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Democrats should watch out for McCain

For about a year, political pundits set up Rudy Giuliani as the de facto Republican nominee for president. The former New York City mayor was seen by many as the likely party standard bearer largely because of his reaction to the events of Sept. 11 in his city and the fact that he was a moderate.

Of course, this logic defied a Republican primary process that is never kind to pro-choice candidates who favor gay rights.

Today, as Florida Republicans vote in the last contest before Super Tuesday, it appears America’s Mayor may need a new schtick. The Giuliani strategy appeared to have him ignore the first contests, focusing all resources on courting former New Yorkers in South Florida.

It’s telling that Giuliani is trailing in the polls in his own home state of New York, in the run-up to the Feb. 5 primary there. Badly.

The 180-degree turn by Republicans over the past eight months has been remarkable to watch, as the written-off John McCain has emerged as a front-runner who, with a little sunshine today, could win it all.

It used to be post-swift boated Democrats who worried about facing Giuliani and the spectre of terrorism.

Giuliani’s inability to even place third (as of yet) may have been comforting, but Nevada Democrats may be overlooking the same candidate here that Republicans did.

John McCain is looming as a formidable candidate to secure the GOP nomination, and with it, the potential to hammer whichever Democrat emerges — change or experience. Now that the economy, not Iraq, is the top issue, Democrats could be facing a GOP nominee with fiscal conservative bona fides. Who cares if he supports the war?

And in Nevada, where Hispanics came out in huge numbers for Hillary Clinton, will they stay by her side if McCain, who favors immigration reform, is on the general election ballot?

The results today in Florida, where McCain has big endorsements and support from veterans and Cubans, could actually create a true front-runner for the GOP nomination.

It’s too bad for Nevada Democrats that the “early states pledge” is a thing of the past.

Back when Nevada was fighting for caucus relevancy, it joined with the other three early states to make Democratic candidates sign a pledge not to campaign in any state that moved up its primary against party rules.

The candidates all signed pledges not to campaign in Michigan and Florida. (Of course Hillary Clinton stayed on the ballot in Michigan, highlighting her classic propensity to have every issue both ways.)

But Florida, at least on the Democratic side, was relegated to also-ran status. Today’s GOP results in Florida will count — and may just count out the Democratic nominee.

— — —

Clark County District Judge Lee Gates might have to attend an ethics course.

An ethical Gates? Is that an oxymoron?

The issue with the judge involves improper campaign contributions.

Under the proposal, Judge Gates would have to apologize and acknowledge the donations were wrong. And he would have to pay for and attend a course in ethical issues in the law offered by the National Judicial College.

Now if we could only get his wife, former Clark County Commissioner Yvonne Atkinson Gates, to fess up to anything. There’s plenty to choose from among airport concession contracts, her development company and whether she paid her son from her campaign funds.

— — —

Gov. Jim Gibbons was in Las Vegas on Monday to learn just how to trick media into taking the bait.

The governor “toured” the Vehicle Investigations Project for Enforcement and Recovery (VIPER) bait car program to combat car theft.

After the tour, his staff issued a news release announcing the formation of the auto theft and insurance fraud task force (to be named later).

Maybe the real reason he toured the bait car division was for inspiration.

Just how, he might have wondered, could he do something to lure media to him without having reporters ask about the budget cuts?

Create a task force, that’s how. But don’t be too hasty — don’t give it any members yet. There’s bound to be a few campaign or legal defense fund contributors he can appoint.

Now if only he had established a task force (say of key legislators, budget analysts, school officials and local government interests) to look into the state’s budget woes, Gibbons might not have needed the bait-and-switch in Las Vegas on Monday.

Contact Erin Neff at eneff@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-2906.

 

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