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April 23, 2014

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Jon Ralston:

Titus-Kihuen congressional race will be ugly

If Dina Titus’ cellphone rings on the Ides of March, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear her say, “Et tu, Mr. President?”

That would be one day before filing for office closes next year and, if Thursday’s events are any indication of the nastiness to come, the powers that be in the Democratic Party will go to any lengths to prevent the former congresswoman from challenging their newest darling and presumed Hispanic vote magnet, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen. I don’t think the White House number has shown up yet on Titus’ phone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it does at some point because of what’s at stake here — not the partisan color of the congressional district, but one of the country’s pivotal U.S. Senate contests and the president’s re-election, which may depend on Nevada.

Both candidates held news conferences Thursday — Titus to announce her candidacy for Rep. Shelley Berkley’s seat, which Kihuen had already said he would seek. Titus had waited for the new districts to be drawn before deciding she would rather face the callow Kihuen than take on Speaker John Oceguera in her old district before having to face well-funded GOP Rep. Joe Heck or getting into the new district race that state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford is heavily favored to win over state Sen. John Lee.

I don’t care what arguments Democratic Central make about Titus being better served seeking a rematch with Heck — she lost by a percentage point in 2010. I doubt they could push out Oceguera and Titus doesn’t want to take a chance in a district that just became more Republican in a year when Obama likely can’t, as he did in ’08, drag her across the finish line.

So the woman who represented CD3 while living in CD1 is making the right calculation to run in the district she actually lives in this time around. But her sense of entitlement is only rivaled — nay, surpassed — by the sense of entitlement Kihuen displayed Thursday.

Both of the news conferences were grotesque, but in quite different ways.

Titus went first, in the morning at Dina Titus Estates — a federal housing project, not the mansion I’m sure Republicans believe her university salary and pension paid for. The crowd that may have reached 100 included familiar Democratic faces, including a couple of former party chairs as well as former state Sen. Bob Coffin (he’s half-Hispanic!) and County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani.

Titus’ speech couldn’t have been more formulaic. First, the woman who represented CD3 gave a paean to CD1, waxing almost emotionally about her ties there. Then it was boilerplate about her state and federal legislative records and anti-GOP blather. The end.

But this was just the beginning and encased in Titus’ remarks were two lines obliquely designed to needle Kihuen: “That’s why having someone with a proven record in these troubled times is so important … They need to know they can count on someone who has been there for them from the beginning with more than lip service and vague promises.”

Subtle, she ain’t and never will be.

But if Titus’ announcement was drawn up from the Democratic dinosaur playbook, Kihuen’s event two hours later was populated with the Jurassic Era of Latino activists embracing their man and criticizing Titus for, as one put it, “condescendingly” running in the HISPANIC DISTRICT. (Note: It is not condescending to assume Hispanics will vote for Hispanics.)

The tone of Kihuen’s confab at the Latin Chamber of Commerce became increasingly vicious and comical, with the Latinos urging Titus to make way for Kihuen, whom they insisted they were not just supporting because he is Hispanic. Yes, I am sure they would have been there lending their airy weight to a candidate named Ralph Kramden.

Kihuen added to the unintentional levity by saying he is “not a professional politician” and alluding to “Dina’s 20-plus years in the Legislature.” And after he had said his compelling life history made him most qualified, he was asked if he was saying his personal story trumped Titus’ experience. “Not at all,” he said, risibly, with a straight face.

This race is destined to be close and bloody, and from here to Washington, Democrats worry about the Hispanic vote being suppressed if Kihuen loses. To which Titus retorts: “What about the women’s vote?”

I can’t imagine Titus getting out unless she gets an offer she can’t refuse, one that would carry quite the honorific or land her in a foreign country. And, of course, Obama, Reid & Co. can’t wait until the Ides of March to make the offer.

So if the president calls the relentless, ruthless Senate majority leader anytime soon and wonders if Titus can be persuaded to get out, I’m sure Reid will smile wryly and say:

“Si se puede.”

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  1. I don't think Titus will win the primary and if by chance she does, Berkley's long held seat might very well go to the Republicans. Titus seems to run for every open seat that comes along. Who does that remind us of?

  2. CD1 is as safe as it gets for a Democrat in Nevada, which is probably why Titus chose it in the first place.

    But make no doubt, ethnic politics are in play there. Remember, it was the Democrats who opposed a Hispanic majority district when the new maps were drawn. They are counting on having the Hispanic vote spread out among all four CDs to carry the day, hence the need for a Hispanic candidate to inspire the entire group throughout the state.

  3. Nothing like having a racisist districts in nevada, you might think you were in Mississippi or something.

  4. Unfortunately, along comes the politics of race and sex. Nevada does not have a sufficient number of Hispanics to constitute a Congressional District. However, there are enough Hispanic citizens/voters who have been redistricted into the Nevada 1st Congressional District, that the fat, crooked old-boy Hispanic Democrat politicians, who have never accomplished anything for the State of Nevada, are demanding that Dina Titus step aside and not run for Congress in the District where she lives, so that the Hispanic Machine's "Golden Boy" Ruben Kihuen can have an easy path to election to the 1st Congressional District seat.

    Ruben Kihuen is a totally UNAPPEALING candidate for the majority of the 1st District's voters, let alone non-Hispanic Nevada Democrats, because he is a naturalized citizen who cannot speak the English language properly even though he attended high school and college in Las Vegas and because he is "wet behind the ears" never having accomplished anything in his one term in the Nevada Legislature. Flat out, Ruben Kihuen is not qualified to be a member of Congress to represent any district.

    However, the Obama Machine apparently thinks it's important to bring out Hispanic voters in the Nevada 1st District, to help him win Nevada's purple state electoral votes. Very savvy editorial writers beyond Ralston say that Majority Leader Harry Reid has decided to acquiesce in the Obama Machine's demands that "favorite daughter" Dina Titus be pushed aside in the Nevada 1st Congressional District, so that "the kid who can't speak English right" Ruben Kihuen can have an easy walk into the Congressional seat, and bring out Hispanic voters in November 2012 for Obama.

    Perhaps the Obama Machine forgets that there are a substantial number of non-Hispanic Democrats and Independents who like Dina Titus, and that if she is pushed aside by Obama/Reid, those Democrat and Independent voters might just stay home or vote for a Republican for both the House seat and President.

    Democrat women's anger at sexist Obama/Reid over this pushing aside of Dina Titus is growing and payback will happen. As of 11/6/11 there's a WaPo article saying that the Obama White House is a sexist frat-house atmosphere where women are discriminated against. This information will be used against the Obama Machine in Nevada if they get their way on the Kihuen issue.

    Hell hath no fury like a GROUP of women scorned. The Democrat women of Nevada will not be dissed by these two sexist disloyal jerks, Obama and Reid. Obama's polling shows he is losing both Independent and Democrat women voters, and he will pay the price in Nevada if Dina Titus is pushed aside.