Can Reno’s mayor run again? Will Nevada get the 2024 Democratic convention?

Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve discusses COVID-19 impacts and the city's response on March 13, 2020 ...

Not again!

In 2014, Reno gadfly George “Eddie” Lorton upended municipal politics across Nevada with a term-limits lawsuit — Lorton v. Jones — that changed the dynamics of serving in local governments.

Up until then, most everyone thought that the office of mayor was one thing and council member another. You could serve for up to 12 years as a council member, and then run for mayor for another 12.

Not so, said the Nevada Supreme Court: In most local governments in the state, the mayor is just another council member. So if you serve two terms on the council, for example, you can serve as mayor for only four years before you hit the 12-year limit.

The ruling changed plenty of political calculations across the Silver State, not least of them former Reno Councilwoman Jessica Sferrazza, who was denied the chance to serve as mayor of her hometown because of the ruling. (Lorton ran that year but lost in the primary.)

Now, Lorton’s back, running again for mayor and threatening a lawsuit because he says incumbent Mayor Hillary Schieve is ineligible to serve again.

But is she? Schieve was elected to a four-year council term in 2012, but she ran for mayor in 2014, the year Lorton managed to knock Sferrazza off the ballot. That means, all told, she’s served for 10 years: two on the council, and eight as mayor.

The state constitution says “No person may be elected to any state office or local governing body who has served in that office, or at the expiration of his current term if he is so serving will have served, 12 years or more….” But Schieve has served for just 10 years, and her current term expires this year. If re-elected, she could serve an additional four years, for a total of 14.

The case may yet end up in court, but for now, it looks like Lorton will have to face off with Schieve the old-fashioned way, at the ballot box, not in a courtroom.

Are you running for something?

Rep. Mark Amodei is a conservative Republican, but he’s not known for highly public demonstrations of that fact. This week, however, he issued a news release about a pre-primary endorsement in a House race two states away, a race that has captured the attention of former President Donald Trump.

Amodei — along with about 100 other Republicans — endorsed and co-hosted a fundraiser for Harriet Hageman, who is running against Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., a member of the House committee investigating Jan. 6 and a fierce Trump critic. He reminded readers he was one of the first Republicans to vote to remove Cheney from her job in leadership after Cheney condemned Trump for his role in the Capitol attack.

“Instead, to this day, Cheney has made it her sole mission and purpose to press forward with her January 6 witch hunt, condemning American citizens based on a purely politically-motivated and selfishly-driven agenda with no respect for our judicial system or laws,” Amodei said in his statement. “There is no place for Liz Cheney in Congress, and the people of Wyoming will decide that for themselves this August.”

The fundraiser brought in more than $215,000, according to Politico.

So why is the usually quiet Amodei calling a legitimate inquiry into a violent riot at his workplace a “witch hunt”? Or saying Cheney has no respect for laws when several witnesses have flouted subpoenas from the committee?

Could it be because, for the first time in a long time, Amodei faces a primary himself, from Douglas County Commissioner Danny Tarkanian? Tarkanian ran repeatedly and unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate and the House from Southern Nevada, and now sees Amodei’s seat as his ticket to the Capitol. Amodei has to shore up his right flank before the inevitable primary attacks come.

Only 2½ months until the primary!

Still in the running!

Chicago is one of the cities that Democrats are considering for their 2024 political convention, according to NBC News. But whatever: Chicago has hosted the convention more than any other city, a total of 25 times according to our analysis.

But you know who’s still in the running? Las Vegas, a city that has never hosted a political convention. NBC says the city is a “strong contender” for the event. The Democratic National Committee has solicited letters of interest, but no formal requests for proposals have gone out yet.

Now’s the time, Las Vegas. Although there are logistical challenges surrounding security, we can overcome them. If we can shut down streets and weld manhole covers and build temporary bridges for cars and people to accommodate a Formula One race, we can figure out how to do a convention, too.

So c’mon, Gov. Steve Sisolak, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Nevada Resort Association and Clark County Commission! Let’s prove Las Vegas is the only place to host a political convention! Let’s at least get there before Orlando beats us to it!

And speaking of Nevada first

The Democratic National Committee may also be doing Las Vegas a favor with potential changes to the presidential nominating calendar for 2024. The party is considering selecting five states to hold contests before March, based in part on criteria such as ethnic diversity, geographic diversity, union population, and the ability to conduct a fair and transparent process.

Hello, Nevada! We check all of those boxes, not to mention we’ve already passed a state law calling for a presidential preference primary election in February 2024!

CNN reports that members of a DNC committee reacted favorably to a draft proposal to change the nominating calendar. Can you imagine the prospect of holding both the first in the nation primary and the 2024 Democratic political convention in Las Vegas? It’s not as exciting as a Formula One race, or the Super Bowl, but it’s still a pretty good get.

About that endorsement

Last week, we reported Republican state treasurer candidate Manny Kess had a lot of endorsements from big-name Republicans that he was using to blunt the impact of Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore jumping into his race.

But a couple of the people on that list reconsidered after Fiore announced her candidacy. Former Congressman Cresent Hardy and former Lieutenant Gov. Mark Hutchison have both withdrawn their early backing. It turns out, both Hardy and Hutchison lent their support to Kess early, but reconsidered once Fiore got in on the penultimate day of filing.

Kess’ website now reflects his remaining endorsements, sans Hardy and Hutchison.

At last, real issues!

North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee switched from being a Democrat to a Republican before he announced his run for the GOP nomination for governor, so he’s had some ground to make up with the party faithful.

Lee’s media has been full of things that appeal to the base: Claiming his administration will “protect life” (notwithstanding the fact that abortion cannot be made illegal in Nevada without a vote of the people); asking if Hillary Clinton should be in jail; condemning President Joe Biden and Sisolak’s “failed fiscal and socially radical policies;” and even accusing Canada of becoming the western hemisphere’s China.

Lee only occasionally refers to his strongest election argument — his stewardship of North Las Vegas. People forget that when Lee arrived, the state was close to taking over the city because of its fiscal problems.

Lee addresses that issue in a new ad, saying how he overhauled the city’s finances without raising taxes, saving the city from debt. And, “to combat inflation,” he lowered sewage fees by 30 percent.

It’s probably even money that base voters want to hear Trumpian rhetoric as much or more than boring details about municipal governance, but if Lee ever ends up actually being governor, his experience in North Las Vegas will matter a lot more than whether he wore a MAGA hat on the campaign trail.

Contact Steve Sebelius at Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.