Guy W. Farmer: Why Nevada turned blue
I haven’t written an election postmortem because I was on the road — actually, on the river between Memphis and Nashville — on Election Day, so today I’ll offer a few belated thoughts on why Nevada turned blue earlier this month. It was a complete and total Democrat sweep and Republicans have only themselves to blame for their electoral debacle.
Despite the fact that Republicans won in Carson City and 14 more of Nevada’s 15 “cow counties,” Democrats won big where it counts, in Clark (Las Vegas and Henderson) and Washoe (Reno) counties, where more than 75 percent of Nevada voters reside. Victorious Democrats benefited from the influx of liberal Californians into Nevada’s population centers; the continuing effectiveness of the “Reid Machine,” which turns out thousands of Democrat voters in Southern Nevada, and a dysfunctional state Republican Party that embraces right-wing extremists while rejecting party moderates. That’s a recipe for defeat.
We could add a couple of more factors to explain the Democrat sweep: (1) our bombastic, self-centered president, who alienated many independent voters (including yours truly), and (2) demographics, which saw many more Hispanics and minority voters go to the polls. Hispanics now account for between 20 and 25 percent of total votes cast in our state and Republicans ignore them at their peril. 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.
I don’t often agree with Nevada’s best-known political analyst, Jon Ralston, a hyper-partisan Democrat, but I did agree with him when he wrote that Nevada “is no longer a key swing state in presidential contests. … We are purple no more; we are blue. We (chokes up) do not matter.” I’m choked up too, Jon, because the Californication of Nevada is proceeding apace. We look almost nothing like the independent, maverick state I moved to in 1962 and more and more like our very “progressive” neighbor to the West. How sad!
Nevada has usually enjoyed balanced representation in the U.S. Senate, between north and south, and between Democrats and Republicans, but not this year because both of our senators, Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen, will be Las Vegas Democrats. However, the good news is that neither of them is a radical Democratic Socialist who wants the government to run everything and hand out lots of free stuff, thereby punishing hard-working, law-abiding taxpayers.
And poor Adam Laxalt. Half of his family loves him while the other half hates him. Meanwhile, Gov. Steve Sisolak, another Las Vegas Democrat, will have to locate Carson City on the map before he takes office in January.
In other statewide races, I was sorry to see highly qualified Attorney General candidate Wes Duncan lose to vastly underqualified Assemblyman Aaron Ford, who sports a criminal record and unpaid debts. Here in Carson, I congratulate Sheriff Ken Furlong, Assemblyman Al Kramer, Supervisor-elect Stacey Giomi and Justice of the Peace-elect Kristin Luis on their well-deserved victories.
A footnote on my Memphis to Nashville cruise: We were in Middle America or the American Heartland, take your pick, where patriotic people salute the flag and stand for the National Anthem. We attended Veterans Day parades in Nashville and Clarkesville, Tenn., where I was proud to be an American and an Air Force veteran. I even received a free back rub in a Nashville honky-tonk because I’m a veteran.
CORRECTION: I recently wrote that Pocahontas accompanied Lewis and Clark on their epic voyage of discovery to the West. Of course I meant Sacagawea. That was my error, and I apologize for it.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.