Republican presidential adviser Sig Rogich said in an interview televised Tuesday that he is supporting the re-election of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid because replacing the most powerful member of Congress while the state is in the worst recession in memory is a bad idea.
Rogich, who made his comments during an interview in Las Vegas on the "Nevada NewsMakers" program, said having Reid serving the state as majority leader in the Senate rather than some new junior senator is the right approach for Nevada.
Rogich, a long-time Republican operative and George H.W. Bush adviser, is co-chairman of the "Republicans for Reid" campaign.
Replacing Reid, "is just wrong, it's just not the smart thing to do," he said.
"We're in protracted water negotiations with Arizona, with (Sen.) John McCain at the table, Utah, with (Sen.) Orrin Hatch, (Sen.) Dianne Feinstein representing California, and Colorado," Rogich said. "Who would you like to have at the table? A junior senator or a newly elected senator to argue about and protect the rights of our water for Nevada for the rest of our lifetime? That's how important this thing is."
Reid has not done a good job selling himself, but he has done extraordinary things for the state, Rogich said.
"I think you probably give him as much credit for building McCarran International Airport as anybody," he said.
"To lose him, I think it's just like a crap shoot," Rogich said.
What Reid needs to do is remind Nevada residents what he has done for the state, he said. Reid also needs to find alternative uses for Yucca Mountain now that a nuclear waste repository is no longer on the table, Rogich said.
"I think what he has done to keep Yucca out of here is extraordinary," he said.
Rogich criticized GOP Senate hopeful Sue Lowden for her stand on the repository.
"Sue Lowden thinks we ought to have Yucca here," he said. "That's how misinformed she is."
One spill of nuclear waste would destroy Southern Nevada's tourism economy, Rogich said.
"So why would you ever elect a senator, someone who wants to go to Washington and bring Yucca back," he said. "Why would that possibly be a good thing for our state?"
Yucca Mountain should be used for economic development, just not for nuclear waste, Rogich said.
When asked how the Nevada Legislature should deal with its estimated $3 billion-plus funding gap next year, Rogich said it is time to change the state's collective bargaining laws.
"There is something inherently wrong in this county, for example, where firefighters are making the kind of money they are making."
While praising the work they do, Rogich said firefighters should work eight-hour shifts like other workers and not roll up enough overtime to earn nearly $200,000 a year on average with benefits.
Governments can't afford to pay those benefits and taxes can't be raised to maintain them, he said.
"They've got to change the method of doing business in Carson City," Rogich said.
Rogich also said mining is not paying its fair share in Nevada.
"For years and years and years they build, they dig, they make big holes and when it's over, they will be gone," he said. "And I think if they don't change the tax structure for mining, I think the people of this state will change it."