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POLITICAL EYE: GOP lists contenders for 4th Congressional District

It looks like Republicans are going to put up a fight to try to win Nevada’s newest congressional seat in Southern Nevada, although Democrats have a big advantage when it comes to voter registration: 10 percentage points.

Last week, the National Republican Congressional Committee made two moves to demonstrate how interested the GOP is in picking up the 4th Congressional District despite the long odds.

The Republican campaign organization that recruits and promotes strong candidates, listed three GOP contenders for the Nevada seat as House hopefuls to watch. Danny Tarkanian, state Sen. Barbara Cegavske and Las Vegas businessman Dan Schwartz were put "On the Radar," the second step in a four-step process to reach "Young Guns" status to get official NRCC backing.

At the same time, the GOP launched a website — www.thehorsfordrules.com — to attack Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, the only Democratic contender in the race.

The site dubbed "The Horsford Rules" is aimed at pointing out negative stories and incidents involving the lawmaker who also is a Democratic National Committeeman. The first attack noted Horsford was caught in 2009 parking his car in a handicap loading zone for five to six hours.

"Horsford’s Rule 1: ‘I can park wherever I want,’ " the website said.

At the time, local TV stations and newspapers did stories about the incident. Asked about it recently when he announced his campaign, Horsford said it was a mistake he regretted.

Republicans aren’t going to let the public forget about that and other embarrassing moments.

"Horsford is the worst kind of politician, one who operates by his own set of rules even if it means breaking the law or violating ethical standards," said Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for the NRCC. "His entitlement attitude may have Washington Democrats excited, but Nevadans deserve to know his record of continuously living above the law before they give him a promotion."

Horsford’s campaign dismissed the GOP efforts and noted that most political analysts rate the race as "safe" for the Democratic contender, including the Washington publication Roll Call.

National Democrats, in fact, as so confident Horsford will win the seat in 2012 that they’ve asked him to help raise money for other Democrats across the country who are in tighter races.

"Who knows what the NRCC is thinking, but Friday’s Roll Call election preview demonstrates that anyone who understands Nevada politics and the dynamics of this race, think that Steven Horsford is the odds on favorite, because unlike Republicans, Steven is focused on solutions to put more Nevadans back to work and keep our economic recovery moving in the right direction," said Geoff Mackler, Horsford’s campaign manager.

GOP officials and candidates think Republicans could have a shot at winning the district because it’s new and it covers not only parts of more liberal Clark County but also incorporates part of Lyon County and all of more rural and conservative Mineral, Nye, White Pine, Lincoln and Esmeralda counties.

Tarkanian, a Las Vegas businessman, is considered the GOP favorite because of his high name recognition. The former University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball star doesn’t have a good election track record, however, having lost three races, including the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in 2010.

Cegavske, a conservative, is the establishment favorite and has strong GOP backing in the state.

Schwartz is a wealthy businessman, but isn’t very well known in Southern Nevada.

OBAMA’S HEALTH CARE LAW

If you didn’t get enough news last week revolving around the 2nd anniversary of President Barack Obama signing his health care reform into law, you might get your fill this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear three days of oral arguments on the health care law starting Monday and continuing through Wednesday. Network news, cable channels and the local Vegas PBS station plan blanket coverage for news junkies.

Citizens won’t be able to view or even listen to real-time arguments inside the high court because the justices rejected requests to televise the hearings. The Supreme Court instead will make audio tapes available at the conclusion of each day’s arguments and eventually transcripts as well.

Arguments will begin at 10 a.m. on the East Coast (7 a.m. PDT) on Monday and again at 10 a.m. (7 a.m. PDT) Tuesday. On Wednesday, two sessions are scheduled, one at 10 a.m. (7 a.m. PDT) and a final one at 1 p.m. (10 a.m. PDT).

The court is expected to issue a decision by the end of June.

In Southern Nevada, Cox Cable Channel 111 plans a live broadcast during the Supreme Court arguments. In addition, Vegas PBS plans to run the daily recaps on the PBS NewsHour on Channel 10 each of the three nights at 6 p.m., program officials said.

BALLOT NICKNAME BATTLE

Maybe Patrick Henry, who famously said, "Give me liberty, or give me death," was the inspiration for U.S. Senate candidate Ed Hamilton. Or maybe it was GOP presidential contender Ron Paul or the tea party movement, which talks a lot about the Constitution, freedom and liberty.

At any rate, Ed "In Liberty" Hamilton has won his battle with the Nevada secretary of state’s office to use a ballot nickname to run for the Republican Party nomination in the June 12 primary.

Hamilton’s first two tries at picking nicknames were rejected as too political. He had tried "TheRonPawl" in honor of Paul and "WarNoMore" to oppose the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

But Secretary of State Ross Miller said those nicknames violated a 2003 law.

It says: "A nickname must not indicate any political, economic, social or religious view or affiliation and must not be the name of any person, living or dead, whose reputation is known on a statewide, nationwide or worldwide basis, or in any other manner deceive a voter regarding the person or principles for which he or she is voting."

Hamilton, a perennial candidate who has sought office in the past as a Republican and as a Democrat, said he was pleased the government finally allowed him to stand out on the ballot.

"In Liberty is a very, very powerful moniker," Hamilton said. "I think it’s even better than the others."

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

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