We could end up with some nut-case representing Nevada in Congress. Or maybe even a third-party candidate.
Pardon me if my heart pounds at the prospect. I say bring on democracy. It’s about time.
Baffled by the special election controversy? Me, too. In May, Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller set up guidelines for holding a special election to replace Dean Heller in the U.S. House, who was appointed to fill a U.S. Senate vacancy.
Now we’re having a special election to fill Heller’s seat in Congressional District 2, an office that represents almost the entire state of Nevada, minus most of Clark County.
Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in our district. But in the 2008 election, the vote was handily split (49-49 percent) between John McCain and Barack Obama. McCain edged ahead by only a few dozen votes.
Republicans apparently don’t thrive on uncertainty. They’ve controlled this seat in Congress since 1981, first with Barbara Vucanovich, then Jim Gibbons, then Dean Heller.
Now, it could be anybody’s game.
To aide speedy governance in a post-9/11 era, Nevada enacted laws that forgo a primary to winnow out candidates in a special election. Miller interpreted these laws, allowing any candidates who met required guidelines and deadlines to run for office, calling this a “ballot royale.” (In the futuristic 2000 Japanese cult film classic Battle Royale, 42 delinquent teens are sent to an island and instructed to kill each other for a bloody Survivor-like reality TV show.)
Republicans cried foul, accusing Miller of partisan connivery. What if a dozen Republicans run and the vote is divided? Might this allow the extremely organized Democrats to consolidate votes, directing them to one disgusting liberal? Might the Republicans lose control?
I shudder to think of it. Organized Democrats, indeed.
Do Nevada Republicans fear free-market competition? They seem to prefer to control our choices, with Republican insiders picking a muscular candidate (Republican Sharron Angle?) and Dems selecting a mighty contender (the anti-Angle!)
Third-party folks send in the regulars. We nod and smile.
Angle, salivating and already shopping for D.C. apartments on Craigslist, had a hissy fit. She pouted, verbally abused Miller and dropped out of the game.
The complainers challenged the case in court. District Judge James Russell agreed with Republicans that the parties needed candidacy control. Miller has appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court, and judges have warned that the special election might be delayed. Miller needs a list of candidates by July 6, which gives his office time to print ballots for the Sept. 13 election.
So partisan panic threatens to gum the wheels of our democracy. Delays cost taxpayers, who pay for lawsuits and elections.
If the Supreme Court sides with power-mongers, the people of Nevada will be stuck with the either-or choices made by tiny coteries of influential mucky-mucks.
As of last week, 12 Republicans had filed for the open seat, along with eight Democrats, an Indy American and a handful of independents.
I trust that capable, informed voters can sift through these candidates. And I’d love to see some feisty debate royale.