Bill Clinton rallies Dems in Vegas

On a mission to save Nevada Democrats, former President Bill Clinton on Tuesday urged supporters at a rally to vote or suffer the consequences: a GOP-led Congress that would favor the rich over workers, try to repeal Obamacare and shut down the government “over and over and over.”

Clinton also said voters need to back Democratic candidates at the state and local levels because the policies they oversee affect Nevadans’ everyday lives and Republicans don’t support a minimum-wage hike or equal pay for women and want to roll back voter rights.

He said just because there’s no presidential election at stake is no excuse for Democrats to stay away from the polls, which would open the door to GOP victories on Nov. 4.

“A bunch of your life is shaped by people who aren’t on the ballot when we’re voting for presidents,” Clinton said, from governor to state treasurer to legislator. “This is a big deal.”

Laying out the high stakes, Clinton said the election will determine where Nevada and the nation go from here after recovering from the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

“What’s really on the ballot is whether we go back to a trickle-down economy and whether only the rich get the benefits or whether we have shared opportunity and shared responsibility and the same rules apply to one another,” Clinton said.

The Clinton rally was aimed at boosting lackluster Democratic voter turnout during early voting as the GOP builds a healthy lead that could sweep Republicans into the state’s five top offices and boot freshman U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.

The 4:30 p.m. rally at the Springs Preserve came a week before the Nov. 4 election. Democrats said about 700 people attended the open-air event.

It was scheduled at the last minute after Republicans shocked Democrats by beating them every day in early voting so far and in every key race. That’s a reversal of recent trends in the battleground state, which President Barack Obama won twice.

Statewide, Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than 62,000 registered voters. But during early voting, Republicans have built a 17,166-ballot lead over Democrats as of Tuesday morning thanks to an aggressive registration drive and get-out-the-vote effort.

The GOP is even ahead in Clark County by 2,094 ballots. The Democratic stronghold, where three quarters of the Nevada population lives, is normally where the party dominates, building an election firewall, while the GOP is far stronger in rural Nevada, with Washoe County serving as the swing county in the swing state.

In Horsford’s district, Republicans had cast 2,094 more ballots than Democrats so far, although there are some 33,156 more registered Democrats than Republicans in the 4th Congressional District, which covers northern Clark County and all or part of six rural counties. Horsford’s GOP opponent is Assembly­man Cresent Hardy of Mesquite.

The two-week early voting period ends Friday, a few days ahead of Election Day.

Clinton, in his remarks, defended Obama’s Affordable Care Act. He said 230,000 more people in Nevada have health insurance under Obamacare. He said premiums are expected to rise 1 percent next year, a far cry from runaway costs in the past.

“This thing is working, and we need to make it better,” Clinton said, adding that a GOP-led Congress “will go up there and vote another 50 times” to kill it.

“They’ll just shut the government down, over and over and over again,” he added. “They want you to believe it (the election) is about Ebola and ISIS. If something happens in the paper, it’s the president’s fault and you ought to vote against Democrats.”

“I don’t like it when these politicians play blame games,” Clinton added.

Clinton said voters shouldn’t think they can’t make a difference.

“It does matter,” he said of the midterm election. “It matters as much as the next presidential election.”

Clinton’s wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, is likely to run for president in 2016, and Nevada would be key to her hopes of winning the White House.

Clinton’s appearance came after Democratic candidates urged the crowd to vote early and to each get 10 people they know to vote to make up for lost ground against the GOP.

Horsford attended the rally as well as U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., attorney general candidate Ross Miller, secretary of state candidate Kate Marshall, lieutenant governor candidate Lucy Flores, and Erin Bilbray, the Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., who is expected to win a third term in the 3rd Congressional District.

This year, Democratic voters haven’t been excited by the midterm election when there’s no presidential or U.S. Senate contest at stake.

Also, the governor’s race is a sleeper after the Democrats failed to recruit a top-tier candidate.

As a result, the popular GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval has spent his time promoting Republican candidates, raising millions of dollars to help GOP contenders and, behind the scenes, rebuilding the GOP ground game into an electoral force.

State Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, who is Sandoval’s pick to become lieutenant governor, is expected to defeat his Democratic opponent, Flores, a Latina whose campaign never took off as she was outspent and outgunned.

The other high-profile race on the ballot, between Miller and Republican Adam Laxalt, has suddenly become one to watch. Miller, the better-known and better-funded secretary of state, was considered the front-runner, but now Laxalt, an attorney who moved to Nevada a few years ago, could score an upset if GOP turnout continues to dominate.

Miller could survive if he gains enough crossover support from Republicans, something his father and adviser, former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller, enjoyed as the state’s longest-serving governor from 1989 to 1999. Laxalt is the grandson of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Paul Laxalt, who dominated Nevada politics in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

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