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PARTY LINES: Susie Lee sees congressional race tighten; Laxalt’s friends visit

No more leaning.

That’s the verdict from Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball rating, which tracks races across the country and tries to make predictions about who will win. On Wednesday, the Crystal Ball team updated the status in 11 races, and made changes favorable to Republicans in all.

That includes Democratic Rep. Susie Lee’s Congressional District 3, which up until then had been rated “leans Democratic.” After the change, however, it’s now rated as a “toss-up.”

Frankly, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise: The district has gone back and forth between the two parties since it was created way back in 2001. Former Republican Rep. Jon Porter held the seat from 2002 until 2008, when he was unseated by Democrat Dina Titus, who herself was turned out two years later in a super-close election by Republican Joe Heck. Heck left the seat in 2016 to run for U.S. Senate, when Democrat Jacky Rosen took over. Lee inherited the seat in 2018 and has successfully defended it since.

The 2021 Legislature made the district slightly more competitive when it drew new district lines. Although the total Democratic advantage in actual active voters is still roughly the same, Republicans have fallen from 28 percent to 27 percent of the district’s registration, while nonpartisans have gained a percentage point and Democrats have remained steady at 34 percent.

Nevada Democratic Victory spokeswoman Mallory Payne said the campaign was always prepared for a tough race.

“Nevada remains a competitive battleground state and we know races here are won by a field margin,” Payne said. “That’s why we started earlier than ever before building a team to execute a strong ground game to win up and down the ballot in November.”

Surprise endorsement

The Vegas Chamber is one of the most establishment voices in Nevada politics, and is generally known for making careful choices in candidate endorsements. But the group announced on Tuesday that it was backing the non-establishment pick in the race for Clark County sheriff, Assemblyman Tom Roberts.

“The Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee based its recommendation on Tom Roberts’ exemplary career in public service in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Nevada Legislature, and the United States Air Force,” the group said in a statement. “He has an outstanding track record of working in a broad-based capacity to build consensus. As a legislator, he recognized the valuable role businesses play in the community, especially in creating jobs and cultivating growth and prosperity.”

Left unmentioned was the establishment’s pick, former Metro Undersheriff Keven McMahill, whose anointment to be the next top uniformed cop in town has been sullied by old allegations of abuse of a suspect in a decades-old incident, one in which he was recommended for termination after failing a polygraph examination. McMahill was never fired, however, and rose to hold every rank in the department, including its No. 2 slot. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.

With friends like these

U.S. Senate candidate Adam Laxalt clearly has friends in all the right places in the modern Republican Party. Not only does he have the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, he’s also getting some high-profile surrogate visits from top name GOP stars.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, is visiting Las Vegas Friday on behalf of Laxalt, who if successful in June will go on to challenge Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez Masto in November. According to a news release, the Cruz visit was scheduled for the ballroom at the Sun City Anthem Center in Henderson to discuss “energy and affordability issues.”

But wait, there’s more: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will take a break from his ongoing fight with the Disney corporation over an education policy bill in the Sunshine State to visit Nevada the week of April 24 to campaign with Laxalt at a Rise Up rally in Las Vegas. The pair know each other well; they were roommates at Naval Justice School in Rhode Island and served together in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps.

“Adam Laxalt understands as well as anybody how important it is for real conservative fighters to stand up against the corporate, legacy media and the insidious, woke cancel culture – whether it comes from corporate board rooms, university faculty lounges, Hollywood or Big Tech authoritarians,” DeSantis said in a statement released by the Laxalt campaign.

So far, Cortez Masto hasn’t announced any surrogate visits of her own. She’s personal friends with President Joe Biden, but given Biden’s most recent poll numbers (41 percent approval to 52 percent disapproval in the latest Real Clear Politics average) and the fact that she recently came out against his plans to repeal Trump-era border policy, that visit might be a little bit awkward.

But Cortez Masto did land an important endorsement this week: The AAPI Victory Fund backed the senator, with the group’s president Brad Jenkins saying in a statement that her “strong support of Nevada’s AAPI, immigrant, and working-class communities closely aligns with AAPI Victory Fund’s mission to mobilize AAPI voters to the ballot box and, in a state in which the AAPI community is growing the fastest, we are fortunate to call Sen. Cortez Masto an ally.”

What’s in a name?

Ballot nicknames are fairly common in Nevada, although there are rules about what you can or cannot call yourself on official election materials. Those rules, however, didn’t stop U.S. Sen. Harry Reid from running against – and beating! – someone who nicknamed himself “God Almighty.”

But one of the most frequent practitioners of ballot nicknames is perennial candidate Eddie Hamilton, who has run in virtually every election since 2006. And Hamilton is not one to stick with a single moniker, either.

He started running for Senate as a Republican by calling himself Edward “Fast Eddie” Hamilton. Edward “Mr. Clean” Hamilton ran for Congressional District 1 in 2008 and in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in 2010. Edward “Toughguy” Hamilton showed up running for Henderson City Council Ward 1 in 2011.

Hamilton’s most enduring nickname – Eddie “In Liberty” Hamilton – was his preferred name in the 2012 U.S. Senate Republican primary, the 2013 Henderson mayoral contest and the 2014 Republican governor’s race. He switched to Eddie “Eduardo” Hamilton in 2015 in Henderson’s Ward 1, and hit his highest percentage ever: 26.34 percent of the vote.

He ran without a nickname in the 2016 Republican U.S. Senate primary, before switching to Eddie “Swamper” Hamilton in the 2017 race for Henderson mayor. After being denied the nickname “Mr. MAGA” in 2018, he ran as Eddie “Mister Mago” Hamilton in the 2018 Republican primary for Congressional District 2.

Eddie “FIGHTER” Hamilton lost the Henderson Ward 1 primary in 2019. And he risked copyright violations by using Eddie “Mr.LasVegas” Hamilton in 2020’s Congressional District 1 Republican primary.

This year? Eddie “Mr. Fix It Now” Hamilton is on your Republican primary ballot for governor, although on Twitter he uses the slightly longer “your would be the first ever Nevada lawfully elected constitutional People’s Militia Governor EDDIE “MrMAGA” HAMILTON (R-NV).”

Nice. But it’s no God Almighty.

Fact check says true, but —

Gov. Steve Sisolak took to Twitter on Monday to boast about his administration’s record on taxes. “It’s Tax Day, so thought it was a good time to remind you: Since I’ve been governor, we haven’t raised one penny of new taxes on the people of Nevada. Not. One. Penny.”

And while that is a true statement, it almost wasn’t. In fact, Sisolak did sign bills that, while not raising taxes, would have prevented a scheduled decrease in the state’s payroll tax and a DMV technology fee. And while the Nevada Legislature argued forcefully before the Nevada Supreme Court that extending taxes at current levels doesn’t count as a tax increase, justices unanimously rejected that argument and voided those bills.

“Based on the plain language of the supermajority provision, we conclude that it applies to the subject bills because they create, generate or increase public revenue,” the unanimous ruling read. “Because the bills did not pass by a two-thirds majority in the Senate, those portions of the bills that would require a supermajority vote (to raise taxes) are unconstitutional.”

So, Sisolak can say nobody’s taxes were increased. But we have the Supreme Court to thank for that.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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