Porter still ready to rock

Rock ‘n’ roll bands break up for any number of reasons. Death. Drugs. Ego. Yoko.

But perhaps never before because the drummer was running for governor.

The Second Amendments, the band formed by five members of Congress with Nevadan Jon Porter on the keyboards, are at a crossroads.

Drummer Kenny Hulshof, a Republican, is leaving the House to run for governor of Missouri. Dave Weldon, R-Fla., is retiring.

The musical politicians, who play baby boomer rock, have performed for U.S. troops in Kuwait and Iraq. They played at a charity event in Las Vegas last August.

The band will stay active until November while trying to recruit replacements, Porter’s office said. They have approached Republican Bill Sali of Idaho, who played drums for a classic rock band in law school.

They also are talking to John Hall, D-N.Y., a guitarist and singer-songwriter best known as the co-founder of Orleans, which had the mid-’70s hits "Still the One" and "Dance with Me."

No word on Porter going solo.

The Second Amendments were formed out of the ruins of an earlier congressional rock effort, the Amendments. While the First and Second Amendments to the Constitution are well known and the subject of great enthusiasm, the Third Amendment isn’t necessarily the kind of provision you rock out to: It’s the one that prohibits the government from quartering soldiers in people’s homes.

Porter also plays with a band of buddies from his hometown of Humboldt, Iowa. Called the Lazy River Band, they recently recorded a ballad based on a poem by a military mechanic that Porter brought back from a trip to Iraq.

The single is for sale online, with proceeds benefiting the Armed Forces Foundation. Other members of the band include a scientist and a professional drummer.

Porter plans to bring the band to Las Vegas next month for a campaign fundraiser. And, according to the band’s Web site, it "will be rockin’ Dakota City again on July 19," playing a gig at the VFW hall on Main Street.

EARLY BIRD

The Republican National Committee last week took a step toward making it official for the upstart Nevada caucus.

The RNC’s Rules Committee recommended that Nevada, along with Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, continue to hold an early nominating contest in future presidential elections.

The committee’s proposed plan to overhaul the mixed-up primary system would have a cluster of small states hold contests after the early four, with the rest of the states grouped into rotating clusters.

Although not a final decision, it was a victory for the ragtag group of grass-roots activists that moved up Nevada’s Republican contest to match the Democratic National Committee’s move putting Nevada into that party’s prestigious early-state mix.

"It’s an important step in making sure Nevada’s carved out in the primary schedule," said Zac Moyle, the Nevada Republican Party’s executive director. "We’re thrilled with the potential to continue to be an early state. If this rule goes through, the bottom line is it’s going to put us and the entire intermountain West on the map."

The Republicans would have had a party convention sometime in May had they not decided to hold Jan. 19 precinct caucuses because the Democrats were doing it. GOP members were worried that the Democrats would gain an insurmountable edge in organization if their caucuses were the only game in town.

As it turned out, the Democratic candidates competed hard in Nevada, putting together large staffs and volunteer efforts, while the Republican candidates mostly ignored the state for a variety of reasons, not least that the South Carolina Republican primary was on Jan. 19. The South Carolina Democratic primary was a week later.

The Democratic caucuses drew 117,000 participants statewide and helped the party carve out a voter registration advantage that now stands at more than 40,000. The Republican caucuses drew 44,000 people, which the party said was better than nothing.

The Republicans may have followed the Democrats in moving up their contest, but now Nevada Democrats are hoping their party follows the GOP’s lead.

Travis Brock, executive director of the Nevada Democratic Party, hopes the DNC, when it goes back to looking at the primary system — not its first priority right now, given the circumstances — will keep in mind the priority the other side is putting on Nevada.

"We think it’s a good sign for Nevada that the Republican Rules Committee voted to keep Nevada in the early window," Brock said. "We think that this puts us in a good position, combined with the strong turnout in the caucus and the gains we’ve made in voter registration."

Republicans approve their rules for the next four years at their national convention, while the DNC’s Rules and Bylaws Committee will likely take up the issue after the election and revisit it in the coming years. The Democrats’ 2008 rules weren’t finalized until late 2007.

"One of the things that we proved in the January 19 caucus was that Nevada Democrats want to participate in the process," Brock said. "We were the first test in the West, and we want to continue to be the first test in the West."

Republicans hope for the same thing, but they also hope that it doesn’t matter for quite some time, Moyle said.

"Hopefully we don’t have to do this for 16 more years," he said, meaning a Republican is elected and re-elected and his vice president does the same.

"If we do it again in 2012, it means we didn’t do our job in 2008," he said.

COPENING MECHANISM

State Senate candidate Allison Copening has stepped down from her full-time job at the Las Vegas Valley Water District and is campaigning full-time, she said last week.

Copening, a Democrat who did public relations for the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, is running against state Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas, in District 6. Her race could be one of the hottest of the election cycle as Democrats seek to turn the balance of the state Senate, currently 11-10 Republican.

In 2006, the district had 4 percent more registered Republican voters than Democrats. Now, Democrats have a slight edge, less than 1 percent.

At this early stage, Copening is enjoying the campaign.

"This is my first bid for public office," she said. "It’s exciting to talk to people about what’s on their minds. It’s definitely going to be a lot of work and there’s a lot to do, but it’s fun so far."

Copening continues to work for the water authority on a contract basis. She says she needed flexibility with her time but will probably do about as much work as she did before to keep up her income.

Copening previously said she was leaving her job to avoid conflicts. She said last week that she doesn’t think there’s an inherent conflict in public employees running for office; the conflict she wanted to avoid was making sure she wasn’t using state time or resources for her campaign.

"Working for the district itself was not a conflict, but doing this will take time, inevitably," she said. "I don’t want to be doing campaign work on the water district’s dime."

Contact reporter Molly Ball at mball @reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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