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Las Vegas Metro Chamber endorses politicians hostile to business

Last legislative session was the most anti-business in Nevada’s history. In response, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce has decided to endorse some of the Democrats who voted consistently against its policy priorities.

“The Nevada Legislature has had many pro-business Democrats through the years, and based on my conversation, most business associations recognize the need to get back to that,” said lobbyist and former GOP state senator Warren Hardy. “In recent elections, business groups have largely stayed out of races in districts with large Democratic voter registration advantages. Now that the Democrats control both houses of the Legislature, that kind of thinking is obsolete.”

That makes sense in theory. Part of the National Rifle Association’s historical strength came from endorsing Democrats who were strong supporters of the Second Amendment. The Las Vegas chamber’s execution of that plan, however, is painfully inept.

Last week it endorsed 13 incumbent Democrat legislators. Did any of these Democrats break with their party to oppose minimum wage hikes or rolling back collective bargaining reforms? Did any of them at least oppose increasing electricity prices by raising Nevada’s Renewable Portfolio Standard? No, nope and not a chance.

Of the 14 bills Gov. Brian Sandoval vetoed that the chamber opposed, just one Democrat voted against one of those bills — once. Nevada needs pro-business Democrats. There’s little evidence any of them exist in the state Legislature.

“If things with a specific legislator don’t work out, they may not be endorsed next time,” said Paul Moradkhan, government affairs vice president for the chamber. “Some incumbents don’t receive endorsements they may have received previously.”

That threat would carry more weight if the group didn’t just endorse 13 incumbents who voted to burden businesses with higher costs and fees.

The chamber also endorsed two Democrat newbies. This could be a smart strategy. “Current Democrats want to turn Nevada into California, so we’ll cultivate some moderate newcomers,” the thinking could go. But one of its endorsements went to Howard Watts III, who previously served as a community organizer for the far-left Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. He wants to “raise the minimum wage, require employees to provide paid sick leave … and require half of our energy to be renewable by 2030.”

If that sounds like an odd person for the chamber to endorse, that’s because it is. Those are all positions the chamber opposes.

“There are very few absolutes for the chamber,” said Moradkhan. “It’s the willingness to work, sit down and talk and work through issues. That’s what our members are telling us where they want the chamber to be.”

This is like the Thanksgiving turkey being OK with his fate as long as the chef talks with him about whether he’ll be baked or fried.

The Las Vegas chamber tells its members that it “helps elect business-friendly policymakers.” What it doesn’t tell them is that it also helps elect politicians who are openly hostile to job creators. If you’re a chamber member and that concerns you, you should leave and join an alternative group, such as the Real Chamber of Commerce or Nevada Federation of Independent Business.

Nevada business owners face many challenges. A chamber that supports anti-business politicians shouldn’t be one of them.

Listen to Victor Joecks discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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