Political Eye: Players already lining up for Nevada’s next election

It’s never too early to start thinking about the next political campaign.

Whether it’s a local, state or federal office, the election jockeying has already begun.

Not too long after U.S. Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., was sworn in for his second term, a possible Democratic contender popped up with enough strong family and political ties to give him a tough race.

Erin Bilbray-Kohn, who is Nevada’s national Democratic committeewoman, said last week she’s considering running for the 3rd Congressional District in 2014 when Heck will be up for re-election.

Bilbray-Kohn is the daughter of Jim Bilbray, a Democrat who represented Nevada in Congress from 1987 through 1994, when he lost re-election to a Republican during a GOP wave .

She’s also a political consultant who ran Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto’s successful re-election campaign in 2010. And Bilbray-Kohn is the executive director of Emerge Nevada, an organization that trains Democratic women to run for political office and boasts a high success rate.

Bilbray-Kohn plans to discuss her potential congressional bid with top Democratic Party officials in Washington, D.C., when she travels this week to the nation’s capital for President Barack Obama’s inauguration. She helped Obama’s re-election effort in Nevada, starring with her two daughters in a campaign video.

Asked how serious she is about running, Bilbray-Kohn, said, "As I told my Emerge class Saturday, ‘If you want to change the world you have to do it yourself.’ "

Cortez Masto is still being talked about as a potential Democratic candidate for governor, but she hasn’t committed to anything yet, according to people close to her. As a Latina politician, she would be a formidable foe for Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s first Hispanic governor, who’s running for re-election in 2014.

Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, is keeping his gubernatorial options open, too. Last week, he was picked as the new chairman of the commission, giving him a more powerful perch. He’s expected to have plenty of money left from his 2012 re-election to kick-start any state office run.

County Commissioner Tom Collins, who had been vying to win the chair job, told his Democratic supporters that he’s now considering running for lieutenant governor in 2014.

That could be a race to watch. Competitive primaries are expected on both the Democratic and Republican sides with the seat wide open since Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki is termed out and cannot run for re-election. If Sandoval wins re-election and doesn’t complete his term – if he runs for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and wins for example – the lieutenant governor would move up to run the state and be in the pole position to win the top job in 2018.

On the Republican side, potential lieutenant governor candidates include state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, who is finishing her last Senate term, and former state Sen. Sue Lowden. Cegavske has said she is also considering running for secretary of state. Lowden hasn’t mentioned any specific state office but said last week that she is considering running for one of the open top spots, although not for governor.

Secretary of State Ross Miller, whose father Bob Miller was Nevada’s longest serving governor with 10 years service, has his eye firmly on the attorney general’s job with Cortez Masto term-limited. He sees it as a steppingstone to the governor’s office one day, according to his advisers.

Miller raised at least $100,000 at a campaign fundraiser last week at the MGM, his political adviser said.

At the local level, city council races for 2013 are just getting warmed up.

Former state Sen. John Lee, D-North Las Vegas, announced last week he would run for mayor. Republican Mayor Shari Buck is expected to file to run for re-election by the end of the month.

The filing period runs from Jan. 22 through Feb. 1. The primary election will be April 2 and the general June 4.

Two other North Las Vegas City County seats are up for grabs, too: Ward 1 and Ward 3.

Ward 1 Councilman Robert Eliason reached his term limit by serving the maximum of three terms (12 years).

Isaac Barron, a Rancho High School teacher, announced last week that he plans to run for the Ward 1 seat. Incumbent Ward 3 Councilwoman Anita Wood is expected to seek re-election.

In Las Vegas, City Councilman Steve Ross, a Democrat, will face a challenge for his Ward 6 seat from Suzette LaGrange, a conservative Republican. LaGrange last year tried and failed to get enough signatures to challenge Ross in a forced recall election. Ross defeated Planning Commissioner Byron Goynes in the recall.

Today , Henderson Mayor Andy Hafen plans to announce he’ll seek a second term.

– Laura Myers

VEGAS TALK: JUMBLING ALONG

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman caught the audience off guard during her State of the City address Thursday when she whipped two baby dolls from behind the lectern and brandished one in each hand.

The dolls, along with some statuettes, bobblehead figurines and a kitchen timer all served as props to highlight jokes and anecdotes.

More dizzying than Goodman’s array of visual aids, however, were some of the sentences in her speech.

Goodman, who used notes and spoke for an hour, filled much of the time with confusing word jumbles the people of Las Vegas may never completely understand.

Here are some excerpts for anyone who wants to give it a shot.

On the cultural popularity of Las Vegas: "We are Las Vegas, Nev., and everybody would like to attach our name to that."

Describing the purpose of the speech, "This is the state of the city. It really is the state of celebration for 2012, for all the little domino effect that is happening time after time it is because what was planted before to make this time realized."

Winding up to a portion celebrating city neighborhoods, "We have made it possible right here in our city for each of us here who live here to choose from a variety of how and where we want to live."

On the environment, "We do this all the while because we have great people with us preserving our environment. Going green and being innovatively sustainable. You should be seeing slides that show you bike paths and green and everything and that is what we have done this year is trying to show you these pieces. We are continuing to show national leadership and being at the forefront of our innovative efforts for sustainability, which prompts us to move cutting edge green action forward."

On contentious "fiscal cliff" and debt ceiling debates in Congress, "As you know we are very affected by this. And we all know that with the gridlock that has already come we know about taxation, but we don’t know what is going to happen as they pay down the trillions as that comes to be."

Some advice for state lawmakers preparing for the upcoming legislative session, "As our own Legislature goes to the meeting this is all about parties working together and really being Nevadans for Nevada first."

And an update on the city’s efforts to encourage television and film production, "We are about continued development in pursuit as we go forward in this year in the TV and film area."

The most perplexing question of the entire affair, however, came not from the microphone at the front of the room but a flustered journalist near the back who asked a colleague, "How am I going to write this?"

– Benjamin Spillman

Contact reporter Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal .com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter. Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

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