Las Vegas Sun

October 25, 2014

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UPDATE: Nevada political roundup: Dems’ new numbers, group targets Reid

(Updated at 4:03 p.m.)

The Nevada Democratic Party is gushing over new voter registration reports out today showing Democrats now hold a 60,068 voter registration advantage in the state. That's almost 14 times the edge held by Republicans in the 2004 election, when George Bush won Nevada by 2 percentage points.

A few highlights from the Democrats' release:

* Democrats now hold a 25,206 voter registration advantage ‹ nearly 13 times the slim advantage that Democrats held in the 2006 election, when Democratic candidate Tessa Hafen narrowly lost the district by less than 2 percent.

* Democrats are close to cutting the GOP advantage in Congressional District 2 in half. Democrats are behind by less than 30,000 registered voters.

* In the targeted Senate District 5, Democrats lead by 2,180 registered voters.

* In the targeted Senate District 6, Democrats lead by 668 registered voters.

Notably, the party says the numbers are being boosted by new voters -- not people switching parties. But will they turn out in November?

Both Democrats and Republicans have 80 days before the voter registration deadline for general election.

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(Updated at 12:45 p.m.)

No surprise that the economy is the topic of the day as the Bureau of Labor Statistics released job loss numbers this morning.

Nevada's unemployment rate climbed to 6.4 percent in June, the highest rate in more than 14 years.

And the Review-Journal's Howard Stutz delivers some more bad news for Las Vegas casinos. Moody's Investors Service downgraded bond ratings Thursday for Harrah's Entertainment and Station Casinos. It also put MGM Mirage and Las Vegas Sands Corp. on notice.

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From the article:

"The decline in overall Las Vegas gaming market revenue through May was worse than Moody's had anticipated, is expected to continue and indicative of tougher times ahead," Moody's Senior Vice President Keith Foley said in a statement. "Additionally, the weaker economy is taking its toll on the Las Vegas Strip as casino operators in that market are experiencing fewer visitors, shorter stays and lower spend per visitor."

The grim outlook helps explain the request of airlines servicing McCarran International to reconsider the construction of a brand new terminal.

Seizing on the new jobless numbers today, the Barack Obama campaign held a conference call this morning featuring state Treasurer Kate Marshall and the campaign's senior economic advisor, Austin Goolsbee. Goolsbee said the candidate's tax plan could provide $425 million in immediate stimulus to Nevada residents hurt by the worst job market in 14 years.

Nevada lost nearly 3,000 jobs in June and has lost 7,000 in 2008. Goolsbee used the chance to take a swipe at Republican John McCain.

"Obama's plan is to kick start the economy by trying to get relief to the people who are struggling," he said.

In national polls, McCain trails Obama on economic issues, and Obama trails Sen. John McCain in polls on foreign affairs issues.

-- Nevada Republicans won't be reconvening to finish their state convention. Instead the state party's executive board will appoint delegates to the national convention, set for September in St. Paul, Minn.

The reason, according to Nevada Republican Party Executive Director Zac Moyle:

"We're very disappointed in the fact that not enough people took the time to fill out a self-addressed, stamped envelope and send it back to the party."

The R-J's Molly Ball has the details. For a good piece on the chaotic state convention, check out this Sun dispatch from Reno in April.

-- According to a new poll, McCain is facing an excitement deficit.

--Fox News is again the the source of liberals' enmity as bloggers gather in Austin, Texas, for Netroots Nation. Organizers of the conference have said that if Fox shows up to cover the event -- which it says it won't -- its representatives will have to wear credentials identifying them as "opinion media."

Nevada political junkies will remember the fireworks set off by the liberal bloggers and Democratic activists when the state Democratic Party sought to partner with Fox News to host a presidential debate in Reno last year. My colleague Patrick Coolican and I examined the flashpoint here.

--More on the politics of gas prices from E.J. Dionne Jr. at the New Republic. This is significant for Nevadans because they're going to be hearing a lot about the issue from now through November, particularly in the competitive contest between Rep. Jon Porter and state Sen. Dina Titus.

Dionne says Democrats, who have been unable to connect with voters over the issue of pain at the pump, should take their cue from Al Gore.

"We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet," Gore said in his speech. "Every bit of that's got to change."

As Dionne notes, "Gore is showing that being environmentally responsible is economically sensible."

Titus has a more moderate view -- more in line with McCain -- saying recently that she would lift the federal ban on offshore drilling and allow states to decide whether to allow drilling off their coastlines.

As Dionne writes, voters want their politicians to do something, and "drilling offshore sounds better than not acting at all."

The Sun's Coolican tackled the topic last month here.

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(Originally posted at 10:04 a.m.)

Early Liners: We're reporting remotely from the old homestead in Connecticut, where there are mosquitoes and high taxes, and what they say about heat vs. humidity is true.

The Sun's D.C. bureau chief Lisa Mascaro reports on Rep. Dean Heller creating a stir in Washington with his recent comments saying Republicans need to clean house, and even pointing fingers at members of the class of '94 -- the huge group of Republicans who brought the GOP to majority and made Newt Gingrich its speaker.

Look for more on this in this week's political memo, coming Sunday.

-- The unemployment rate in Nevada climbed to 6.4 percent. How does this play out politically?

-- The Reno Gazette-Journal reports on Sen. Harry Reid bringing home the bacon, with nearly $200 million in military projects in Nevada.

Sen. Harry Reid

Sen. Harry Reid

Reid's also getting hit with radio ads from a conservative group targeting him, mocking his statement that "coal makes us sick."

From the release:

The American Future Fund today purchased airtime on radio stations in Nevada and the District of Columbia to run the 60-second ad "YouTube Sensation," which calls on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to explore domestic sources of energy, including allowing for offshore drilling and exploration for oil shale.

The script:

ANNOUNCER:

Harry Reid became Senate Majority Leader 18 months ago. How’s he doing on the issue of gas prices?

The Las Vegas Review Journal says quote “Reid has become a YouTube sensation for continually combining his gloomy disposition with rhetoric that makes even his most partisan supporters cringe.” End quote.

Harry Reid on energy:

HARRY REID:

Coal makes us sick. Oil makes us sick. It’s global warming. It’s ruining our country. It’s ruining our world.

ANNOUNCER:

So what are Reid’s solutions?

Reid says No to energy exploration in Alaska and off our coasts. And No to the safe development of our massive oil shale reserves.

But Reid says Yes to higher energy taxes, that consumers will wind up paying.

Call Harry Reid at 202 224-3542 Tell him to allow the Senate to vote on S. 3202 — and drill for oil right here - right now.

American Future Fund is responsible for the content of this advertising. Paid for by American Future Fund. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. americanfuturefund.com

-- Anjeanette Damon reports on her blog that Sharron Angle's property tax cap initiative was given new life by the state Supreme Court. Angle, a conservative former assemblywoman, argued the deadline for gathering signatures should be June 17, not May 20. The court agreed and said signatures counted up to June 17 should count. It's not clear that she has the signatures though.

A good weekend to all.

Sun reporter Mike Trask contributed to this report.

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