Candidate debates

The new boundaries of Nevada's four congressional districts - drawn by a panel of three "special masters" appointed by the court last year after Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed two attempts by the Democrat-controlled Legislature - are sensible.

There are no weird "salamander-like" projections; the districts successfully group together Nevadans who might be presumed to have common interests.

But neither Democrats nor Republicans are evenly dispersed across the Nevada landscape. So Nevada's 1st and 2nd districts, particularly, are now considered "gimmes" for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively. Neither is likely to pour many resources into a district where registration numbers give one side a large edge.

The problem comes when consultants advise candidates whose victories appear assured by their registration edge to essentially avoid giving an overmatched opponent publicity by participating in debates or other forums. This denies constituents a chance to see how their (almost certain) future representatives fare in a competitive give-and-take.

In Clark County's 1st District, former congresswoman Dina Titus is heavily favored over recently retired Naval officer Chris Edwards, her GOP opponent, based on party registration numbers. No debates between the two have yet been finalized.

Similarly, in Northern Nevada's 2nd District, incumbent Mark Amodei is probably content to ignore his Democratic opponent, 31-year-old Samuel Koepnick, who won the primary by spending $17.

But even "presumptive" officeholders are not allowed to report to those seats until they've submitted themselves to an election, the very purpose of which is for voters to get a look at the candidates, to hear what philosophies they embrace, what policies they propose and to witness how they fare in a debate of the issues.

Ms. Titus and Mr. Amodei should consent to at least three public debates in each district. Their future constituents deserve it - and they'll (almost certainly) be the better representatives, for it.


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