2022 elections looking good for Nevada, new survey finds

Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Who says we’re at the top of every bad list?

According to a new nationwide study conducted by the Democracy Initiative Education Fund, Nevadans should have a high level of confidence that the 2022 midterm elections will be fair. The study found that Nevada – along with California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington state – rank highly for having election systems that make voter registration and voting relatively easy.

No state got a perfect score in the survey, which examined factors including voter registration, voter identification, early voting, ballot acceptance, logistical barriers to voting, voting equipment and security, vote auditing and independent election certification.

The survey — titled Storming State Capitols — found voters in 18 states will face roadblocks to voting, and ranked Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri last in the rankings.

The survey is a credit to election officials in Nevada, including Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria, who worked under difficult circumstances in 2020 to ensure a fair election, despite unfounded and unproven claims of voter fraud made by former President Donald Trump and his followers. An investigation by Cegavske’s office into allegations found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and every lawsuit filed making those claims – in Nevada and nationwide – was rejected.

It’s also a credit to lawmakers who approved laws ranging from early voting, countywide voting centers, voting-by-mail and same-day registration laws, all of which ease the process of voting.

You can read the full report for yourself here.

Danny’s debate disaster

Perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian – who ran for office and lost six times from Clark County before winning a Douglas County Commission seat by 17 votes in 2020 – is not known as a great debater. That perception was underscored during a face off on the “Nevada Newsmakers” television program recently.

Tarkanian – who is taking on Republican incumbent Mark Amodei in the 2nd Congressional District – criticized the congressman for voting in favor of an omnibus spending bill, which contributes to an increase in the national debt. The bill contained $10 billion in pork spending, Tarkanian said, adding unhelpfully that Amodei had only managed to bring one-tenth of 1 percent of that pork back to Nevada.

You see what’s coming, right?

“I find it interesting when you sit there and talk about all the money we’re spending and then you turn around and criticize me for not bringing back more?” Amodei said. “That’s an interesting case of bipolar complex. Thank you.”

But this wasn’t the worst Tarkanian debate disaster. Back in 2018, during a debate on KLAS Channel 8’s “PoliticsNOW” co-hosted by Patrick Walker and this reporter, Walker asked Tarkanian about his repeated denunciations of regulations on the campaign trail. If you are elected, name three regulations you’d try to get rid of, Walker asked.

Sadly, Tarkanian could not name even one.

Democrat on Democrat violence

Eyebrows raised back in December when Gov. Steve Sisolak appointed ex-principal Lisa Cano Burkhead to serve as lieutenant governor, despite Henderson Mayor Debra March’s interest in the job. Some Democrats wondered why Sisolak wouldn’t give a boost to March, who has high name recognition and fundraising ability.

Things didn’t get better after March declared herself in an email the “only qualified candidate” in the race. Sisolak did not defend his choice, or at least assert that she was qualified. (For the record, the constitution says only that the lieutenant governor shall have the same qualifications as the governor, i.e. be 25 years old and a citizen resident of Nevada for two years before the election.)

But there are some Democrats who are targeting March. Assemblywoman Selena Torres, D-Las Vegas, issued a release that slammed March for a “troubling record on immigration.”

Immigration? What, is she building a wall between Henderson and Boulder City?

No, Torres pointed to an agreement between Henderson and the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house immigration detainees in the city’s jail. ICE pays Henderson to house detainees.

Torres is demanding March answer questions about the arrangement, including whether she agrees with immigration policies of the Trump administration, whether she ever questioned the arrangement and whether she took steps to end it.

“Debra March cannot claim to want to be a leader of our state by hiding in the shadows. Nevada families deserve better than silence and cowardice,” Torres said in a statement.

In response, March campaign spokeswoman Liz Trosper called the allegations old news and defended March’s record in Henderson.

“We are disappointed that Assemblywoman Selena Torres would take a topic from 2013, almost 9 years ago, and surface it in an election year, where she is supporting Mayor Debra March’s opponent,” Trosper said in a statement. “Under Mayor March’s leadership, the City of Henderson has flourished and is rated the second safest big city in the nation. She hopes to bring those leadership skills to the state level.”

Oh, and if both Sisolak and March win? That’s going to make for an awkward inauguration day conversation.

Battle of the mascots

Nevada politics has always had its mascots, some good, some not so much. Democrats have fielded their famous “chicken” mascot for years, when trying to underscore a particular candidate’s lack of courage. They followed that up once with a parrot, to show a candidate was an echo of somebody else.

There were the epic bombs, such as Mitch the Turtle, a one-and-done mascot designed to mimic Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. And then there were the simply epic, such as the time in 2010 when ex-Democratic staffer Phoebe Sweet brought a live goat to a Sue Lowden for U.S. Senate campaign office to ask to barter for health care, exploiting an unforced Lowden error.

Now the Adam Laxalt for U.S. Senate campaign has contrived its own mascot, known as Gas Can Man, a red fuel canister whose job is to draw attention to high gas prices and pin the blame on President Joe Biden. It’s not the worst line of attack – everybody who drives and pays higher prices is angry about it, and Democrats are doing everything but siphoning gas from federal fleet cars and selling it at a discount to get voters’ minds off the topic.

But, Gas Can Man? Well, it’s better than Mitch the Turtle, but it’s not even close to a live goat.

Speaking of advertising

Some might think it’s bold for Democrats to be talking about tax increases around tax day, since theirs is the party most closely associated with tax hikes. (To be fair, they say they are only going after wealthy folks and big corporations.)

But the Democratic National Committee is buying a slate of digital ads in some key states – including Nevada – to remind people of Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s tax plan, which would see more people pay taxes, and certainly not just wealthy folks. Scott’s theory is that the more people with “skin in the game,” the more people are likely to revolt at paying taxes. But even McConnell was chagrined when Scott – who is in charge of electing Republicans to the Senate this cycle – unveiled his idea, since McConnell wants all the focus to be on the Biden administration.

“This Tax Day, don’t forget: Republicans want to raise YOUR taxes. Can you afford it?,” the ad asks. “Millions of Americans could see a bigger tax bill if Republicans win control in DC.” The ad links to a Democratic website detailing its criticism of Scott’s plan.

China backs … John Lee?

Yes, China is backing John Lee for chief executive, just not our John Lee, the North Las Vegas mayor who running for the Republican nomination for governor. The John Lee who has Beijing’s support is the former No. 2 official in Hong Kong, who is now running for leader. Given that the chief executive there is elected by an executive committee of 1,500 people, most of whom are pro-China, Hong Kong John Lee has a pretty good shot.

Quote of the week

“You know, when you’re in television for 18 years, that’s like a poll. That means people like you.” – Former President Donald Trump, discussing his endorsement of Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.