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The Incumbent Protection Act of 2009

One of the dumbest things the Nevada Legislature has done in recent years was move the party primary elections from the first Tuesday in September to August – right smack in the middle of the dog days of summer, which in Las Vegas generally runs around 110 degrees.

“Now,” reports Cy Ryan of the Las Vegas Sun, “Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and 10 co-sponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, want it returned to the first Tuesday of September.”

This should come as no surprise. The only thing worse than moving the primary to mid-August would be to move it back to September. Why? Because a September primary is the ultimate in incumbent protection. If the Legislature really wants to do something in the interest of good government and more competitive elections, it would move the primary back to June, like many other states.

By delaying primary elections until the last minute, incumbents – who already enjoy a tremendous money and name ID advantages over most challengers – are often able to sit back, horde their money and wait for a challenger of the opposing party to emerge from a bloody primary fight with an empty bank account. Hardly competitive – which is just the way incumbents like it.

A June primary would allow challengers, of both parties, time to heal the intra-party wounds of a bitter primary and replenish the coffers for the fall campaign – which is when most voters start to take elections seriously. This incumbent-protection bill to move Nevada’s primary elections back to September should be opposed.


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