Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | 11:52 a.m.
The national spotlight thrust again and again on casino mogul Sheldon Adelson this year may be a sign of just how damaged the Republican brand is. Adelson, who Sun columnist Jon Ralston playfully refers to as "Gondolier Numero Uno," is getting more attention nationally than some of America's most well-known Republican candidates.
Two weeks after Connie Bruck of The New Yorker exhaustively detailed Adelson's soaring business and political influence nationally and abroad, specifically in China and Israel, the Wall Street Journal reports today how the owner of the Venetian and Palazzo is one of the leading bankrollers for the national Republican Party, directly and indirectly. (Note: A subscription is required to read the full story).
Adelson, the Journal reports, has contributed $3.3 million this election cycle to independent groups (referred to as 527s) and helped launch Republican fundraising organization Freedom's Watch last year. He is, the paper suggests, the Republican answer to Democratic financier George Soros.
That has made Adelson a target of Democratic leaders and fundraisers. Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told the Journal that Adelson has "become the sugar daddy for the House Republicans."
But the financial impact of Adelson appears small thus far. Republicans have already lost three traditionally safe Republican congressional seats this year; in two of those three races, in Louisiana and Mississippi, "the Democratic Party bought ads on Christian radio stations that linked Republican candidates to Freedom's Watch, Mr. Adelson, his gaming interests and his business relations with China," write reporters June Kronholz and Tamara Audi.
Locally, of course, his efforts to place two tax initiatives on the state ballot failed.
More political headlines
-- Nevada is a leader in foreclosures nationally, but the Silver State may end up benefiting from the government's pledge to boost sagging mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal.
-- Ed Vogel reports in today's R-J that the state Supreme Court challenged the reasoning of an attorney who contends term limits are unconstitutional.
-- The Associated Press reports that Gov. Jim Gibbons' taxes on rural property he owns in Elko has been doubled. Gibbons got the property, which had been zoned for residential and designated as agricultural, reportedly saving him thousands.
-- I reported Monday that some of Nevada's Republican leaders aren't fond of two of their own, incumbent Assembly members Bob Beers (not the libertarian state senator) and Francis Allen.
-- Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker examines how Chicago influenced presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. (Yes, this is the story attached to the hyper-controversial cover depicting Obama, satirically, as a terrorist-friendly president).
-- Obama is planning his trip to the Middle East, the New York Times says.
-- But the left now embraces one-time Republican hard-liner Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC's hugely free-form "Morning Joe," according to New York magazine. The show begins at 3 a.m. PST, but is worth DVR-ing.
-- Sun reporter Lisa Mascaro blogged today that the Energy Department estimates the cost to build and operate Yucca Mountain at $90 billion.
-- Sun reporter Phoebe Sweet writes that Snake Valley is resisting efforts by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to take water.
-- Sun colleague Liz Benston reports that Steve Wynn again is bucking Wall Street's "wisdom."