For Nevada’s lower house, let’s get the easy ones out of the way first. All of these candidates have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, meaning they have backbones, are secure in their philosophical convictions and are far more likely to get other issues correct, as well. So they all are “Chuck’s Picks.”
Assembly District 2: John Hambrick
Assembly District 4: Michele Fiore
Assembly District 9: Kelly Hurst
Assembly District 10: Tim Farrell
Assembly District 14: Amy Groves
Assembly District 15: Megan Heryet
Assembly District 35: Tom Blanchard
Assembly District 39: Jim Wheeler
Assembly District 40: Pete Livermore
Assembly District 41: Phil Regeski
Assembly District 42: Robert McEntee
Although she’s running unopposed, my pick for Assembly District 1 is Democrat Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
I give her a lot of credit for not only being willing to listen to conservatives, but for walking into the lion’s den at one of our monthly vast, right-wing conspiracy meetings several months ago and having an open dialogue with us. That doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but it goes a long way towards disagreeing without being disagreeable.
As such, Marilyn is not only my pick for Assembly District 1 – which isn’t exactly going out on a limb since she’s unopposed – but she’s also Chuck’s Pick for Speaker of the Assembly next year, an “endorsement” that’ll probably do her more harm than good. But it’s the “right” pick in any event.
Democrats who claim to want more bipartisanship in the Legislature should put their money where their mouths are and pick someone like Kirkpatrick who will actually make it happen.
Although he has not signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, I remember Dr. Bill Harrington as one of the few hard-line, movement conservatives back in the “old days” when he was an assemblyman. So I’m willing to extend him the benefit of the doubt. He’s my pick in Assembly District 5.
In Assembly District 12 (my assembly district), not only didn’t the GOP candidate sign the Tax Pledge (or even ask for our vote), but incumbent Democrat James Ohrenschall has demonstrated a willingness to buck his party, keep an open mind and at least talk with conservatives.
Heck, he and his lovely wife even came over the house for spaghetti one night!
Chuck’s Pick: James Ohrenschall.
In Assembly District 21, the Republican candidate, Becky Harris, has a number of strikes against her. First, she refused to sign the Tax Pledge. Second, she’s a lawyer. Third, she is Assemblyman Mark SureWould’s hand-picked successor. What do they say about “three strikes”?
Harris told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that her brand of conservatism is “blended with a healthy dose of pragmatism.” In other words, she’s another SureWould-like Gumby Republican just waiting to happen.
On the other hand, the Independent American candidate in the race, Les McKay, has signed the Tax Pledge, supports repeal of the state’s helmet law, would reverse the indoor smoking ban for private businesses and would cut salaries and benefits for government workers rather than raise taxes.
Chuck’s Pick: Les McKay.
In Assembly District 19, Assemblyman Cresent Hardy has not signed the Tax Pledge; however, he nonetheless voted against Gov. Brian Sandoval’s $620 million tax hike last session. Ditto Assemblyman John Ellison in District 33 in Elko. That’s good enough for me.
Chuck’s Picks: Cresent Hardy and John Ellison.
When running against Democrat Assembly Speaker John Oceguera in 2010, GOP challenger Bob Irwin signed the Tax Pledge. This year, in a far friendlier district and against a non-incumbent, he elected not to sign. Troubling.
Nevertheless, Bob’s a solid guy, a business owner, and as strong an advocate of our Second Amendment rights as you’ll find. He’s worth taking a risk on.
In District 37, Republican challenger Wes Duncan is a sharp guy who is generally considered the cream of this year’s GOP crop. However, Duncan has opted not to promise not to raise our taxes and, despite telling me months ago he wanted to talk about the Tax Pledge, hasn’t picked up the phone for a convo.
Aside from the Pledge itself, I just have this thing about people telling me they’re going to do something and then not doing it. But here’s the thing…
Duncan is running against the man who will be Speaker of the Assembly if he wins, Democrat Marcus Conklin. And in a year when Republicans will once again come up short in efforts to gain the majority in the lower house, taking out the opposition’s #1 dog would be a tremendous moral victory. And unlike so many other districts, this one is actually competitive for the GOP candidate.
Chuck’s Pick: Wes Duncan.
Which finally brings me to District 22, currently misrepresented by Republican Assemblyman Lynn Stewart.
Where to begin?
Stewart has represented this district for several sessions. It is and has been a solid GOP district. Yet Stewart has voted like a Democrat the entire time. In fact, he received the lowest conservative score of any legislative Republican in Citizen Outreach’s ratings of the 2011 session, voting with the D’s 70% of the time.
Making matters worse, Stewart – a former government employee – has been in what has laughingly been called the GOP “leadership” team under Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, and whose major legislative accomplishment has been to name an official state bug.
I also believe he’s voted for every tax hike to ever come before him.
Stewart is a major GOP embarrassment. The ultimate Gumby Republican.
This GOP district should be represented by a rock-solid conservative – someone like retiring Assemblyman Ed Goedhart – not a liberal. That said, if there was a shot for Republicans to take majority control of the lower house, I’d say leave him alone.
However, Republicans have no such shot.
As such, I’d much rather have a Democrat casting the votes Stewart is going to cast rather than have critical campaign issues in 2014 undercut by his “bi-partisan” support for higher taxes and bigger government.
So my pick in District 22 is Democrat challenger Randy Spoor. His votes won’t be much different from Stewart’s, and if we’re gonna have somebody voting like a Democrat, better to have that person be an actual Democrat. Accept no substitutes; better a genuine D than an artificial R. And maybe, just maybe, Republicans will wise up and nominate a conservative Republican for this seat in 2014.
Chuck’s Pick: Randy Spoor. I sure hope that doesn’t hurt his chances..and is not considered controversial by anyone!
Coming up next…
“Non-partisan” and judicial picks.