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Harry Reid, Michele Fiore and Cliven Bundy: Politics In Nevada Heats Up


Politically speaking, Nevada is in for some high times over the next several months.

Next week, the deadline to file for elected office ends. Some surprising folks have decided to run.

"It's obvious political suicide; she has no chance to win that race." That's the analysis of Jon Ralston, Reno Gazette-Journal columnist and KNPR contributor, about Assemblywoman Michele Fiore's candidacy for Congressional District 3.

"He's a welfare cowboy," is the summation of Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and KNPR contributor. Know who he's talking about?

And how much power does Harry Reid still have in the U.S. Senate – will a potential Supreme Court nomination test that power?


On Michele Fiore running for Congressional District 3:

Ralston: I’m actually surprised that she filed. I didn’t think she was going to because it’s obvious political suicide. She has no chance to win that race either the primary or the general election, which tells me that she’s just doing it for attention for whatever her next venture in life is perhaps a reality show.

Sebelius: Maybe it is a suicide mission, but if so, it’s a suicide mission that is aimed at Michael Roberson, who she talked about exclusively in her announcement. I realize first she’s running in a Republican primary but she never mentioned the Democrats. She never mentioned running against the Democrats. She never mentioned the Democrats being bad. All she mentioned was Michael Roberson and she talked about how we need people in Washington who are willing to take on members of their own political party.

On the fact that there are more Democrats filed to run for the Legislature than Republicans:

Ralston: It doesn’t say anything. People make a big deal about filing. The Democrats have always done a good job trying to get publicity out of filing. Nothing that happens during this central filing period is going to change the central dynamic of the legislative races, which is the Democrats would be guilty of political malpractice if they do not retake the Assembly based on the accidents of history who were elected in 2014 because of the red wave. And the Senate is almost a pure tossup.

On judicial elections:

Sebelius: Most people… ask lawyers who practice in the courts or practice before these judges for advice. Some also turn to the RJ’s judicial survey although there are people who say that survey is flawed and has certain biases in it. But there really isn’t a lot places to go for information and the information you have is only the most basic.

On school board elections:

Ralston: It’s not just something that generally engages voters. They generally don’t raise much money. I think the incumbents running have a problem in the sense that there is so much anti-schools fervor out there mostly because there has been so much attention given to the school choice issue and what a political and legal dog fight that is. But no one really pays much to the school board races which explains how we’ve gotten some of the people on the school board.

On Cliven Bundy and federal land use:

Sebelius: We have got to separate out Cliven Bundy from the public lands issue. Cliven Bundy is a welfare cowboy who has abused the privilege of grazing cattle on public land for 20 years and is now facing justice for his egregious acts that, thank God, did not result in bloodshed during that Bunkerville standoff of 2014. I don’t think the criminal acts of Cliven Bundy and his supporters should be discussed in the same breath as the legitimate public policy issues about public lands management.

On Catherine Cortez Mastos run for Senate:

Ralston: It’s way too early and no one is really paying attention to this race. You couldn’t get 10 percent of the people in this state to tell you who is running for the U.S. Senate. No one is paying attention to that now. The only thing people are paying attention to now is the presidential race. This is all going to start over the summer and after Labor Day.

 On Harry Reid and what he is going to focus on in his last days in office:

Ralston: I think he wants to be thorn in the side of Republicans as much as he can. He’s made a career out of doing that and he’s very, very good at it. He’s obviously wants to try to get hearings for whoever Barack Obama nominates to the Supreme Court. He has been pounding Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA over that. I think he has several things he wants to cement as his legacy including renewable energy and the solar energy market here in Nevada, which he has been very active in both publically and privately. I think he would like to find a way to keep Yucca Mountain off the table but it’s going to be very, very difficult for him after he leaves and that’s a conundrum that I don’t think even Harry Reid can solve because it may have been dead as he has declared it dead many times during his tenure but I think it’s going to be very much alive after he leaves.

On Reid’s ability to get a vote on a Supreme Court nominee:

Sebelius: I don’t think so. The Republicans control whether or not they’re going to take that up. And the only thing he really has, and he has been exercising it, is the ability to everyday hit them and criticize them for failing to do their constitutional duty. And so I think you’re going to see those almost daily news releases continue as he tries to cajole Mitch McConnell into doing his constitutional job. It doesn’t look like they’ve moved so far. They’ve simple thrown criticism back at Reid.

On the big political story no one is talking about:

Ralston: The issue that is going to percolate is… the tax increase from the Legislature, which is not only going to be talked about in all of these races but there is an outside chance… that an initiative qualifies to put a repeal of at least part of that tax increase on the ballot, which will have huge long-term ramifications for this state, whether it wins or loses. And will effect a lot of those different races and the thing to watch is how far out Brian Sandoval is going to go to save the legislators, the Republican ones, who voted for that tax increase. He’ll help raise money but he’s going to have to do a lot more than that.


Steve Sebelius, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist, "Politics NOW" host and KNPR contributor;  Jon Ralston, Reno Gazette-Journal columnist, "Ralston Live" host and KNPR contributor

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