Primary season is in full swing, building up to June 14, the day Republicans and Democrats pick candidates to represent them in the general election this November. It’s a three-month race to the finish line trying to attract the attention of voters more interested in enjoying the novelty of a green spring than they are in deciphering primary politics. (Well, it was green, until this week.)
While there are a few Democrats with primary opponents, the real battle this season is on the Republican side, where our national disgrace, Donald Trump, seems ever more likely to be the party’s standard bearer. Intra-party primary feuding always has the potential to get nasty, but the sniping this year has reached new levels of vitriol.
In Las Vegas, there are several Republican primaries ready to explode into Trump-like truth-defying verbosity, including Congressional District 3 featuring multiple candidates on the Republican side. Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, the chameleon who was anti-every-tax one session and leading the Governor’s Commerce Tax brigade the next, is the establishment candidate. He is challenged by perennial candidates Danny Tarkanian and Annette Teijeiro, air force veteran Kerry Bowers, the former president of a right-wing think tank, Andy Matthews, and the Bundy-loving, anti-government extremist Michele Fiore. Although Roberson is the anointed candidate, in a six-way primary full of bombastic rhetoric, anything could happen.
Even more entertaining is the battle between two first-term Assemblymembers, Erven Nelson and Victoria Seaman, over an open Senate seat. Seaman is using social media to brutally attack her colleague for his votes to raise payroll taxes and create the new Commerce Tax. She criticizes him daily on Twitter, claiming he’s distributing an “insanely false” campaign flyer.
This race has dueling parody Twitter accounts to exploit perceived primary weaknesses. Volatile Vicky (@VickyVolatile) has a tag line, “brb, have to go have another meltdown,” while Swerving Erven’s (@SwervinErven) tag line is “They call me Swerving Ervin (sic) cause I try to be all things to all people! My voters can’t handle the truth.”
Closer to home, a slightly more decorous primary fight is brewing in Senate District 15 between establishment candidate Heidi Gansert and anti-tax businessman Eugene Hoover. Gansert, who previously served as Gov. Sandoval’s chief of staff, has refused to take a position on the 2015 tax hike, saying she wasn’t there and doesn’t have all the information. If Hoover copies Seaman’s public shaming tactics, this race could get ugly very quickly.
The state Democrats won’t leave the tax controversy alone, sponsoring an #AskHeidi social media campaign leading to Gansert’s campaign website with a prepared question asking why she won’t “give voters an honest answer” about whether she would have voted for the governor’s 2015 tax package. The Democrats’ prompt states, “This is not a complicated question. Either you would have voted to improve your schools, or you would have voted against improving your schools. Washoe County voters deserve to know—which is it?”
The Democrats hope Hoover topples Gansert in the primary, creating an opening for Democrat Devon Reese to win the seat left open after Greg Brower abandoned it for a government job in Washington, D.C.
Assistant Majority Leader Ben Kieckhefer foolishly reacted to the Democrats with a childish news release of his own, effectively drawing more attention to the #AskHeidi campaign. He blamed Democrats for not producing more money for schools when they held the majority in the Legislature, conveniently forgetting to mention it was the Republicans who prevented tax increases to support education by blocking a two-thirds supermajority vote countless times. As for Gansert’s position? Crickets.
Candidate Gansert maintains her silence on the tax issue, hoping to run out the primary clock.
But something tells me the #AskHeidi campaign has only just begun.