Although the state and national elections were held three weeks ago, newspaper columnists across the nation who cover politics continue to express their astonishment over the Democrats’ massive victories in Nevada.
For example, my old friend Guy W. Farmer, whose incisive weekly column has been published for years in our sister newspaper, Carson City’s Nevada Appeal, wrote last Saturday, “A dysfunctional state Republican Party that embraces right-wing extremists while rejecting party moderates” and “a bombastic, self-centered president, who alienated many independent voters such as myself,” contributed to Nevada’s statewide Democratic sweep.
Farmer’s comments were spot-on. In Nevada, a Democrat beat out incumbent GOP U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, and three of the state’s four congresspersons will continue to be Democrats. One of these four has family business ties to Fallon.
The state’s new governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, controller and attorney general were swept into office by the Democrats’ so-called “Blue Wave” as well. And both houses of the State Legislature will remain in the hands of the Democrats.
Nevada’s new Democratic congressperson with Fallon ties is Susie Lee, who defeated Republican Danny Tarkanian in the Third Congressional District race. Lee is the wife of Daniel R. Lee, the president and CEO of Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts, which owns a half-dozen casinos and resorts including Fallon’s Stockman’s Casino, the largest in Churchill County, Lee, 52, is one of eight children born to an Ohio steelworker and his wife. She had a newspaper home delivery route beginning at the age of 8 and currently is president of Communities in Nevada Schools which seeks to reduce the state’s severe school dropout rate.
In Congressional District Two, which includes Churchill County, incumbent Republican Mark Amodei easily beat out Democrat Clint Koble, a political unknown who received little party and financial support. In Nevada’s Fourth District, Democrat Steven Horsford bested Republican Cresent Hardy, and First District incumbent Dina Titus trounced GOP challenger Joyce Bentley.
Nevada’s new governor, Democrat Steve Sisolak, 64, who beat Nevada Attorney General Republican Adam Laxalt, the grandson of the late Nevada governor and U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt, is chairman of the Clark County Commission. He will be the first Democrat to be elected Nevada governor since Bob Miller won his second full term in 1994.
Sisolak, who is divorced and has two adult daughters, recently announced his engagement to Kathy Ong, an Ely native and founder and director of a Las Vegas financial consulting firm. Ong, if she marries Sisolak, would become the first Asian-American wife of a Nevada governor.
Nevada’s new Democratic lieutenant governor will be former two-term State Treasurer Kate Marshall, who defeated Republican State Senator Michael Roberson of Las Vegas. Marshall, an attorney who received her undergraduate and law degrees from UC Berkeley, also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya.
The Democrats’ biggest Nevada prize is the state’s new U.S. senator, one-term Las Vegas Congresswoman Jackie Rosen, who also was president of her synagogue. She defeated GOP incumbent Sen. Dean Heller in a closely-watched race that made national headlines. With Democrat Catherine Cortez Masto holding Nevada’s other Senate seat, it will be the first time since the late 1980s, when two Democratic senators, Harry Reid and Richard Bryan, served at the same time in the Senate. And it will be the first time that both Nevada senators are women.
Democrats scored their highest wins in Clark and Washoe counties in the Nov. 6 elections. The other 15 lightly-populated “cow” counties voted, as usual, for Republicans. Churchill County, one of the 15 “cows,” also went heavily Republican.
With the state gaining more Democratic voters, many of them Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans, Nevada GOP leaders must devise strategies to win them over and stem future catastrophic losses to the Democrats.
Reaching out to the Hispanics, who now represent more than 20 percent of the state’s population, and the other minorities as well, would be a good start. As Farmer recently wrote, “I attended the GOP Nevada Day Breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion last month, and you could count the number of minority attendees on one hand.”
David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.