A pre-election feud between U.S. Sen. Harry Reid and the Democratic Senate hopeful in South Dakota came to a head Friday when the candidate, Rick Weiland, called for the Nevadan to be replaced as Senate party leader.
“This is a fight I intend to continue no matter how long it takes,” Weiland said in a statement, “because it is a fight for the new leadership the Congress must have if the larger battle to drive big money out of Congress, and thus open the door to progress for all of America, is to succeed.”
Weiland was sending a letter to Senate candidates in other states asking them to join “a national petition drive” to seek Reid’s ouster and recruit progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or some other Democrat to take his place.
“I wish you the very best of luck in your campaign, and I look forward, should we each be fortunate enough to succeed in our campaigns, to working with you to bring new leadership to our party, the Senate, and the country at large,” Weiland wrote.
Weiland is expected to lose his bid to succeed retiring Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson.
The businessman candidate has charged Reid and national Democrats “sabotaged” his campaign by running negative ads against the Republican candidate, former Gov. Mike Rounds, that backfired.
Weiland said Democrats were trying to boost independent Larry Pressler at his expense, a charge that brought a denial from Democrats in Washington.
At the outset of the race, Reid tried to recruit another Democrat, former House member Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, but she declined.
“He’s not my choice,” Reid said when Weiland got into the race anyway. He commented on another occasion that South Dakota in all likelihood was lost.
The race caused a reported rift earlier this fall between Reid and his friend, former Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who once employed Weiland as a senior adviser.
In early October, when the race looked for a short while that it might tighten, the Democrats’ Senate campaign arm said it would spend up to $1 million but for naught.
Said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson: “Desperation is an ugly thing, and it’s sad to see Rick Weiland ending his ill-advised campaign and brief political career by attacking fellow Democrats.”
— Steve Tetreault
DISCLOSURE ISSUE IN COURT
A longstanding dispute over whether the conservative group Citizen Outreach has to disclose the source of its funding for two political flyers it sent out criticizing a lawmaker back in 2010 will be considered by the Nevada Supreme Court today.
In July 2013 the group was fined $10,000, plus attorneys fees, by Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell for failing to report the source of the funds for the flyers aimed at then-Assemblyman John Oceguera during his re-election campaign.
Secretary of State Ross Miller took legal action against Citizen Outreach in 2011, arguing the mailers constituted express advocacy in the race and so required disclosure of who paid for them under state law.
The mailers sent out criticizing Oceguera in October 2010 highlighted his record on tax hikes and accused him of being “a double-dipping government employee.”
Oceguera won re-election in 2010 and was termed out of office in 2012.
Citizen Outreach appealed Russell’s ruling, and today the court will hear oral arguments in the case which now dates back four years. A decision won’t be issued until later.
The group is claiming a First Amendment right to protect the source of the contributors for the fliers.
Chuck Muth, president of Citizen Outreach, said he will attend the hearing on a case he called an important one on the issue of political advocacy. It is the first time the issue has come to the state Supreme Court, he said.
“This will be the first time we get to make our case,” Muth said. “The District Court ruled against us without hearing our arguments. I hope we prevail, and I think we have a good chance.”
In its appeal, Citizen Outreach argues that Miller is trying to impose Political Action Committee status in an unconstitutional manner.
“Specifically, this enforcement action seeks detailed contributor information from appellant absent a finding that Citizen Outreach has the major purpose of influencing a Nevada election,” it states.
The group cites the campaign finance decision of Buckley v. Valeo, that it says makes contributor information compulsory only from organizations that exist to expressly advocate a particular result in an election.
“No such finding was made here,” the filing states.
Miller has argued the mailers constituted express advocacy “because there is no reasonable interpretation of these communications other than as an appeal to vote for or against a clearly identified candidate on the ballot.”
— Sean Whaley
‘STAR WARS’ IT’S NOT
The force is strong with the North Las Vegas mayor’s chief of staff.
Ryann Juden donned “Star Wars” cuff links for the unveiling of the mayor’s mystery plan Oct. 28, an homage to the cryptic, jokey clue that surrounded the scheme: “The rebels are coming back to the Death Star.”
The announcement leaves few dots for George Lucas fans to connect.
The city wants to create a tax incentive district in order to spur development at Apex, its roughly 20,000-acre industrial park.
Still, the plan does represent a return: North Las Vegas is using the legislation created in a September special session to bring Tesla to Northern Nevada.
At the news conference, Mayor John Lee made a point of saying the electric car maker considered building its battery gigafactory in North Las Vegas.
“We just weren’t prepared (for Tesla),” Lee said. “We’ll be prepared for the next group, though.”
For the cash-strapped city’s residents, it’s likely they’re just hoping the project doesn’t embody the Star Wars quote: “It’s a trap!”
— Bethany Barnes
HOLDER FIGHTS INELIGIBILITY RULING
As Election Day rapidly approaches, Jesse “Jake” Holder is fighting a Clark County District Court judge’s Wednesday ruling that he is ineligible to be a candidate in Assembly District 10.
That ruling against the Democrat came after his Republican opponent, Shelly Shelton, filed a complaint that accused Holder of not living in the district, which lies in the central part of the Las Vegas Valley.
Robert Flummerfelt, Holder’s attorney, said he anticipates that a motion for reconsideration of the order will be filed today.
“We look forward to discussing the case with the judge, and we believe we have a meritorious position,” Flummerfelt said.
Holder was several minutes late to the hearing Wednesday, and the order came down in a brief hearing without any input from him or his legal counsel. It wasn’t until after the hearing that Holder enlisted the services of Flummerfelt’s firm, Canon Law Services.
It’s the GOP’s second residency challenge in this election cycle. District Judge Nancy Allf ruled Oct. 16 that Democrat Meghan Smith is ineligible to be a candidate in Assembly District 34 because she failed to meet residency requirements. Both candidates will have their names on the ballot due to the timing of the rulings.
In Holder’s case, he’s unlikely to have a hearing on the motion before voters cast ballots Tuesday. That will put the judge in the position of making a decision on the matter after the votes are tallied.
If the top vote-getter in either race is the ineligible candidate, then the Assembly would decide who fills the seat. The Assembly could pick the individuals that previously were declared ineligible.
— Ben Botkin
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at email@example.com or 202-783-1760. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter. Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter. Contact Bethany Barnes at email@example.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @betsbarnes on Twitter. Contact Ben Botkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2904. Follow @BenBotkin1 on Twitter.