Ex-bank executive aims to challenge Titus

CORRECTION -- 08/21/09-- An article about congressional candidate John Guedry in Wednesday’s Review-Journal contained incorrect information. The former banker says he was eligible for a bonus for work at City National Bank in 2008 but declined the money.

Former bank executive and longtime Southern Nevadan John Guedry says he will challenge Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., for her seat in Congress.

With the help of the Republican National Congressional Committee, expect Guedry to try and link Titus to polarizing Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and stoke anti-incumbent sentiment.

Guedry has enlisted the help of political consultant Ryan Erwin of Las Vegas, a health care specialist who helped create ads in 2004 that depicted doctors fleeing Nevada on foot. The ads were credited with helping encourage voters to approve a $350,000 cap on malpractice damages for pain and suffering.

Having Erwin and the Republican National Congressional Committee on board early suggests Guedry will be the front-running challenger to Titus in 2010. He faces primary opposition from Brad Lord-Leutwyler of Henderson, a Republican who on his Web site says the party establishment has "lost its way."

During an interview Tuesday Guedry, who has never held political office, described himself as a moderate who supports modest health care reform and will not strictly hew to America's most strident conservative leaders such as radio host Rush Limbaugh.

"We have an extreme left and an extreme right agenda, and the people in the middle aren't talking," Guedry said. "I've seen us move further and further away form a common-sense approach."

When it comes to health care overhaul, Guedry said, "Reform is needed, it is just how you address that reform."

He did not get into specifics, other than to say that health care reform should preserve high-quality aspects of American care, such as the use of advanced technology to produce drugs and equipment, and that people with pre-existing conditions or those who want to leave their jobs should not have to fear losing their insurance.

Whether the non-partisan rhetoric will hold up remains to be seen.

Conservative activist Chuck Muth said Limbaugh's rhetoric resonates with millions of listeners, many of whom are voters who will demand candidates take strong conservative stands.

That is why Republican politicians who have challenged Limbaugh have in some cases regretted it.

"They don't have to agree with him on every issue, but they better listen to him," Muth said.

In 2008, Titus knocked off incumbent Republican Jon Porter by winning 47 percent of the vote compared with Porter's 42 percent.

Since then, she has presented herself to voters as a centrist who has opposed proposals by President Barack Obama to change mortgage interest deductions for primary homes and change the way itemized deductions are calculated for people earning more than $250,000.

"She's here to represent her constituents in the third district," Titus spokesman Andrew Stoddard said.

Given the state of the national economy and Nevada's high rate of home foreclosures, Titus and her supporters probably will remind voters that Guedry is a former banker.

On Tuesday, Democrats sent a message criticizing Guedry for accepting a bonus in 2008 while working for City National, which took $400 million in federal loans.

Guedry did not hold a position at City National that required reporting the amount of the bonus to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but in February, a bank spokesman confirmed to the Review-Journal that Guedry received a bonus "significantly lower than in previous years."

In a statement Tuesday, Sam Lieberman, chairman of the Nevada State Democratic Party said, "John Guedry claims he's outraged by federal spending, yet he had no problem taking a bonus while his bank took $400 million in taxpayer money."

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861.