Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2008 | 1:02 a.m.
RELATED STORY: GOP readies for road to November
In the eyes of her supporters, state Sen. Dina Titus, the Democratic contender for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, is nothing short of a rock star.
When she arrived at her victory party Tuesday night, she was greeted with a string of camera flashes, whistles, cheers and chants of “Dee-na! Dee-na! Dee-na!”
Like any politician in the midst of a campaign, she paused in the midst of her parade to the podium to hug a child.
“Who is better able to bring about the change we need and turn our economy around?” she asked the crowd. The enthusiastic response: “Dina Titus!”
She zeroed in on the economy, health care and energy during her address.
Any mention during her speech of her opponent, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Jon Porter, drew jeers.
Party loyals came to the celebration at the Service Employees International Union Local 1107 Hall on Sunset Road to show their support for her and other candidates on the Democratic ticket.
The crowd was peppered with several styles of campaign T-shirts: The SEIU’s purple and gold “I’m here because of … Justice for all” to black numbers that screamed “got titus?” across the chest, as well as several varieties of shirts from the steelworkers union. Randy Soltero, political director of Sheet Metal Workers Local 88 and the emcee of the evening, tossed shirts from the podium on several occasions.
Those who sported the shirts wore them proudly.
Joyce Hattab, 83, and donning the black “got titus?” version, said she was a volunteer for Titus’ 2006 gubernatorial campaign. She said she still supports her despite now living outside Titus’ district.
“My chest swells with pride so much that I’m afraid my bra straps will break," she said. "I am really proud to be part of anything that Dina Titus does."
Courtney Errington, a member of the SEIU, said she moved to Nevada in 1993 because of the booming job market and opportunities for single moms. The population and economic changes since then have influenced her desire to find a candidate that is for working families.
“If they have a strong platform for helping working people and making sure that we have affordable housing and good living conditions, then that’s the candidate I’m for,” she said. “It’s just like the everyday things that we worry about -- our children’s education, the cost of our housing -- I mean, look at the cost of fuel right now, it’s ridiculous. You have to decide, do I eat or do I put gas in the car so I can go to work to pay a mortgage.”
Henderson resident Karen Wheeler said she supports Titus because of her stance on Medicaid and people with disabilities. Wheeler has a form of muscular dystrophy and has been in a wheelchair her whole life.
“Everybody should have a choice. We’re not like animals that you just put away somewhere and throw a bowl of food in,” she said. “A regular person doesn’t have to fight for stuff all the time. We just want to do our life like everyone else."
Titus wasn’t the only Democrat celebrating Tuesday night.
Well on his way to filling Titus’ vacant State Senate District 7 seat, Democratic candidate David Parks said he is confident that his primary win will carry over to the general election.
“I’m quite pleased with the results. It was a pretty strong campaign,” he said. “It’s a predominantly Democratic district, so I think I’ll fare very well in the general race. And I think my experience will help, too.”
Steve Sisolak, the Democratic candidate for District A County Commissioner, also celebrated.
“There were a lot of Democratic candidates there and a lot of very excited folks,” Sisolak said. ”It was a very energized crowd full of my volunteers and Dina’s -- a culmination of all our hard work.
“The general election is going to be a tough race. What’ll make it interesting is that the registration is evenly split, so there will be a lot of effort to get voters out. It will also be important to explain the issues to voters; where we stand.
“We have 12 weeks until the general election -- that’s 84 days, and that starts tomorrow,” he added.
Democratic State Assembly 4 candidate Craig Ballew said he was apprehensive about running against incumbent Francis Allen in the fall, but she lost on Tuesday and he will be competing against Richard McArthur.
“As an educator for the last 36 years in the Clark County School District, I’ve really seen how education has been affected. So I really believe I have a better feel for what’s actually occurring here in Nevada.”
While local races were at the forefront of the celebration, the looming presidential contest was also on the minds of many.
Patty Nyikos, captain of Precinct 3343, which votes at Sunlake Terrace Retirement Home, said she spent her day talking with voters and found that many of the elderly Democrats supported Sen. Hillary Clinton and did not trust presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama.
“So many of the people I talked with said [about Obama], ‘If I want to feel good, I’ll read a book or see a musical,’ and one man even told me that, ‘he’s not ready yet, he needs to bake a little more. He needs more seasoning,’” Nyikos said.
Rick Taber, the president of the Local 4856 Steelworkers Union, said he is looking forward to the November elections, supporting both Titus and Obama.
“We’re feeling 100 percent positive [about Obama]. He’s going to come out above McCain because McCain is a definite Bush man.
“I think (the energy) is for change. I think it’s for everybody along with Dina. I think everybody is tired of what has gone on -- the gas prices, the energy -- they’re just tired and they need a new change.”
Jeannine Spicer, a 38-year Henderson resident worried about the Iraq War and the economy, said she threw herself into Titus’ campaign after Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic nomination because she “needed to work on a cause she really believed in.” She will be attending the Democratic National Convention as a volunteer.
“I support Obama, but I think he’s making a big mistake if he doesn’t put [Clinton] on as vice president.”
Titus took 84.71 percent of the vote. Challenger Barry Michaels came in second with 8.81 percent, Anna Nevenic pulled 4.25 percent and Carlo 'Tex' Poliak earned 2.24 percent of votes.