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Win or lose, our politicians are thankful

The day before the election, Chris Giunchigliani’s English bulldog, Kennedy, disappeared.

So the Clark County commissioner went door to door, knocking for days at the same homes she had visited while campaigning for re-election. She and a dozen people dropped lost dog leaflets, too.

"Some people said, ‘I just voted for you. What are you doing here?’ " Giunchigliani recalled, saying her eastside community then quickly jumped in to help. "There was a neighborliness."

Five days after she won the Nov. 2 election, Giunchigliani was reunited with Kennedy, thanks to a man who had found the 8-year-old male dog in a park eight blocks from home. It was "the opposite side of the world for him," she said. "He’d never been there before or even outside the yard without a leash."

"So that’s what I’m thankful for, getting him back," said Giunchigliani, a Democrat whose other bulldog is named Hillary, for Hillary Clinton.

As Nevadans celebrate Thanksgiving, candidates such as Giunchigliani said they had something special they were thankful for. Most were grateful, win or lose, that the 2010 election was over after an exhausting campaign. They also expressed thanks for family and friends and — mostly for the losers — the first free time they’d had in more than a year to "just breathe," as Rory Reid said.

"It’s great to take a deep breath — and play Scrabble," Reid said with a laugh, adding he can’t seem to win the word game. "My wife has beaten me every time we’ve played."

Here’s a look at what some 2010 election players said they’re thankful for:

RORY REID departing Clark County Commission chairman. The Democrat lost the governor’s race to Republican Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge.

"I’m thankful for the fact that I have time to spend with my family," said Reid, whose two college-age daughters were home for Thanksgiving with his teen-age son and wife. "It’s been a busy couple of years for us. It’s nice to be able to sit around and watch each other talk."

Besides playing Scrabble and eating turkey, Reid said he’s looking forward to morning walks with his wife along Pittman Wash with trails that snake through suburban Henderson, where he lives.

"Because of the nature of the campaign, I haven’t relaxed. I’ve forgotten how enjoyable it is," said Reid, a lawyer in a major legal firm.

"I’m looking forward to going on long walks with my wife."

As for the future, Reid said, "I’m grateful that I’ve had all the opportunities that I’ve had in my life. I’ve absolutely no idea what the future holds for me or my family, but I know it will involve public service of some sort. I enjoy problem-solving. There are a lot of ways to give back to the community."

DINA TITUS the freshman House Democrat who narrowly lost re-election.

Titus has been staying busy, finishing up legislative business in the lame-duck congressional session and opening her district office to serve as a drop-off point for canned goods for the poor.

"During this tough economic time, it is more important than ever that we open our hearts to help the more than 250,000 men, women and children who are struggling with hunger in our community," Titus wrote in a holiday e-mail to her supporters, who she may count on again to run for future office.

Asked what she’s most grateful for, Titus said in an e-mail reply, "I am thankful for the many people across Southern Nevada that I can count as dear friends."

JOE HECK the Republican who won Titus’ Congressional District 3 seat.

Heck hasn’t slowed down since Election Day. He spent the past week in Washington for orientation and doesn’t expect a break until around Christmas before he’s sworn in on Jan. 5.

The day before Thanksgiving, the physician and his wife were scouting out potential congressional office space in his district before she went off shopping for traditional turkey and fixings.

"I’m thankful for my family and the support they have always given me in my endeavors, as overtaxing and crazy as they can be at times," Heck said of his wife, two daughters and son. "And I’m thankful for the volunteers who helped in my campaign. … I’ve got a lot to be thankful for this year.

He’s also thankful that his father survived "a health scare" this year. One of his daughters is out of work, but the other recently found a job after she graduated from college.

"There was no down time for me, unfortunately," he said. "But I’m thankful for every day."

SEN. HARRY REID the Democratic head of the Senate who won a fifth term.

Reid is spending the holidays in the Washington, D.C., area with his wife, Landra, and most of his five children. His oldest son, Rory, stayed with his family in Henderson.

As Senate leader, Reid has been busy running the lame-duck session and reorganizing his party leaders and his own office as he prepares to deal with a slimmer Senate majority and a House that will be newly led by the Republican Party.

"I am thankful that I’ll be able to spend Thanksgiving with my children and grandchildren," Sen. Reid said in a statement when asked what he’s grateful for this year. "I am also thankful that my fellow Nevadans have given me the honor of representing them for another six years."

SHARRON ANGLE the Tea Party-backed Republican who lost to Harry Reid.

Angle has stayed active behind the scenes since her loss, attending at least two GOP organizing meetings, one in Las Vegas and one in Fallon, where she said she might run for public office again.

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the former Reno assemblywoman reached out to her thousands of mostly conservative supporters via her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"I hope God blesses you all with a very happy and safe Thanksgiving. May it be filled with great moments, great food and great joy with those you love most!" she wrote at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, but she didn’t say what she’s most thankful for this year.

SHELLEY BERKLEY the popular congresswoman re-elected to a seventh term.

At the Berkley household, Thanksgiving is a major annual production, lasting several days and involving erection of a tent in her backyard to accommodate 50 family guests.

"The tent is going up now," Berkley said before running out to buy cupcakes Wednesday.

Early arrivals, including relatives from California, gathered the night before Thanksgiving to eat dinner at Buca di Beppo, an Italian restaurant that serves family-style, seating "from 2 to 200."

Thanksgiving morning will start by helping feed the homeless at Catholic Charities, Berkley said, before the family gathers later for a traditional holiday meal, catered under the tent.

On Friday, the clan plans to go shopping and stop at Sears for a traditional family photo, this year using a 20 percent discount coupon clipped from the newspaper, she said.

The same day, Berkley and her family also will visit the grave of her mother at Palm Mortuary.

"We do the same thing every year," Berkley said. "There are so many things that I am grateful for. One is having the most loving, supportive family that any human being could possibly wish for — and the fact that we’re all healthy and happy, and full of energy and full of lust for life."

There’s only one thing that would make Berkley happier, she said, as Nevada suffers the worst economic downturn since the Depression, with one in five people out of work and many losing homes.

"When the economy improves in Las Vegas and people get back to work, that’s the thing I will be very thankful for in the future," she said.

"I’m very mindful that while my family is doing well, there are a lot of families that are really hurting. There are certain times of the year when you see it the most."

Contact Laura Myers at lmyers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2919.

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