The election lineup is ready

Seventeen Nevadans have declared themselves ready to become our next governor, a politically diverse group of eight Republicans, six Democrats, one Libertarian, one Independent American, and one Bundy with no political party at all.

The primary on June 12 will narrow the contenders from the major parties, leaving just five months of intensifying political ads before we receive the mercy of election day on Nov. 6. But you shouldn’t need political advertising this year to make up your mind since the leading candidates are currently serving in elected office and have distinct records that reveal their priorities.

Two state government officeholders lead the pack on the Republican side, each vying to be more extreme, both unacceptable to voters weary of politicians who believe their personal moral code should be the law of the land, a position in conflict with Nevada’s libertarian underpinnings.

Adam Laxalt, who was swept into office during the 2014 mid-term elections when Democratic base voters stayed home on election day, has not performed well as attorney general, getting caught up in a “pay to play” scandal and constantly fighting with Nevada’s moderate Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, who pointedly has avoided endorsing him. Most recently, Laxalt filed an amicus brief to side with Texas in regard to an anti-abortion law which interferes with a woman’s right to control her reproductive decisions, despite Nevada voters’ clear decision in 1990 to protect these rights. A federal judge found the Texas law to be unconstitutional, but Laxalt signed Nevada up to support the Texas attorney general’s appeal. One can surmise that as Nevada’s governor, Laxalt would become even bolder in pushing his morality on the rest of us. No, thanks.

Dan Schwartz is another Republican who rode the Republican wave and became state treasurer during the Democrats’ mid-term debacle of 2014. Schwartz has two claims to political fame, neither of them endearing him to progressives. He insulted and angered legislators by presenting a three-page “alternative budget” in 2015 that featured a 25 percent tax on food and drink receipts instead of the small corporate tax championed by Sandoval. But his determination to undermine public education by diverting funding to private schools through so-called educational savings accounts is enough to disqualify him from being governor. Nevada’s children deserve better.

On the Democratic side, two Clark County commissioners are presenting themselves as progressives, but only one has the credentials to back it up. Chris Giunchigliani served 16 years in the Nevada Assembly before joining the Clark County Commission, specializing in education policy, green energy, voting rights and women’s health care. She’s a tough negotiator focused on making government work for everyone, not just the wealthy.

Her primary opponent, Steve Sisolak, is a former regent, best known in Northern Nevada for his insistence on subsidizing the new Raiders stadium in Las Vegas with taxpayer funds. Recently he tweeted proudly that over $3 million was raised in room tax in February for the Raiders, as if we should all be proud to hand multimillionaires tax dollars that could have been earmarked for mental health care or education. The Raiders deal has been derided across the country as the biggest stadium boondoggle in our nation’s history, but Sisolak thinks it’s our salvation.

Primary voters will have other significant choices to make on June 12, including a contest in Assembly District 24 among four Democrats that will determine the winner, thanks to an ill-advised change in the law in 2015 which allows primary voters of one party to pick a representative without the benefit of a general election if no one from an opposing party files.

This disenfranchisement of voters is shameful, as it denies non-partisan voters, Republicans and minor parties the opportunity to vote for Assembly in District 24. It’s downright un-American.