State Sen. Michael Roberson gazes into the mirror, mirror


My God, it’s happened again!

We learned about the mirror universe in the Oct. 6, 1967, episode of “Star Trek” titled “Mirror, Mirror.” It posited an alternative, opposite reality: Where Capt. Kirk’s Federation was benevolent and peaceful, the mirror-universe version was warlike and bent on conquest. And now, we’ve seen another crossover, this time in the state Senate.

Back in 2011, then-freshman Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, was an obstreperous upstart. From Kansas by way of an internship with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Roberson gleefully brought a distinctly partisan brand of politics to his job.

He condemned the Senate as the puppet of union interests. He tangled with veterans such as Democratic Sen. Mike Schneider. He steadfastly opposed taxes.

But that was the Evil Roberson, from the mirror universe.

Somehow in 2013, a new Roberson appeared in the Senate. Where Evil Roberson was provocative, Good Roberson was thoughtful and cunning. He quickly became minority leader, an impressive jump in his sophomore session.

His political skill, a couple of good recruits and an unexpectedly wide red tide in 2014 made Good Roberson the majority leader. And he didn’t waste a second.

Good Roberson helped Gov. Brian Sandoval enact long overdue education reforms and the largest tax hike in state history — the first tax on business revenue ever in Nevada. And he still had time to pass a few bills of his own. Democrats were helpless to stop Good Roberson (who had all the passion of his Evil counterpart) from winning. Asked about the session later, Good Roberson said it’s not conservative to have a bad education system, and allowed that he was proud to have done something to help the children.

But that came to a halt when Good Roberson lost a bitter Republican primary for Congress to perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, whose mirror universe doppelgänger is an intelligent and successful politician who’s never lost a race.

Suddenly, Evil Roberson had returned to the Senate, where he now gleefully trolls Democrats.

Evil Roberson has tangled with fellow senators, local officials and even U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto over the issue of sanctuary cities, which he wants to ban in Nevada. (Good Roberson once co-sponsored a bill to allow drivers licenses for people in the country illegally.) Now, Evil Roberson says of Cortez Masto’s sanctuary cities legislation: “I look forward to watching this bill fail.”

Evil Roberson once more abjures taxes, including a fix to the property tax cap that might result in a tax increase. He’s threatened to hold the budget hostage over Education Savings Account funding. And he’s expected to oppose Democratic efforts for a big increase in the minimum wage (Good Roberson voted for a smaller minimum wage increase in 2015).

Evil Roberson even has an Evil Playbook that’s opposite of the Democrats’ Nevada Blueprint. The “Pathway Forward,” calls for fully funding ESAs, cutting car registration fees for seniors (Good Roberson voted to make permanent higher registration fees in 2015), fighting against business taxes (Good Roberson was instrumental in creating the state’s largest business tax), and enacting voter ID laws.

It’s not entirely clear how Evil Roberson and Good Roberson switched places; in “Star Trek,” it was a transporter malfunction during an ion storm. Here, it appears the pain of losing a primary election created a temporary singularity that bridged the gap between the two universes.

Either way, it’s bad news for Democrats, because while Evil Roberson and Good Roberson are polar opposites, they have one thing in common: They both know how to work the system to get things done.

Steve Sebelius is a Review-Journal political columnist. Follow him on Twitter (@SteveSebelius) or reach him at 702-387-5276 or SSebelius@reviewjournal.com.