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August 23, 2014

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STATE’S NEW REPRESENTATIVE:

Titus promises an agenda for Nevada

Congresswoman-elect reflects on hard-fought campaign, looks ahead

Image

Sam Morris

State Sen. and UNLV political scientist Dina Titus says she’ll be doing a lot of studying and listening when she gets to Washington. An orientation for new lawmakers is planned there this month. She also says negative ads run by her opponent were unfair. “That was what was so insulting because no one in my entire career had attacked my integrity.”

Dina Titus Acceptance Speech

Congresswoman-elect Dina TItus addresses the crowd.

Jon Porter's concession

Jon Porter concedes to Dina Titus.

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Beyond the Sun

In her first sit-down interview since her election to Congress on Tuesday, Dina Titus was relaxed and happy.

“This is a historic time for this country,” she said. “There’s so much momentum, hope, excitement about this administration and a strong Congress. So much optimism.”

Her upbeat mood was in stark contrast to that of two years ago. Back then, in the days following a crushing defeat in the governor’s race, she lashed out at Gov. Jim Gibbons, saying she expected him to be indicted, as well as against rural voters, who she said were sexist. Her political demise was discussed and written about.

What a difference a victory makes. Titus attributed it to the economic mess the country and Nevada are enduring. “People thought Jon Porter was part of the problem,” she said.

Titus, a UNLV political scientist who will take an unpaid leave from the university, also credited the coordinated campaign run out of her Henderson headquarters, which included the campaign of President-elect Barack Obama and down-ballot legislative candidates.

And, she said, voters were turned off by the negative ads Porter ran, which falsely accused her of double-dipping by taking a legislative salary and a university salary at the same time.

“I felt beat up by all the negative ads. My integrity had been attacked. That was what was so insulting because nobody in my entire career had attacked my integrity. That’s when I just turned off the TV.”

What does she think of Porter, a former state Senate colleague?

“Well, Jon hasn’t called me,” she said.

Titus will go to Washington this month for an orientation. The resumes have started coming in. Jim Spinello, a friend and former state assemblyman and now a lobbyist at R&R Partners, is heading up the transition. Rep. Shelley Berkley, from Nevada’s 1st Congressional District, has been assigned to be her mentor.

Well-wishers have been calling. She said she went to the restaurant “Fried Green Tomatoes” with her mother and was mobbed with congratulations from other patrons. (Can’t take the Georgia out of Titus — she meant Sweet Tomatoes, the salad-bar place in Henderson.)

The Greek ambassador to the United States called with congratulations, as did Sen. Hillary Clinton, whom Titus endorsed in the presidential race. Other calls came from House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois.

Titus said she had looked forward to serving with Emanuel, who campaigned for Titus and was a big help through the campaign. But Emanuel is leaving the House to become White House chief of staff.

“Then again, it never hurts to have a friend in the White House,” she said.

Titus said she’ll be doing lots of listening and studying.

“You don’t go and act like you know more than you do,” she said.

Her first focus: The economically embattled 3rd Congressional District. She’s hoping for a stimulus package that will provide money for infrastructure, which would help the beleaguered construction industry, plus help for homeowners on the verge of foreclosure and a tax credit for renewable energy producers.

Titus will seek spots on the select committee on energy and global warming, the education committee, and perhaps veterans affairs.

Any legislation she offers will be Nevada-centric, she said. One possibility: A national energy portfolio standard — similar to Nevada’s — requiring a certain portion of the nation’s energy supply come from renewable sources.

With the interview finished, Titus turned to the photographer and pleaded on behalf of her mother: “Pick a good picture.”

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