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October 1, 2014

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Jon Ralston:

Tark lives, Goynes wilts, Conklin triumphs

A veritable blizzard of political observations, filled with blazing insight, remarkable pith and unflinching certitude — here’s your Friday Flash:

• Fourth time’s the charm? Danny Tarkanian’s coming-out party this week for his congressional bid has gone well so far. He appeared energized and relaxed on “Face to Face,” claiming he already has $150,000 (we will see in the next report) and seems primed to defeat state Sen. Barbara Cegavske in the primary and then give state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford all he can handle in the general. The race still has a 10-percentage-point Democratic advantage, so he needs a lot of help, including a Rural Revolution, to stand a real chance.

Tarkanian portrayed himself as the anti-Establishment candidate but then mentioned how key Establishment figures, who had shunned him in three failed bids, were now with him, mentioning spinmeister Sig Rogich and businessman Bill Brady.

Rogich has long been close to the Tarkanian family — he helped bring Jerry here to coach the Rebels — but I bet he didn’t like hearing his name mentioned. Cegavske pounced on it with an anti-Establishment tweet directed right at Rogich, who crossed party lines to support Harry Reid in the 2010 Senate race: “@DannyTarkanian says top Reid adviser told him to run for Congress. That won’t go over well with Republican Primary voters.” That will leave a mark, albeit a small one.

As for Brady, Team Cegavske must have been shocked to hear Tarkanian say on “Face to Face” that the longtime GOP donor was supporting him since they count Brady in their camp. No word from Brady, but knowing how private a guy he is, he is surely distressed to have been caught in the crossfire.

I still don’t see how Cegavske raises enough money to overcome Tarkanian’s name ID advantage — he’s the “Cheers” candidate because everybody knows his name. But even though Tarkanian says he doesn’t believe she will actually file — I predicted as much — she seems to be willing to scorch the earth to defeat him.

(We are still waiting for Cegavske to agree to come on “Face to Face.” Tarkanian and Dan Schwartz, the other GOP hopeful, were on this week.)

• Not so total recall: On “Face to Face” on Thursday, Byron Goynes, who wants to be in public office about as badly as Danny Tarkanian, was ready with his talking points and his “Fix Six” (that’s the ward number, get it?) to get elected on Jan. 31 when the recall election for Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross will be held. But he could not name two — heck, he couldn’t name one! — vote on which he disagreed with Ross. Really?

It’s clear the Toss Ross folks think attacking the councilman for flip-flopping on a pay raise and not helping a now-vengeful car dealer will be enough, along with their candidate telling everyone he is not beholden to special interests, will fix traffic problems … sorry, my ears are starting to bleed. And it may be.

But Ross signaled this week that he is ready for the onslaught, releasing the news that the Goodman Family has embraced him, which is only fair after Ross attacked Carolyn during the mayoral primary as having to “mop up” after Oscar but then went crawling back into the family fold after being crushed. “You come to me on this day of your recall and ask me for a favor and you don’t even think to call me Godfather …”

If Ross loses Jan. 31, it will be more a sign of the anti-incumbent times than anything else; if he holds on, it will be the power of incumbency, especially in a low-turnout election.

• Be careful what you wish for: Marcus Conklin’s emergence this week as the leader of the Assembly Democratic Caucus comes as little surprise, nor does the gracious move by Debbie Smith to step aside to avert a three-way battle with William Horne.

Horne had assiduously courted some of the freshmen members, but he could only win in a three-way race — and perhaps not even then — so Smith’s classy act gave Conklin what he wanted. But can he keep it?

The Democrats could easily suffer losses this cycle, and if they do, the vote that comes post-November for speaker might be different. And Conklin has a chance to either rise or fall during the next nine-plus months to make the case for leader in 2013.

• Give me your (not) tired, (not) poor questions yearning to be free: Tonight, “Face to Face” features a discussion with the three finalists for one of the more important elected jobs in Southern Nevada: Clark County district attorney. Steve Wolfson, John Hunt and Drew Christensen have all agreed to appear this evening. Have any questions for them? Email me at [email protected] I might even ask them.

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  1. Notice that all the Republicans in CD4 don't want to run against Ruben Kihuen in CD1 where they live. But they won't fare much better in CD4 either. It will be nice having 3 Democrats in Congress from Nevada.

  2. Danny T. is another GOP loser who has never held elective office, and won't win against Horsford. It's time for the local electorate to wake up. Danny T. has been living on his father's name for far too long. What does he stand for? Outside the establishment candidate? With the ultimate insider, Sig Rogich in his corner, that argument is already DOA!