Down-ticket races hold more import

Tuesday is primary election day in Nevada, and the big stories will be the GOP races for lieutenant governor and the 4th Congressional District.

These campaigns have been uglier than the southern end of a northbound elephant. But all the money that has been poured into these races can’t change two undeniable truths. First, the lieutenant governor’s job makes bull breasts seem downright useful. In Nevada, it’s been a last stop for political careers, not a steppingstone to higher office. Second, the winner of the 4th District GOP primary will be a big underdog to incumbent Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in November. And the winner of that race gets the right to go to Washington and do … nothing.

In reality, several down-ticket races are far more relevant to the everyday lives of average citizens. The decisions made by state lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, Family Court judges and school administrators can have an immediate impact on you and your wallet.

With that in mind, here are the four story lines you should pay closer attention to Tuesday night.

1. Michael Roberson vs. the state Republican Party. GOP Gov. Brian Sandoval is assured re-election this year, and Democrats are a lock to retain control of the Assembly. Republicans need to pick up one seat in the state Senate to flip control of the upper chamber, make Roberson majority leader and bring some balance to the legislative branch. The only way to accomplish that: sweep the three competitive Senate races in Clark County. However, Roberson’s slate of well-funded candidates (himself in District 20, Becky Harris in District 9 and Patricia Farley in District 8) face primary challenges from the cash-poor, far-right outsiders who run the state party. Roberson cleaned their clocks in 2012.

2. Replacing Doug Gillespie. The nine-candidate field for Clark County sheriff will be thinned to two, and voters have pretty clear choices. Assistant Sheriff Joe Lombardo is the retiring Gillespie’s chosen successor and has the backing of the gaming industry. Retired Capt. Larry Burns has the support of the police unions. Former Assistant Sheriff Ted Moody, who retired over a controversial use-of-force decision by Gillespie, is backed by the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and is running as a fiscally conservative reformer. And former Metro sergeant and Las Vegas Constable Robert “Bobby G” Gronauer is a dark horse who has what the others lack — some name recognition. Who makes the cut?

3. Family Court underperformers. The valley’s family law practitioners have long griped about the caliber of judges in Family Court. Behind a few outstanding jurists are a load of below-average ones and a few downright awful judges, which results in great inconsistency in rulings across all departments. That has huge ramifications for anyone getting divorced or fighting for child custody or support. Three of the lowest-rated Family Court judges in the Review-Journal’s biennial judicial performance evaluation — Kenneth Pollock, Sandra Pomrenze and Gayle Nathan — are on the primary ballot. Will voters send them packing in the primary?

4. Supporting Skorkowsky. Three Clark County School Board incumbents attracted multiple challengers. Steven “Stavan” Corbett, Carolyn Edwards and Erin Cranor essentially face a referendum on Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky. They support the superintendent, who’s been on the job about a year, and the course he has plotted. Don’t like the direction of the Clark County School District? Then don’t vote for any of these three.

Hashtags &Headlines

A new, multimillion-dollar industry soon will open for business in Southern Nevada, and it’s the focus of the Review-Journal’s next Hashtags &Headlines policy luncheon. I’ll moderate a discussion on medical marijuana dispensaries on Monday, June 16, at Texas Station from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The expert panel includes state Sen. Richard “Tick” Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, the primary sponsor of the legislation that authorizes licensed, regulated dispensaries; L. Edward Judice, chief executive officer and chief legal counsel for Bloom Dispensaries of Arizona; and Brad Jerbic, Las Vegas city attorney.

Tickets cost $40 and can be purchased online at

Hope to see you there.

Glenn Cook ( is the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s senior editorial writer. Follow him on Twitter: @Glenn_CookNV. Listen to him Mondays at 4 p.m. on “Live and Local with Kevin Wall” on KXNT News Radio, 100.5 FM, 840 AM.

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