The Election at the Edge of the Universe

Nevada may become the center of the known electoral universe this year, or my prognosticating tools are even more atrophied than they appear at first glance.

At first glance, they look anemic. Some time back, I said state Sen. Mark Amodei of Carson City had a shot at winning the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate and unseating four-term Nevada Sen. Harry Reid. Amodei raised little money, couldn’t dent the polls sufficiently and withdrew without filing.

Now it appears we have a GOP primary race mainly featuring four among the 13 who filed as Republicans for the nod to tilt against the incumbent Democrat and Senate majority leader. Atop GOP polls are Sue Lowden and Danny Tarkanian; heading the next tier are Sharron Angle and John Chachas.

Once again, I’ll push a long shot by backing Chachas despite apparent handicaps.

Chachas is too articulate, like Amodei; it’s not much help in an off-year primary in which few but the already and intensely committed pay attention. Despite being a Nevada native, Chachas spent adult years elsewhere as an investment banker type.

Lowden, formerly a beauty queen and TV newscaster, is in the casino business with her husband and previously was a state senator. Angle is a former state assemblywoman. Tarkanian, once a basketball star, is a real estate businessman.

Lowden, Angle and Tarkanian were born elsewhere but spent much of their adult lives in Nevada.

Reid, born a Nevadan but gone native in D.C., makes me, a transplanted conservative and Republican, yearn for the days of Tom Daschle, the South Dakotan who led Senate Democrats before losing and giving us a reading on Reid’s liberal leadership style.

Ah, yes, South Dakota.

I have often climbed the Native American spiritual center of the universe named Harney Peak, also known as Okawita Paha or Opahata by indigenous tribes. Those names, which mean gathering place, designate the peak and surrounding Black Hills.

Black Elk, a Sioux medicine man, had a vision on the peak and saw that it placed him at the center of everything.

It is in this sense that I label Nevada the center of the electoral universe, the center of everything in 2010. Reid’s heavy lift re-election effort—he lags in early match-up polls—will get much national media attention.

Like Black Elk, however, I view being at the center of everything more broadly that being at the center of the physical universe. A medicine man also sees it as spiritual; I see it as intellectural, psychological, political, societal, even electoral.

Nevada is central because it can help spur a resurgence of sanity in party politics. Voters can boot Reid in November and Gov. Jim Gibbons in June, jettisoning a liberal agenda pusher in Reid and boosting a future national figure for the GOP.

Gibbons, a Republican millstone, seeks another term but his main GOP challenger is Brian Sandoval, a Hispanic who formerly served as a federal judge. Sandoval’s credentials are real; he would burst on the national scene by beating Gibbons and then Democrat Rory Reid, son of Harry and a Clark County politico in his own right.

If voters throw in a Nevada GOP legislative resurgence just in time for redistricting after the 2010 census, a return to checks-and-balances will be at hand in my universe.

Remember, though, this center of the universe stuff is relative.

Physicists tell us that after the Big Bang, universe(s) keep expanding, and so all that is speeds away from us. It appears we’re at the center, but in reality we’re just growing more distant from everything else. Far out. Much like our politics of late.

Anyway, at least I won’t have to go climb Harney Peak another time to center myself.