(Chuck Muth) – In 2021, the Nevada Legislature imposed a new requirement on candidates running for attorney general mandating that they be a lawyer in good standing with the Nevada Bar Association.
On April 12, 2022 – and that date’s important, as I’ll explain in a minute – incumbent Democrat Attorney General Aaron Ford filed a lawsuit challenging fellow Democrat, Stuart Mackie – running for the seat in the Democrat primary – alleging Mackie failed to meet the new requirement.
A hearing on the challenge was held on April 21. On April 28, District Court Judge Leon Aberasturi issued an order declaring Mackie ineligible for the office.
However, since ballots had already been printed (to get to military personnel overseas on time), Mackie’s name still appeared on the June primary ballots along with a notice that any votes cast for Mackie would not be counted.
Nevertheless, Mackie still chalked up almost 9,000 votes (compared to Ford’s 55,000+ votes).
Fast-forward to July 26. Republican attorney general nominee Sigal Chattah similarly challenged in court the eligibility of Libertarian Party candidate John Kennedy, who is also reportedly not a member of the Nevada Bar Association.
Odds are Kennedy will similarly be disqualified by a judge. But because of the lateness in filing the challenge, Kennedy’s name will likely appear on the general election ballot even though votes for him won’t be counted.
This is particularly important for Chattah since Ford only won his seat in 2018 by 4,533 votes. Meaning even though disqualified, if that’s how the court rules, a number of votes for the disqualified candidate would be siphoned off from votes that otherwise would go to Chattah.
This easily could be the difference between Ford and Chattah in a close race in November. So Republicans have every right to be concerned. However…
Some are trying to blame the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office for not dealing with the Mackie and Kennedy problems.
As reported by Megan Barth of the Nevada Globe, attorney and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Joey Gilbert, representing Chattah, argues that Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske “failed in her obligations to verify that Kennedy had in fact met the qualifications to run for office and placed the onerous burden on plaintiff (Chattah) to engage in such verification.”
A good argument can be made that the SOS *should* do such verification. However, that’s NOT how the law is set up presently. And what we’re dealing with is what is, not what should be.
Current Nevada law requires that any “challenges concerning qualifications of candidates” be filed with the SOS by a candidate or voter “not later than 5 days after the last day the person may withdraw his or her candidacy.”
That deadline this year, by law, was April 5, 2022.
Both Ford’s campaign and Chattah’s campaign failed to file their challenges by that deadline. If they had, the SOS could have investigated the claims and removed Mackie and Kennedy from ballots BEFORE they were printed.
Again, you can argue that the SOS *should* proactively verify the qualifications of candidates running for attorney general – and other offices with special requirements – but that’s NOT how the system is set up currently by law.
Frankly, both Ford’s and Chattah’s campaigns blew it.
One of the FIRST things any campaign consultant should do, at the very least, is basic opposition research on their opponents – like, you know, whether the opponents are actually eligible to run for the office.
The filing deadline was March 18. The deadline to challenge was April 5. So both camps had MORE than enough time – almost three weeks! – to verify if their opponents met the requirements and file a challenge with the SOS.
So stop trying to blame Cegavske for not doing the basic campaign work the two campaigns failed to do. It’s their own fault. Because we live the world as it is, not as we’d like it to be or should be.
Worse for Team Chattah, for some reason they waited until the end of July to file its lawsuit. Had they filed it back in April, like Team Ford did, Kennedy would likely have been disqualified by a judge long before the general election ballots were set. And his name, unlike Mackie’s, would NOT be on the ballot in November.
Yes, this is absolutely something the 2023 Legislature should fix.
As Las Vegas Review-Journal editor Steve Sebelius noted in his Sunday column (last item), a law change could simply require that candidates for attorney general “be required to show their State Bar card, with paperwork attesting they are in good standing” at the time they file.
Common sense solution. So let it be written; so let it be done.
* That “red wave” Republicans have been counting on to carry them to victory in the November general election is starting to look more like a “red ripple.” GOP campaigns, especially in Nevada, better start campaigning accordingly.
* New York Times columnist Andrew Jacobs writes that lefties are whining that the name “monkey pox” has resulted in attacks on monkeys, even though they are not the source of the virus spread, and want the name changed. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), some 99% of cases have been attributed to gay men. So I guess the left would be happier calling it “gay man pox” instead of “monkey pox”?
* You cannot sanction the FBI raid on Donald Trump’s home without simultaneously slamming the Department of Justice for not raiding Hillary Clinton’s home when she was caught using her personal emails for official government business or thoroughly investigating Hunter Biden’s laptop. Otherwise, you’re a hypocrite of meta-physical proportions.
* Our friend Brittany Sheehan exposes the “ridiculous” reason why Democrats in Nevada are calling on GOP gubernatorial nominee Joe Lombardo to resign as Clark County sheriff. It’s nothing short of a partisan hit job by elected officials abusing their offices. Click here.
* Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks suggests raising the gaming tax while simultaneously lowering the taxes on regular Nevadans in a revenue-neutral shift so the government doesn’t get any additional money. Worth considering…though I’d suggest a tax CUT for working folks as well.
* Ricki Barlow is a disgraced former Las Vegas city council-crook. Got caught stealing $66,000 in campaign funds and did time in the pokey. Now he’s back as a lobbyist. That’s bad enough. But for some reason, Las Vegas City Councilwoman Michele Fiore recently touted this thief’s endorsement in her race for state Treasurer. Review-Journal columnist Steve Sebelius has some on-target observations. Click here.
* If guests at a short-term rental – such as an Airbnb home – are being too rowdy, there are already enforceable laws on the books to stop such behavior. But for the Clark County Commission to screw over every other responsible short-term rental entrepreneur – including our friend Ed Uehling – for the actions of a few bad apples is government run amok. And, sadly, par for the course.
* Tom Gantert reports in Nevada News & Views that “In Las Vegas, some firefighters make more than city’s top-paid judges.” As the son of a retired Baltimore City firefighter, my heart is with smoke-eaters. But paying a paramedic over $250,000 in taxpayer money? Sorry, Charlie. No dice. That’s insane.
FAMOUS LAST WORDS
“(Student loan forgiveness is) a slap in the face to those who paid off their debt or made responsible decisions to avoid debt. … If you take out a loan, you’re responsible to pay it back. One would hope someone with a college education could figure that out.” – Columnist Victor Joecks
“Joe Biden is robbing hard working Americans to pay for Karen’s daughter’s degree in lesbian dance theory.” – Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO)
Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views and blogs at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his own.