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PARTY LINES: Where are they now? On the ballot!

Updated March 26, 2022 - 2:50 pm

It’s like stepping back in time to a Nevada of the last decade. There are so many familiar political names on the ballot, it could be a quiz called “where were they then?”

Former Rep. Cresent Hardy is on the ballot for Congress again, this time running in the 1st District. Danny Tarkanian is also on the ballot for Congress again (and again and again), this time in the 2nd District.

Ex-U.S. Sen. Dean Heller is back, running for governor as a Republican. So is former Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins, but as a Democrat.

Ex-state Treasurer Dan Schwartz now wants to be lieutenant governor. Former Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel wants to be state controller.

Ex-Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager is back, seeking a university regent’s seat. Former Assemblywoman Irene Bustamante-Adams is on the ballot, this time challenging incumbent school trustee Danielle Ford.

Perennial candidate and ex-Clark County School District Trustee Kevin Childwho was banned from visiting campuses and accused of sexual harassment during his tenure — is back, too, this time as a candidate for Clark County treasurer.

Ex-Assemblyman, state Sen. and Las Vegas Councilman Bob Beers is back, running for council again, but this time in a different ward. He’s running against former Assemblywoman Francis Allen-Palenske, who took over Beers’ Assembly seat when he won a state Senate race in 2004.

They’re multiplying!: One thing you will definitely see more of on the ballot this year is Libertarians. No, not Republicans who are conservative on fiscal issues but liberal on social ones. We’re talking actual capital-L Libertarians. It turns out, with 25 total candidates up and down the ballot, there are more Libertarians running in Nevada than at any time in the past 40 years.

“We’ve been dedicated to recruiting and training candidates over the past year, a strategic effort to get Libertarians elected,” said Brandon Davis, the Libertarian Party of Nevada’s elections committee director. “It’s blatantly apparent that a majority of people in Nevada feel ‘politically homeless.’ We believe the Libertarian Party is that home, they just don’t yet know it.”

Libertarians hit a high-water mark nationally in 2016, when former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and his running mate, ex-Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, earned a total of nearly 4.5 million votes nationwide. The party’s national standard bearer has broken the 1 million vote threshold just three times since 1972.

Autopilot endorsements: Teddy Roosevelt may have been a conservationist and a Republican, but times have changed. So when the Nevada Conservation League announced its “automatic” endorsements of state lawmakers who’ve earned 90 percent or better scores on the league’s biennial legislative scorecard, it’s no surprise to see all of the endorsees are Democrats.

In fact, maybe the surprise is there weren’t more Democrats on the list.

But state Sens. Marilyn Dondero Loop, Melanie Scheible and James Ohrenschall, all D-Las Vegas, and Assembly members Selena Torres, Brittney Miller, Steve Yeager, Rochelle Nguyen, Bea Duran, Howard Watts, Shannon Bilbray-Axelrod, Michelle Gorelow and Sandy Jauregui, all D-Las Vegas, Daniele Monroe-Moreno, D-North Las Vegas, Lesley Cohen, D-Henderson and Sarah Peters, D-Reno, can still tout their environmental bona fides.

Speaking of endorsements: State Sen. Pat Spearman — who is running for North Las Vegas mayor — set a new standard when she sent out a news release indicating she was “Highly and Heavily Endorsed.” What occasioned this next-level backing? Support from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 357 and the Nevada branch of the National Organization for Women. Henceforth, endorsements in Nevada will be ranked like this: regular endorsements, automatic endorsements, and High and Heavy Endorsements, which exceed even former President Donald Trump’s “Complete and Total” endorsements.

Fiore, whatever!: Republican Manny Kess had a pretty sweet deal going: He was the lone Republican in the race for state treasurer all the way up until the penultimate day of filing, when Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore abandoned her race for governor and jumped into the treasurer’s contest, wherein she immediately became the front-runner. Name recognition alone gives Fiore a better than even chance of winning the party’s nomination.

So Kess did the best he could, putting out a release in which he touted his endorsements (just regular ones, neither high nor heavy, apparently) from other Republicans, those he clearly hopes will dim Fiore’s outsize personality. On his list: Ex-Gov. Bob List, ex-Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, ex-Attorney General Adam Laxalt, ex-Rep. Cresent Hardy, state Sen. Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas, Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill, R-Carson City, and Las Vegas Council members Stavros Anthony and Victoria Seaman.

That last one is especially good, since Fiore and Seaman allegedly got into a physical altercation at City Hall, video of which was later deleted despite the fact that the Las Vegas Review-Journal had repeatedly asked for it under state public records laws. Fiore and Seaman, former friends, are now quite antagonistic.

Point of personal privilege: When I was a much younger reporter for the now-defunct Sacramento Union, one of my beats was covering the area’s congressional delegation. One of its Democratic members, Rep. Vic Fazio of Sacramento, was so angered by the newspaper’s conservative editorials and previous coverage that he refused to even speak to the paper any longer.

It’s a tactic not uncommon in politics, especially with hometown newspapers, although it’s often a self-defeating strategy that denies the offended pol access to readers and free media.

Determined to change his mind, I consistently called Fazio’s office for comment on any relevant story, asking repeatedly and unsuccessfully for an interview with the congressman. I managed to wring a few statements out of his staff, but not much more.

One day, I learned Fazio was hosting an event outside Sacramento, so I jumped in the car and headed there in person. When the event ended, I waited to speak to the congressman, expecting once more to be rebuffed.

But this time, Fazio looked at me and said, “You know, my staff tells me that you’ve been very fair in your stories, so I’ll speak with you.” I counted it as a major victory, and an important lesson for a young reporter: Your work and sincere efforts to be fair speak volumes.

After that, Fazio and I had a professional working relationship, though I can’t say he ever subscribed to the Union.

Victor Herbert Fazio died March 16 at his home in Arlington, Virginia, of cancer. He was 79. RIP, congressman.

This story has been edited to better describe a physical altercation between Las Vegas Councilwomen Michele Fiore and Victoria Seaman.

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

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