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Area man thinks veep is out to get him

Vice President Joe Biden visited Las Vegas on Monday, stopping by downtown fixture Casa Don Juan to argue for an increase in the federal minimum wage from its present level of $7.25 per hour to a more livable $10.10 per hour.

But Biden may end up helping a Republican running for lieutenant governor get volunteers, too! That’s because state Sen. Mark Hutchison, R-Las Vegas, put out a email timed to coincide with the vice president’s visit, claiming he was being targeted by Biden.

“Not only are [former Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton and [House Minority Leader] Nancy Pelosi coming to Nevada to help Harry Reid’s chosen candidate, but now Vice President Joe Biden is coming,” Team Hutchison said in an email. “It’s clear Mark’s campaign for more jobs and better education is a threat to democrats [sic] nationwide. Will you help fight back for Nevada by signing up to volunteer today? Early Voting begins in less than two weeks! We need your help making calls and walking door-to-door to spread the word.”

Now, I don’t doubt that Biden knows who Hutchison is; he’s got a pretty sharp political mind that way. And I know for sure he knows Hutchison’s Democratic opponent, Lucy Flores: She was at an event that Biden did in Henderson for Congressional District 3 candidate Erin Bilbray back in July.

But today? Biden was here to talk minimum wage. Here’s some details from the pool report:

“Vice President Joe Biden on Monday used a Mexican restaurant in downtown Las Vegas to make a pitch for raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The current national rate is $7.25 and in Nevada $8.25. [Actually, Nevada’s minimum wage is $7.25 per hour for businesses that provide health care for their workers; those that don’t must pay the higher wage of $8.25 per hour.]

“The Casa Don Juan restaurant offers a typical Mexican menu including enchiladas and burritos. It’s decorated in bright colors — orange and yellow painted walls with historical photographs covering just about every inch.

“In a low key event, Biden led a roundtable. Those at the table included Raul Gil, general manager of the restaurant; Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman; U.S. Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev.; Louisa Mendoza, owner of Keep It Clean Janitorial; and Javiar Barajas, owner of the Lindo Michoacan restaurant.

Biden arrived at 1:48pm. He walked around the restaurant saying hello and shaking hands. The press was allowed to listen to about 15 minutes of the discussion then were escorted out.

During the roundtable, Biden said raising the minimum wage would not cost jobs and would pump $19 billion into the economy.

“All of this is disposable income and it gets straight into the economy,” Biden said. The vice president also noted that 28 percent of people making minimum wage are Hispanics.

“It’s about time we do something,” Biden said. “Minimum wage hasn’t kept up.”

Hmmm, I didn’t notice anything about Flores in there. Maybe after the press was escorted out, Biden yelled, “Flores for lieutenant governor, people! And what’s a brother got to do to get some tacos up in here?!”

Probably that’s what happened. But the Flores campaign is accusing the Hutchison campaign of running on “false ‘facts,’” which of course don’t exist.

“It’s no wonder state Senator Mark Hutchison has been so reluctant to debate Assemblywoman Lucy Flores in his 2014 campaign for lieutenant governor — he just can’t seem to get his facts right,” begins a release from the Flores camp.

(I’ve got to interrupt here with a program note: Hutchison has debated Flores before the Hispanics in Politics organization, as well as on the Reno-based Nevada Newsmakers show, and the pair are scheduled to appear again on a debate to air on VegasPBS Channel 10 on Oct. 17, which I will co-moderate. But, Hutchison has refused to debate Flores on the KSNV Channel 3 show Ralston Reports.)

Anyway, the release goes on to hit Hutchison for saying he (and a majority of the rest of the Legislature) voted to “add” $500 million to education, when that was really just restoring funds that had been cut in the recession. That’s true. And Flores’s campaign hits Hutchison for fighting against the Affordable Care Act and saying mean things about it, when it has helped people get insurance who didn’t have it before. That’s partly true; don’t forget Hutchison voted to implement the Affordable Care Act in Nevada and expand Medicare, after it was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Between his claims of being a ‘fighter’ for education — and ‘adding’ $500 million to the education budget — and his statements about the ACA, not to mention his fundraising appeals claiming that the likes of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi are raising money for Assemblywoman Flores, we are not sure where Senator Hutchison is getting his information but it’s certainly not from any valid source,” the Flores campaign email reads.

Now, to be sure, Hillary Clinton is coming to Nevada this month, to speak at the UNLV Foundation dinner. And she is dropping by a Harry Reid/Nevada Democratic Party fundraiser beforehand. And Flores will presumably benefit from the party’s spending. And Pelosi did visit Las Vegas this summer, to encourage union members to vote Democrat. And Flores is a Democrat. So, I suppose all that stuff is kind of true.

But Biden? He was just here for the minimum wage. And possibly the tacos.

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