Primary voting

Nevada’s primary election is the state’s biggest ever — and not just because registered Republicans and Democrats have a record number of candidates seeking their votes.

The stakes have never been higher, the dynamics never so dramatic. Republicans are choosing a challenger to embattled, unpopular Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the highest-ranking Nevadan ever to serve in Congress, and GOP Gov. Jim Gibbons could become the state’s first sitting chief executive to lose his party’s nomination while pursuing re-election.

But just as important as those headlining races are the dozens of legislative campaigns under way. The citizens selected to serve in the 2011 Legislature will be charged with responding to a reeling economy and reshaping the state’s political landscape.

Record unemployment, a collapsed housing market and steep dropoffs in taxable sales and wagering have sent government revenues plunging. Nevada’s public employee unions, who have long enjoyed robust growth in their wages and retirement benefits, are pushing their chosen candidates to raises taxes — again — so their members won’t have to sacrifice. Private-sector businesses, meanwhile, are cutting back on costs and payroll to survive.

Do voters, who began casting ballots Saturday in early voting for the June 8 primary, want candidates who are hostile toward the struggling employers and taxpayers who cover governments’ bills, or do they support reining in ever-growing budgets and the compensation they provide to our ruling elite? That choice will define next year’s legislative session.

In addition, lawmakers will respond to the federal government’s decennial census by redrawing their districts and reapportioning the state’s representation. The party in control of Carson City will, no doubt, try to give itself an advantage in completing this process.

On Sunday, the Review-Journal published a primary election Voter Guide as a public service. The entire guide, which profiles every race on every ballot, outlining candidates’ priorities and key positions, can also be read at reviewjournal.com.

Review the guide before making your selections. Don’t cast an uninformed vote. If you aren’t familiar with any of the candidates in a particular race, leave it blank. An uninformed vote is more than a wasted vote — it’s a damaging one.

The stakes have never been higher.

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