Candidates for both state and local offices gathered Saturday at the Fallon Convention Center for the annual Lincoln Day dinner presented by the Churchill County Central Republican Committee.
Congressman Mark Amodei, who represents the largest congressional district in the state, mixed a few humorous barbs with a quick assessment of life in Washington, D.C. for the past seven months. Since this year’s dinner was held on St. Patrick’s Day, he said the reason some attendees were wearing green — one of Churchill County High School’s main colors — was because they were in Greenwave country.
“You’re in Fallon,” he quipped.
Amodei has been in the House of Representatives since September 2011 when he won a special election. A former state senator and chairman of the state Republican party, he succeed then-current representative, Dean Heller, who was appointed to fill the vacancy of the U.S. Senate seat held by John Ensign. Amodei has won three terms and his running for his fourth this year.
The Carson City native called his reflections on the nation’s capital as “Thoughts from the Ponderosa” or food for thought. The Ponderosa, to which he refers, was the ranch featured in the television show “Bonanza” and the Lake Tahoe home to the Cartwright family.
“The national media in this country really feels like they’re in charge of public opinion,” Amodei said, citing the overall polling reported on issues such as health care and immigration. “If the public doesn’t fall in line, it pisses them off.”
Amodei told the audience they must be critical thinkers and make their own assessments of the issues, not what is being told to them.
“This is just one type of perspective from the Ponderosa,” he said.
While Clark County has more registered Democrat than Republican voters, he said the other counties must step up including Washoe County. He said the Republican committee members in Nevada’s second most populous county feel they’ll have an increase in the number of registered voters. Additionally, he said the 15 rural counties, which lean heavily Republican, must never take anything for granted.
“Washoe County is becoming a rural county for election-day purposes,” he joked, drawing laughter and some applause from the crowd.
Because of the interest for U.S. Senate and governor — Amodei said they have become mini-national races. Heller is seeking re-election to the Senate, while Gov. Brian Sandoval is termed out, thus resulting in a full slate of candidates seeking the position.
“Millions of dollars will be spent on these races but not from people from Nevada,” he said, referring to special-interest groups.
The Nevada representative also gave a short insight into a recent conversation he had via text messaging about 10 days ago with Ryan Zinke, Interior secretary and a former Montana congressman who worked with Amodei when both served in Congress together. Amodei, who said he has a focus on the entire Bureau of Land Management role in Nevada, was on a two-hour layover at the Salt Lake City airport when he received a text from Zinke. According to Amodei, he expressed his frustration about BLM’s staff leadership and lack of communication.
“You have no problem talking to Heller,” Amodei said of his conversation.
Amodei said Zinke replied, saying he totally understood and that also would upset him. He advised Amodei to call him directly with his concerns.
Amodei then discussed his candidacy for Congress.
“I will be your advocate for you,” Amodei said. “I will never lay down for you.”
Amodei also referred the crowd to read a two-page information paper on school-related safety and the recent Florida school shooting that resulted in 17 deaths.
“The NRA (National Rifle Association) did not cause that to happen in all due respect,” Amodei said.
He then rhetorically asked who’s shooting other students at schools.
“It’s other students,” he answered. “There’s a start. What and why do they do it. If the issue is about safety, let’s talk about safety and not how the NRA sucks.”
Prior to Amodei’s keynote address, candidates were allowed to give a short speech about themselves and the reasons they are running for office.
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