WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Dina Titus is touting her success in bringing economic assistance and transportation projects to Southern Nevada in her race for re-election against GOP challenger Mark Robertson, a retired U.S. Army colonel who wants to return fiscal responsibility to Congress.
Libertarian candidate Ken Cavanaugh said less government would provide more personal freedom and liberty.
All three candidates are on the Nov. 8 general election ballot in the newly drawn Congressional District 1, which includes Las Vegas, portions of Henderson and Boulder City.
Voters will have distinct choices in the race with an outcome that could factor into which party controls the U.S. House of Representatives.
Titus, 72, is seeking a seventh term in Congress. Before Congress, she served 20 years in the Nevada state Senate.
She is a House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee chairwoman and House Homeland Security Committee member. She wrote pandemic relief and infrastructure legislation that garnered Republican support for highway, airport, rail and water projects that will pour millions into Nevada.
In her House leadership role, Titus was instrumental in changing federal funding formulas to include the unemployment rate of a state, which brought an additional $1 billion to Nevada in economic aid during a pandemic that killed 1 million Americans, including more than 11,000 people in Nevada.
“We were the hardest hit area with the highest unemployment in the country. And now we’re the fastest recovering,” Titus said, citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
She said federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act helped Nevada businesses, workers and families with loans, unemployment benefits, vaccines and equipment and training for first responders.
“We need to continue in this vein to fully have a sustained recovery,” Titus said.
Her opponents, Robertson and Cavanaugh, have called recent federal spending wasteful and said it resulted in record-breaking inflation.
Robertson, 63, said he has talked to thousands of residents in Southern Nevada, and the No. 1 issue is the economy, and inflation.
“And what got us into inflation was excessive wasteful government spending in the trillions — and then shutting down our economy, shutting the factories and the stores,” Robertson told the Review-Journal.
Robertson, a veteran and former Defense Department senior adviser, is running on his experience as a businessman and financial planner. He gave up his business to run for Congress.
“You stop the excessive wasteful government spending and you stop paying people not to work. They go back to work in our factories, and business owners can find people to hire and produce the goods and services,” said Robertson, who taught business at UNLV.
He dismisses the argument that the Russian war in Ukraine, and its impact on energy supplies, is the cause of skyrocketing inflation. Robertson said the rate of inflation in the United States was at 7.8 percent before the war.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Robertson said the government shut down the economy, then sent money to bail out states and local governments, which now have budget surpluses. Money, he said, also was wastefully given to businesses and workers, some without need.
Stimulus checks sent to government workers, who were never out of work, is an example of wasteful spending, according to Robertson.
“There is not one single employee in the federal government who lost their job or missed a paycheck during the government shutdown, but every single one of them got a stimulus check,” Robertson said.
Cavanaugh, 66, a retired telecommunications worker, also said reversing inflation is necessary to shore up the economy. He agreed that it is the most important issue in the race.
And the only way to reverse inflation, Cavanaugh told the Review-Journal, “is to remove the money that was injected into the economy.”
To do that, he said, “you have to do something that (former President) Bill Clinton did back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to collect taxes, and stop spending it, in this case. You actually have to burn the money.”
“So that’s $5 (trillion), $6 trillion that basically the federal government’s got to collect in taxes and then do nothing with it and destroy it,” Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh first ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2000 as a Libertarian in Pennsylvania. Since then, he has been involved in the Libertarian Party in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Nevada.
The three candidates differ significantly on abortion and the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling to strike down the Roe v. Wade decision that made it a constitutional right.
Robertson said Nevada codified a woman’s right to an abortion in 1990 with a referendum passed overwhelmingly by state voters. “It’s settled law,” he said.
But Titus and other congressional Democrats have warned that Republicans, with control of Congress, could pass a federal ban which would supersede laws in states such as Nevada.
Although some GOP lawmakers have called for passage of a federal ban, it would still face legislative hurdles such as a Senate filibuster and a presidential veto.
“I support the overturning of Roe v. Wade, not just because I’m pro-life, and I am, but because it was the correct legal decision,” Robertson said.
The high court decision rightfully returned the decision on abortion to the states, Robertson said. Democratic positions on the issue, Robertson said, were intended to deflect the party’s dismal economic record.
Titus called the Supreme Court decision “an assault on all women but particularly those living in minority, underserved and impoverished communities.”
“They will be forced to take drastic and unsafe measures to self-manage abortions or carry unwanted pregnancies to term,” she said.
Titus said abortion rights are human rights and the decision “has energized women” voters.
“A lot of young women are now registering and mostly because they realized that something they took for granted before is now at risk,” Titus said.
“People think that they’re protected here with (state law),” Titus said. “The problem is, we’re protected now, but if Republicans take over and pass a national law, that could all go out the window.”
Titus, a former UNLV professor of history, also said that Roe v. Wade was predicated on privacy rights and that the recent Supreme Court decision calls into question protections on contraceptives, same-sex and interracial marriage.
Cavanaugh falls into the Libertarian camp that abortion is a matter of personal conscience and that government should not infringe on personal rights.
Personally, Cavanaugh said, he is “a pro-life Christian.”
Still, Cavanaugh said the Supreme Court made the right decision when it ruled to strike down Roe v. Wade. “The word abortion does not exist in the Constitution; it is not in the Bill of Rights.”
“As a Libertarian, first off, I believe you do what you want to do as a person, which basically equates to if you want to abort your fetus, abort your fetus,” Cavanaugh said, later adding, “Don’t think I’m going to have you over to play bridge with me, but there you go.”
Titus holds a huge fundraising advantage in the race to keep her seat. She has raised $1.7 million and has $1.6 million in cash on hand, according to Federal Election Commission filings in June.
Robertson raised $720,533 and had $201,112 left after a competitive Republican primary, records show. Cavanaugh has not raised or spent any funds for his race.