A conservative’s view of the election | NevadaAppeal.com

A conservative’s view of the election

Bob Thomas

It’s time for a conservative’s view of the upcoming election. My advantage over “candidates’ nights” and newspapers that interview candidates – and then select one over the other – is that I know most of them personally. As a three-term former legislator, and as your Nevada Appeal legislative commentator for several years I’ve observed first-hand what they do, and say, in unguarded, unrehearsed situations. Few columnists have that kind of experience.

Let’s start with the governor’s race: While Jim Gibbons isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, he isn’t a sneaky-clever type either. And that’s worth a lot. Yes, he fell for that Las Vegas cocktail waitress sting hook line and sinker. What a set-up, obviously orchestrated by a real pro. But his innocent stupidity in wanting to help that girl speaks well of him as a person. What are his debts and to whom? Campaign money from gaming, like every Nevada candidate. But gaming doesn’t own Gibbons like it owned Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Dina Titus, if elected, will introduce dialogue on a Nevada income tax within her four-year term. Oh, she’s too clever to do it openly but her legislator friends will do it and she’ll support it. She’s never seen a tax that she didn’t support, of course, always in the name of education. Higher education is already one of the biggest businesses in our state. Now think about it. Why would we citizens want a college political science teacher as governor? What can she possibly know about creating a climate for economic prosperity? Where is her private sector influence? My unenthusiastic vote will go to Gibbons.

The congressional race between Jill Derby and Dean Heller is a tossup except that a vote for Derby is a vote for California’s Nancy Pelosi to be the next Speaker of the House of Representatives. That is downright scary when you consider that the House speaker is third in line for the presidency should the president and vice president get wiped-out. Derby, in my opinion, isn’t qualified for the job because she hasn’t been a legislator. As a University regent she was mainly a lobbyist for higher education. Heller, on the other hand, was a legislator of sorts and is qualified but lacks a reputation for hard work. My unenthusiastic vote will go to Heller because of the Pelosi risk.

Concerning the constitutional offices: Secretary of State, Controller and Treasurer, I don’t think it makes much difference whom you vote for. Those are non-partisan offices but I think the candidates secretly hope to spring forth someday into the governor’s mansion or Congress if, and when, they get enough name recognition. Elected officials don’t run those offices. They are merely figureheads. Classified state employees run those offices.

One race that’s dear to my heart is the Carson City supervisor’s race between Neil Weaver and Pete Livermore. I’ve worked with Weaver for years on the Airport Authority. Both he and I have been chairman twice. And the Carson City Airport is the best run, most efficient property the city owns. Neil Weaver is more responsible for our airport prosperity than anyone else. Now, there is a good old boy-girl club on the Board of Supervisors consisting of Livermore, Staub and Williamson. They vote as a block, freezing out the mayor and Supervisor Aldean. The Livermore and Staub families go back many years in a business relationship. It’s time to breakup that clique by electing Neil Weaver. And while you’re at it, elect Tom Keeton, too.

The University regent’s race is an interesting one. It’s no secret that I support Ron Knecht because he is one of the most broadly educated men that you could possibly want in a job overseeing the university system, and his experience as a legislator gives him a leg-up on using the system to the advantage of the taxpayers. While Knecht will never do anything to hurt the university system, he isn’t likely to be rolled over and snowed by administrators and faculty as regents typically are. University administrators and the Faculty Alliance are the most ruthless people I know when it comes to money. When I was the chairman of the Higher Education Funding Committee on the 1985 Ways and Means Committee I kept my hand on my wallet when dealing with those guys. My vote for regent will happily go to Ron Knecht.

What about the Assembly races? I like Tom Grady over Cathylee James. Tom has done a creditable and credible job as the incumbent. He is a good, steady head who doesn’t go off half-cocked like some legislators do. Concerning the race between Bonnie Parnell and Sheila Ward, Ward was a school board member who has good instincts concerning public education. Parnell, is an ex teacher who owes her soul to the teacher’s union. No badly needed public education reform will ever happen in Nevada as long as Parnell is chairperson of the Assembly Education Committee.

By the way, my voter registration is “Independent.” No political party.