The field of Democratic dreams blooms

Apparently, Democrats got the memo that Nevada is the center of their political universe in 2012. Nobody even knows what our legislative districts are going to look like, but already Democratic candidates for congress are popping up all over the state like weeds. They include ex-rep Dina Titus, state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, state Sen. Reuben Kihuen, and a regular to this column, Speaker of the Assembly “Johnny O” Oceguera.

Other than Kihuen, who claims to have some groundswell of support based on a Facebook group and a congressional campaign website that Kihuen himself parked, this is precisely the band of merry thugs everyone expected. Kihuen will be good for lots of blather, and that’s about it. He’s the young sprite in the group, he isn’t ready, and the prospect of him attempting to take out Horsford, Titus or Johnny O in a primary would make him a political kamikaze. He didn’t get this far by being stupid. He’s out.

This leaves Titus, Horsford and Johnny O to be the standard bearers for the presumably two strong Democratic districts and one swing congressional district.

Politics is a beauty contest, and methinks Titus wants nothing more than to once again lock horns with that damn Yankee who tossed her out on her Georgia peach last November. The election was oh-so-close, the gloves have never been on, and let’s face it—it’s personal.

From the tone of his rhetoric, Johnny O is also planning on battling Rep. Heck, but the wildcard here is the uncertainty in the redistricting process. Nobody knows what these districts are going to look like, and regardless of what their press releases may say, all three of them are worried. They effectively can’t raise money, meet constituents, or craft any sort of district specific platform if they don’t even know if they will end up residing in the district in which they plan to run. Nevada state law says one only has to reside in the state in order to run for a congressional district, but the term “carpetbagger” is the kiss of death for a political campaign.

Horsford has kept relatively quiet so far, and this could work to his advantage. He too has no idea in which district he’s going to run and right now the headlines are pretty negative. Titus is once again getting painted as a perennial office shopper with an ax to grind, and it remains to be seen if southern Nevada is tired of her.

Johnny O has it a lot worse, however. He’s been accused of double dipping—receiving two taxpayer-financed salaries for two government jobs at the same time. As much as he’d like to huff and puff about furlough days and sick leave, the records provided to the conservative Nevada Policy Research Institute suggest that at his current rate of pay, the fire department would have paid him $48,325 for his wage, and he received potentially another $29,980 in compensation/reimbursement from his position as the speaker of the Assembly. This one could be a tough sell to the voters, considering the sick leave abuse scandal that has currently engulfed the Clark County Fire Department.


On a personal note, I would like to take this opportunity to wish a fond farewell to my colleague Deidre Pike. Prior to joining the RN&R family, I was an avid reader of hers and although we didn’t always agree, I have always admired her masterful command of the written word. When “Right to Your Head” came into being at the end of last year, I was a bit daunted to have to be the poor sap who got to appear opposite “View From the Fray.” Well, it’s been an honor. Pike made me bring my A-game, and I have become a better journalist because of her influence. Thank you, Deidre, and best of luck as your future takes you west to the islands.