Sheila Leslie: committed Nevadan
Last week, Democratic state Sen. Sheila Leslie unexpectedly delivered a resignation letter to Gov. Brian Sandoval.
The goal of Leslie’s resignation is to assist Democrats in holding onto the majority in the state Senate—she plans to move into a new home in a new district and subsequently run against Republican Greg Brower for the seat in the competitive new district. Where Leslie previously represented a staunchly Democratic district that is generally regarded as Northern Nevada’s safest Democratic seat, she will now be moving into a district where voter registration is split relatively evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
It is an entertaining political move that is almost too exciting to be true. A year ago before the current legislative districts were created, Leslie purchased a house in Senate District 15 against the day when her daughter became self-sufficient and left home, which she has now done. As a result of subsequent redistricting, the house happened to land in Senate District 15. Currently, the district is being served by Brower, who was appointed last year after Sen. Bill Raggio resigned.
Democrats currently have an 11-10 advantage in the Senate, which may be threatened as Sens. Shirley Breeden and Allison Copening will not be running for reelection next term, leaving their seats up for grabs and very tempting to Republican candidates.
Leslie has served in the Nevada Assembly and Senate since 1998. Her move is risky. But there is no better state to take a gamble in, and I believe Leslie has the upper hand in this situation. Sometimes, you just have to go for it. In the same way it is dissatisfying to argue with someone who agrees with you, politics are no fun if you just stay in your “safe” district year after year. Leslie’s willingness to take a chance on this election and step into an unfamiliar arena full of new voters who have been newly redistricted is pretty inspiring.
It is refreshing to see politicians take risks like this with the goal in mind of bettering the state. Leslie has long been an active and effective representative of her constituents, and it is clear that she is motivated and enthused to win the election in her new, more competitive district. Though many Democrats—and Republicans, naturally—are skeptical about this announcement, I can’t help but be caught up in some sort of optimism about it all.
Leslie’s confidence combined with the incredulous and bemused reactions from Brower and other Republicans instills some confidence in me and hopefully empowers other Democrats as well.
Leslie’s move not only provides an opportunity for a capable candidate such as Assemblyman David Bobzien or Assemblywoman Debbie Smith—both of whom have expressed some interest in running for Leslie’s now-vacant Senate seat—it provides an opportunity for Democrats to reach even further and connect with even more Nevadans.
Of course, there is always the terrible prospect of loss. We cannot forget that a portion of this new district was responsible for electing Sharron Angle as its representative (over Brower). And, losing Leslie as a representative would be unfortunate—she is an influential Nevada legislator who believes in the importance of education and the necessity of jobs in renewable energy, in addition to many other issues that have affected Nevadans.
But, it is good to see a capable candidate such as Leslie vacate a “safe” seat in favor of some good, old-fashioned competition, which is something of a rarity in many Nevada elections. Each move a candidate makes leading up to an election must be carefully planned and mindful of the overall goal. I believe that Leslie has a valuable goal in mind, and an achievable one at that.