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John L. Smith On The Courting Of Nevada Voters

Associated Press

Legendary House Speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neil is credited for the famous political line, ”All politics is local.”  


That holds true for Democratic presidential candidates as they court voters in Nevada. 


Though none were born here, they are showing more expertise on some Nevada issues than many of our local experts. 


State of Nevada contributor John L. Smith pointed to a speech that presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders gave in Las Vegas outlining his affordable housing plan.

“The thing is that it’s focused on is something that’s really near and dear to a lot of Nevadans, especially in Southern Nevada where we had a building boom we had the big foreclosure crisis," he said, "So, homeownership is a real issue here. It hasn’t picked up like some people believe it would, construction especially has expanded in the housing market like some folks thought it might. So, you have this question of a renters’ community versus an owners’ community and Sanders is hitting on that. That’s got to have some appeal.”

Smith said the policy by Sanders speaks to the candidate's emphasis on the struggles of the middle class and it gets to the personalized message that candidates are looking to convey.

"In Nevada, we are first in the West for our caucus. A lot of these candidates come to town, they play small rooms, it shows you how important we are for them," he said, "They want that name ID out there. A lot of them really not as well known locally as they are on a national headline.”

Smith said at this point in the campaign candidates are trying to win the game one base at a time, instead of a home run.

However, he would like candidates to talk more about issues directly impacting Nevada like Colorado River use and public land disputes.

Chris Andrew's Book "And Then One Day" 

“It’s excellent and it’s a lot of fun to read,” Smith said.

The book details that last 40 years of sports betting in Nevada. 

“Chris Andrews is this guy who comes from – if there is sports betting royalty – he comes from it," Smith said.

Andrews' uncle is legendary sports book pioneer Uncle Jack Franzi. Smith explained that Andrews has worked in the industry for years and still works in it now as it changes dramatically.

"There is a question that kind of rises out of the book itself, ‘what is Nevada going to do to define itself in a new way to make a re-definition when so many states in the union are going to have kiosks where you can essentially bet anywhere at almost anytime,'" he said.

Storm Area 51

“It’s entertaining as far as it goes. The idea that they’re going to rush – first of all no one is going into Area 51 for very long. That will be resolved very quickly by the authorities," Smith said, “The idea that you can go from zero to a festival in rural Nevada so quickly absurd and dangerous. That’s just my opinion.”

He noted that the towns of Rachel and Hiko where the festivals and activities are supposed to be centered have very few facilities.

Smith suggestion is to put some work in and have the event ready for next year.

“There is a lot to be said for a little bit of planning before you Naruto run into the desert,” he said, "It’s got dumb at levels that just won’t quit."


John L. Smith, contributor

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.