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November 26, 2014

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UPDATE: Nevada political update: Court rules on term limits

The State Supreme Court unanimously has ruled that term limits are constitutional, meaning longtime County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and 20 other incumbents statewide cannot run for re-election. But state Senate Majority Leader Barbara Buckley can. (RELATED STORY: Supreme Court ruling on term limits affects ballot)

This ruling will throw Nevada politics into some considerable turmoil during the next few years, as long-serving legislators will leave the Assembly and state Senate, or switch places, anyway. Legislators will be limited to 12 years of service. This is a big victory for Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto, who argued the case before the court. Whether it's a victory for Nevada remains to be seen. In other states, inexperienced legislators tend to get overwhelmed by lobbyists and staff. No term limits for them.

Also problematic, some folks kicked off the ballot by terms limits, including Woodbury, are on ballots that have been printed for the August primary.

Some previous term limit coverage:

-- April 10 -- Quietly, Reid works to void term limits

-- March 7 -- Time’s nearly up; they don’t want to go

-- July 9 -- Jon Ralston says if term limits is voters’ drug of choice, let them have it

And Sun columnist Jon Ralston has just sent out his quickie analysis to his email subscribers: Less than 24 hours before early voting begins -- and while your favorite Flasher is supposed to be on vacation so what could the court have been thinking! -- the justices have ended the career of one of the state's most respected and effective elected officials of the last quarter-century (Bruce Woodbury, taken a venerable former commissioner out of a regent's race (Thalia Dondero) and thrown a wrench into the school board, where two incumbents (Mary Beth Scow and Ruth Johnson) suddenly are done.

So now what?

As I pen this, the AG and SOS are meeting and may come up with language for registrars to post on signs at polling places -- don't forget early voting starts tomorrow -- to inform voters of the court ruling and that certain candidates are ineligible. One lawyer suggested a voter in Woodbury's district could file a writ demanding the commissioner take down his campaign signs. The other issue is what happens if Woodbury, as could easily occur, wins the primary anyhow?

Despite what the Flash Follow-Up Journal had this morning, Registrar Larry Lomax would have to count the votes -- it's analogous to what happened when Kathy Augustine was murdered during her race -- and the incumbent could be victorious. That would leave it in the hands of the county GOP Central Committee to choose a nominee -- a bizarre and disenfranchising event (note to Legislature: change this law) that would surely infuriate likely runner-up Brian Scroggins, a loyal party guy who might believe he is entitled to be the nominee. (Other ambitious folks, such as Henderson Councilman Steve Kirk, a would-be mayor now, might try to get the nomination. The GOP folks will look foolish if they nominate someone not on the ballot, but party committees act foolishly with regularity.)

And who knows -- maybe one of these ousted folks will find a federal issue to pursue ...

More election news

Washingtonpost.com blogger Chris Cillizza now ranks the Jon Porter-Dina Titus race in Nevada’s 3rd District as 19th tightest, up from 20th. Cillizza says Titus poses the toughest-ever challenge for Porter, the incumbent Republican.

19. Nevada's 3rd district (R): Drawn to be competitive, this suburban Las Vegas district looks likely to be a barn burner again this fall. Rep. Jon Porter (R) has proven his ability to run and win in a tough district but 2006 gubernatorial nominee and state Senate Minority Leader Dina Titus is his toughest opponent yet. (Previous ranking: 20)

Anjeanette Damon of the Reno Gazette-Journal wonders whether Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, is push-polling.

She also notes that presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain will be visiting a Sparks high school Tuesday.

Other politics headlines

-- Sun colleague Lisa Mascaro suggests there’s a “little bit of Eliot Ness lurking in Harry Reid,” the Senate Majority Leader pushing “to orchestrate the largest federal crackdown in generations on crimes alleged in polygamous communities.”

-- Reid got angry with the press about coverage of the energy bill.

-- Gov. Jim Gibbons toured the I-15 expansion project Thursday. Today he's touring our light rail project. That's a joke. We don't have one.

-- Here's Gleaner on the state of the presidential race.

-- There's lots of noise in Congress about gas prices, so here's this release from the NRCC:

"With just over a week until the Democrats break for a month-long summer vacation, Democrat Candidate Dina Titus joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week for a fundraiser in Washington D.C. Despite the fact that Speaker Pelosi has plenty of time for political activities, she has refused to bring legislation to the floor that would help lower gas prices and increase American oil supplies."

Titus favors more off-shore drilling, by the way.

In any case, all the talk on both sides is just that -- talk, according to economists, who attribute high gas prices to the low dollar, instability in the Middle East, and demand in China, India and other emerging economies. There's nothing Congress can do about any of that.

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this blog included Sun columnist Jon Ralston's analysis, but not all of his words were included in italics. Ralston's words have since been included in italics to indicate those words are his analysis, and not the opinion of this blog's writers.

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