GOP Nevada Senate race strategy: Don’t debate

In the three competitive Nevada Senate races that will determine whether Republicans retake control of the upper house, the GOP candidates have refused to debate their Democratic opponents.

In response, the Nevada Democratic Party has been saying Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, one of the candidates, is afraid of public scrutiny. The party dusted off its chicken suit to mock him, as well.

Roberson, who’s running for re-election to Senate District 20, said last week he and his two hand-picked candidates in those key races decided it’s better to focus on face-to-face voter contacts and calls to sway the Nov. 4 electorate.

“We’re winning these races,” Roberson told the Review-Journal editorial board Thursday. “We’re not going to debate Senate Democrats who take their advice from an intern dressed in a chicken outfit.”

“I think very few voters watch these debates,” he added, saying he’s busy knocking on “thousands of doors.”

Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, sent out an email to supporters last week saying the Republicans “went back on their word” and canceled plans to debate their Democratic opponents.

“Their refusal to debate our candidates makes us ponder one question: What are they afraid of?” Denis said.

Now, Democrats control the Senate by an 11-10 margin.

Democrat Teresa Lowry, a Clark County assistant district attorney, is challenging Roberson.

In the other two key races, Sen. Justin Jones, D-Las Vegas, is facing GOP challenger Becky Harris, a foreclosure mediation specialist, in Senate District 9; and Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, D-Las Vegas, and Republican Patricia Farley, a construction business owner, are competing for the open Senate District 8 seat now held by Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas. Cegavske is running for secretary of state.

— Laura Myers

NOTHING LOW-KEY ABOUT IT

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., tried Thursday to low-key the personal achievement, refusing interviews or even to allow his staff to put out a statement in his name.

But as the House prepared that evening to take its final vote before recessing until after the November elections, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., asked for everyone’s attention and made an announcement:

“Yesterday our friend and colleague Congressman Joe Heck was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserve.”

With the applause that followed, the cat was out of the bag for Heck, who as a one-star general became the highest-ranking active or former member of the military in the current Congress. A subcommittee chairman on the House Armed Services Committee, the two-term Nevada Republican has served in the Army Reserve for 23 years.

A brigadier general serves as an adviser and deputy commander under a two-star major general who commands a division-sized unit of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers, according to Military-Ranks.org. Heck, 52, already has been holding such a post as deputy commander in the Atlanta-based 3rd Medical Command.

“I finally have the rank to go with the position I’m in,” said Heck, who carries out reserve duties on weekends and during congressional breaks. He was in Atlanta this past weekend on reserve duty.

Heck, an osteopath who has held medical posts in the military, credited his advance to a mentor, retired Maj. Gen. Lei-Ping Chang, who is now a family doctor in Alexandria, Va. Heck, then 36, served with Chang in the 2290th U.S. Army Hospital at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 1997.

Chang, who was then a colonel, “took an interest in me,” Heck said. “He said, ‘I see you have the potential to command,’ and he said this is what you need to do and he sat me down and walked me through it. I just followed his path.” In the years that followed, Heck took the classes, accepted assignments and achieved performance reviews that broadened his experience and built his resume.

Heck finally was recommended for a general’s star in May 2013, but his nomination got held up at the Pentagon for more than a year as the brass wrestled with the idea of promoting a sitting member of Congress.

“There were issues within the Department of Defense,” Heck said in an interview Thursday outside the U.S. Capitol. “This is something they hadn’t dealt with previously and so everybody wanted to make sure everything was done according to law, regulation, code. It just took awhile.”

That also might explain what Heck called a “bright line” he tries to keep between his military and political careers, and why he was reticent to call attention to the promotion after the U.S. Senate made it official on Wednesday night.

“They are two different parts of my life,” Heck said. “I am trying to make sure there is no crossover, no impropriety. When I’m here, I do this, and when I am there, I do that.”

The promotion to general became effective immediately, Heck said, dismissing initial reports he needed to be sworn in. “The paperwork was in my mailbox the next morning,” he said.

— Steve Tetreault

TESTY STADIUM TALK

There’s nothing like a proposal to use public dollars to build a professional sports stadium to get people’s juices going.

And the Las Vegas soccer stadium’s chief advocate, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, is a good example.

Already known for speech-making that has a circuitous delivery of thoughts, Goodman has been especially noteworthy for her talks during the city’s six stadium town hall meetings this month.

On Thursday night in Councilman Bob Beers’ Summerlin ward, Goodman went off on a resident who apparently was making faces at her while she was giving her pitch for the soccer stadium.

She yelled at the resident, explaining she was ticked off and asked him what is he doing to improve Las Vegas.

During her talk, Goodman also referred to the Islamic State militant group looking to behead people in Australia, in an apparent attempt to put the proposal to build a city-subsidized soccer stadium into some sort of perspective.

— Alan Snel

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter. Contact Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter. Contact Alan Snel at asnel@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273. Follow @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.

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