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Flores switches campaign managers again

Maybe the third time’s the charm for Assemblywoman Lucy Flores.

Flores, D-Las Vegas, has hired her third campaign manager in five months since she announced her bid for Nevada lieutenant governor March 1.

The new manager is Kristina Hagen, a veteran of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in Virginia — a former GOP stronghold that he won in 2008 and 2012 — and an expert in election data.

She also managed a successful ballot initiative campaign to boost funding for public schools in Henrico County, Va.

“Kristina Hagen comes to the campaign with a strong background in data, field and campaign management, as well as a history of winning tough races,” said Brandon Hall, an adviser to Flores’ campaign and the former 2010 campaign manager for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., a major Flores supporter.

“Hagen will be a real asset to our campaign.”

Flores’ first campaign manager, Addisu Demissie, was hired on a temporary basis to help kick off the Democrat’s campaign.

Demissie also worked for Obama’s campaign and managed the election of U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.

Her second campaign manager, Pete Hackeman, apparently didn’t see eye to eye with Flores.

Hall called him a hard worker but added, “He wasn’t the right fit for this campaign.”

With the Nov. 4 election 99 days away, Flores has little time to waste in her bid to beat state Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, who is backed by GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The lieutenant governor’s race has taken on more importance because of speculation that Sandoval, who is expected to win re-election easily this year, might not serve his entire second, four-year term.

Sandoval has said he has no other plans, but the former federal judge could run against Reid in 2016 or accept another judicial appointment or a Cabinet post, if a Republican wins the presidency in 2016.

But he would want first to ensure he has a Republican lieutenant governor to move up into his job and not a Democrat.

The part-time lieutenant governor’s main duties involve tourism, transportation and economic development, as well as serving as the president of the Nevada Senate when it’s in session every other year. But Flores has made clear from the time she launched her campaign that she planned to delve into other issues, such as education.

Last week, she sent an email to her supporters asking them what the lieutenant governor’s priorities should be. Flores offered seven choices, most beyond the scope of the No. 2 job in Nevada and something, say, a governor might do:

■ Strengthening education from preschool through college

■ Improving the economy and creating jobs

■ Fixing the immigration system

■ Ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare

■ Raising the Nevada minimum wage to $10 an hour

■ Making higher education more affordable

■ Tightening background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill

“I’ve made clear that my focus as lieutenant governor will be to ensure a quality education for every child, a strong economy that benefits every family and a fair shot at the American Dream for all Nevadans,” Flores said. “Together we have an opportunity to make a real difference for all Nevadans, and I want to make certain that I’m addressing the issues you care about in this campaign and in the lieutenant governor’s office.”

— Laura Myers

PIECE OF THE HISPANIC PIE

While Flores surveys campaign issues, state Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, is trying to siphon off some of the Hispanic vote in the Nevada lieutenant governor’s race.

On Thursday, the Las Vegas Colombian and Peruvian Chambers of Commerce endorsed Hutchison, having a news conference at the Mi Peru Restaurant in Henderson.

It’s not that much of a surprise since they are business-friendly groups.

And many Nevada voters of Colombian and Peruvian heritage lean Republican — unlike the far more numerous Mexican-born crowd, which leans Democratic.

“I am so honored to have the endorsement of the Peruvian and Colombian Chambers of Commerce,” Hutchison tweeted along with a photo of him standing between two chamber officials.

— Laura Myers

IMMIGRATION RALLY FOLLOWS BIDEN

Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Nevada last week appeared to go off without a hitch — but not without controversy.

After speaking to the NAACP on Wednesday at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Biden headlined a rally for Democratic congressional candidate Erin Bilbray at the Henderson Convention Center. Bilbray is challenging U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., in the 3rd Congressional District in Clark County, including Henderson and Boulder City.

The Henderson convention site is about a tenth of a mile, or a three-minute walk, from a detention center that’s holding immigrants who are in the country illegally. And progressive protesters, who normally back the Obama administration, gathered outside the Biden-Bilbray rally to make sure the arriving audience knew that fact.

Led by the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, or PLAN, the protesters handed out round stickers for audience members to wear that said, “Stop Separating Families.”

The idea is to maintain pressure on the administration to halt massive deportations — more than 2 million since Obama took office — while Congress is unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The U.S. Senate passed such a bill more than a year ago, but the GOP-controlled House has refused to vote on the matter.

Obama has said if Congress doesn’t act this summer, he would take administrative action himself.

“We just want to remind people the House has given up on immigration reform, but we haven’t,” said Laura Martin, the communications director for PLAN. “We’re going to be at every event just to keep the pressure up.”

Astrid Silva, a PLAN organizer, said her father was once detained at the Henderson detention center, and she was disappointed Biden didn’t spend more time Wednesday promoting immigration reform. His only reference was to note a poll showing Americans support immigration reform: 60 percent of Republicans and 73 percent of Democrats.

“It is both surprising and disappointing that the vice president gave only a few seconds of his time to talk about immigration reform and mentioned absolutely nothing about the administrative relief the Obama administration promised next month,” Silva said in a statement. “We hope that the White House hasn’t given up on keeping families together in the same way the House of Representatives has. We will continue to keep up the pressure until the Obama administration fulfills their promise to end senseless deportations.”

— Laura Myers

HAS HAMBRICK FOUND A SUCCESSOR?

Assistant Clark County Manager Jeff Wells could end up running for a Nevada Assembly seat in the future. But it might be a few years before the poker enthusiast and former Colorado legislator makes his move.

Wells has talked with Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, about possibly succeeding Hambrick when the time comes.

“He and I have had that conversation,” Hambrick said.

Hambrick and Wells have a lot in common. The two serve together on the Commission on Statewide Juvenile Justice Reform. Both are Republicans.

Wells might have to wait a long time before running for Hambrick’s seat, depending on how the political dynamic shakes out. Hambrick, 69, won’t hit term limits until 2020, when the District 2 seat would be open.

Hambrick says Wells would be an ideal successor, noting the assistant county manager is well-prepared for dealing with important issues involving youth, immigration and healthcare.

“He’s got a phenomenal background,” Hambrick said.

Wells oversees county departments that include family services and juvenile justice and also works with elected officials such as the county clerk, recorder and constables.

Wells, who invented the trademarked “Colorado Hold ’Em Poker” game, didn’t show his hand to the Review-Journal.

“I have no current plans to run for any political office,” Wells said via email.

At this stage in the game, serving on the part-time citizen Legislature would be the capstone of Wells’ lengthy career in public service. Wells hasn’t announced any retirement plans yet, though he turns 66 in September.

Wells was in the Colorado Senate for 16 years, starting a 12-year run as the Senate majority leader in 1986. He also did a stint as an administrative law judge in Colorado. Before the county hired him in 2007, Wells was director of the Colorado Department of Labor and the Department of Personnel and Administration.

— Ben Botkin

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1. Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919. Find her on Twitter: @lmyerslvrj.

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