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October 24, 2014

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Jon Ralston:

Predictions for year ahead in politics

Iowa is so yesterday, and today I am about tomorrow.

It’s that time of year again when a pundit is in that halcyon state, yet to put his putative expertise on the line, where no forecast has yet been overrun by reality, where no pronouncement has yet been squashed by events.

And so I once again step forward, bravely into the breach, half a league onward, ready to cross swords with the naysayers and haters — and, of course, the permanent hectoring class. But first, some crowing and eating thereof.

Last year at this time, I wrote presciently: “Democratic legislative leaders will wail about the inhumanity of the Sandoval budget, float various taxing proposals, including a franchise tax and a services tax, before settling for a minor increase. They will get enough Republicans to go along, after concessions on public salaries and benefits and education accountability.”

That is frighteningly close, eh?

Of course, I added, “Sandoval will veto their budget. They will override him.”

Not so close.

But there was other good news for your fearless oracle. I correctly predicted Dina Titus’ return to the congressional sweepstakes and the U.S. Senate match-up between then-Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller. Indeed, I foretold John Ensign announcing he wouldn’t seek re-election, although I did not have the fortitude to say he would then resign.

But pretty impressive, if I do say so. And I do.

Finally, I was slightly off on my Las Vegas mayor’s race prediction. I said Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown would win (he missed the runoff). But — there’s always a but with pundits — I also wrote, “Upset Special: If a respected — and I mean, widely — business type runs, he or she will win.”

That’s pretty close to Carolyn Goodman, right? Throw a pundit a bone.

Not packing my bags for Delphi, but a pretty good year. It is crazy to predict outcomes so far out, but to validate that old definition of insanity, here I go again, reserving the right to change these at any time during the year (aka Pundit’s Prerogative).

The Locks

• State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford will easily be elected to Nevada’s new congressional seat despite a spirited (they always are) challenge from Danny Tarkanian. State Sen. Barbara Cegavske will not file.

• Mitt Romney will win the Nevada GOP caucus. Ron Paul will (again) finish second. But it will mean little because the race will be seen as over by the time Feb. 4 arrives.

• Nevada’s labor and business (yes, gaming, too) will qualify a tax initiative for the 2014 ballot. They will highlight education funding. Bonus prediction: It will still lose.

The Probables

• Hardest one of the year: I think Rep. Shelley Berkley is, in some ways, a better candidate than Sen. Dean Heller. And she has a fervent following because of all her years as a Democratic stalwart, much more so than Harry Reid had last year. But methinks Heller will benefit from her not playing so well outside of the South, and I think Mediscare will not offset issues he will use against her. I think Heller ekes it out despite the Democratic machine.

• State Sen. Ruben Kihuen seems to be in the right place at the right time — a picture-perfect Hispanic candidate running as the Democrats desperately need to rev up the Latino vote. But he has no record to run on, a name identification gap to bridge and a take-no-prisoners opponent who will delight in roasting him. Titus will return to Congress.

• Rep. Joe Heck will survive. But the race with Speaker John Oceguera will be close.

• Republicans will take control of the state Senate. They have two quality candidates in two critical seats — ex-Henderson Councilman Steve Kirk and ambitious attorney Mark Hutchison. Democrats will hold the Assembly, but it will be tighter than they think. Legislative candidates will not have the luxury of a Barack Obama wave this cycle, although he will win the state in a close contest.

The Fantasies

• Secretary of State Ross Miller will announce he is challenging Rep. Shelley Berkley in a U.S. Senate primary. Dina Titus will decide to get into the CD3 race against Oceguera. Oceguera will get into the race against Kihuen. (All pundits are secret — or not-so-secret — sadists.)

• Elaine Wynn will announce she is forming an exploratory committee to consider running for governor in 2014. She says her decision will be based on how Gov. Brian Sandoval performs during the 2013 Legislature.

• The final debate of the 2012 presidential race will be held on a Las Vegas television program, chosen because of Harry Reid’s influence on one side and Mitt Romney’s on the other. There will be no agenda or any newsmakers present, just one ex-Buffalonian.

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  1. Wait Jon, last month you gave the edge to Ruben Kihuen. Ha ha. I, for one am looking forward to the debate and letting the voters choose.