weather icon Clear

Danny Tarkanian talks 2018 candidacy with RJ reader panel

Congressional candidate Danny Tarkanian surprised the Review-Journal’s reader panel by stopping by its meeting Wednesday and fielding questions for more than an hour.

The panel, composed of a dozen voters from various backgrounds, age groups, occupations and political parties, met for a third time to discuss election issues. The newspaper invited 10 candidates to speak with the panelists, but Tarkanian, a Republican businessman, was the only candidate who showed up.

His Democratic opponent in the 3rd Congressional District race, nonprofit leader Susie Lee, canceled her appearance, citing a scheduling conflict.

Tarkanian told the panelists he supports President Donald Trump’s “America-first policies” including the president’s stances on repealing the Affordable Care Act, national security, tax reform, immigration and border security.

Republican Howard Galin — who voted for Tarkanian when he ran for the CD3 seat in 2016 — asked about ending “sanctuary cities.” Tarkanian said he would vote to defund them.

“I believe the vast majority of Americans believe we should have a secure border,” Tarkanian said. “Whether that’s a wall or some other type of technology, who in their right mind thinks we should have an open border and allow anybody to cross over that wants to and any type of contraband to cross over?”

While he supports beefing up border security, Tarkanian said he is not anti-immigrant: His grandmother escaped the Armenian genocide in 1917. “She took advantage of the American dream, worked her tail off and created an opportunity for her son to become the greatest basketball coach in NCAA history,” he said.

Tarkanian was quick to draw a line between Trump’s policies and his sharp tongue, saying he doesn’t support the president’s offensive comments and tweets.

Democrat Ann Cribari said that “words matter” and the president’s rhetoric troubles her.

“I care about the soul of this country,” she said. “And the soul of this country is defined by the words that are coming out of the president of the United States’ mouth and they’re horrible, despicable and divisive.”

Tarkanian said he is “not going to defend that rhetoric.”

“I don’t blame it all on President Trump,” Tarkanian said. “I think this is a process that been going on for years. I think President Trump has taken it to a new level.”

Rebecca Garcia, an independent who’s most concerned about the state’s education system, grilled Tarkanian over his support of school choice, saying it’s unfair to fund private schools with government money while public schools are underfunded.

Tarkanian said his kids have attended public and private schools, and the public schools were “failing them.” He said the most voters he met in minority communities want school choice. “Why should they be denied that?” he asked.

Airline pilot Will Bradley, a Republican who served 32 years in the Army, praised the GOP tax plan and said his company has increased his pay 15 percent. He pleaded with Tarkanian to “force Congress to declare war” before soldiers are sent to combat.

“I saw a lot of guys die for nothing,” Bradley said. “Please, before you send any of my buddies to combat in the future, force Congress to declare war. Because that forces this whole country to get behind it and members of Congress can’t willy out. You’re either all in or we’re not.”

Retired newspaper reporter Louis Filardo, a nonpartisan, asked Tarkanian — who has run for office in every even year since 2004 — about his record of unsuccessfully running for office. Tarkanian said that he lost the 2016 election by 1 percentage point, and he is confident he can win this year.

“Thank goodness Abraham Lincoln didn’t quit: He ran eight times before he got elected to anything. I see your persistence as a virtue, sir, not a detriment,” Bradley said.

Contact Ramona Giwargis at rgiwargis@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
RJ Politics Podcast with Deval Patrick - VIDEO
2020 Presidential Candidate Deval Patrick joins hosts Rory Appleton and Steve Sebelius on the RJ Politics Podcast.
Tom Steyer on Donald Trump and the economy - Video
Tom Steyer joins the RJ Politics podcast to talk about his campaign presence in Nevada and how he plans to take Trump on when talking about the economy. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas City Council Votes On Homeless Ordinance - Video
The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday will discuss expanding on a controversial camping and sleeping ban aimed at deterring the homeless from bivouacking on city streets to include hours when public sidewalks are being cleaned.
Biden meets with Vegas Latino community - VIDEO
Presidential candidate Joe Biden met with members of the Latino community at Rancho High School. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Henderson, other Nevada cities consent to refugee resettlement - VIDEO
Henderson will continue to welcome refugees for resettlement, according to a December letter from Mayor Debra March. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg Speaks At Black Empowerment Event - Video
Pete Buttigieg speaks at a black empowerment event to talk about his Douglass plan.
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Teachers union files initiative to raise Nevada’s gaming tax

An initiative to raise the top tier of the Nevada gaming tax, sponsored by the Clark County Education Association, would raise an estimated $315 million per year.