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Jim Hartman: Saving the Nevada GOP
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Jim Hartman: Saving the Nevada GOP

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Nevada risks permanent one-party rule resulting from population shifts and Democrats now being in control of the redistricting process following the 2020 census.

The Nevada Legislature will meet in special session later this year to enact redistricting measures for legislative and congressional districts. Clark County is expected to gain one Senate and two Assembly seats at the expense of Nevada’s rural counties, from population increases.

The Nevada GOP is in real political peril, with Democrats poised to complete a partisan gerrymander. The current political lines were drawn by neutral court-appointed special masters after Republican Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed Democrats’ redistricting measures a decade ago.

There is no GOP governor to veto what comes out of a special session — and Republicans should expect the worst. As a result of partisan redistricting, Democrats should be assured of holding both houses of the Nevada legislature in 2022.

The only way to stop an onslaught of extreme, far-left progressive bills authored by Democrats in the 2023 legislature is to elect a Republican governor next year.

67 year-old Democrat Governor Steve Sisolak narrowly won the governorship in 2018 over Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt by a 4% margin, falling short of a majority (49.4%).

Sisolak is vulnerable for re-election in 2022. Many progressive Democrats are unenthusiastic about him.

Sisolak is widely criticized for mishandling the COVID crisis.

He survived failed recall efforts after his draconian “non-essential” shutdown orders resulted in an April 2020 unemployment rate of 29.5% —the highest ever recorded for a U.S. state. That jobless rate exceeded the Great Depression when unemployment peaked at 25% in 1933.

Sisolak’s “stop and start” policies hampered Nevada’s resort industry. State-mandated capacity limits roller-coastered from 50 percent to 25 percent, then back up to 50 percent, making it difficult for Nevada small businesses to plan.

And, Nevada’s state unemployment system — Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) — was a major failure for thousands of Nevadans who lost jobs during the pandemic.

DETR website crashes, full days waiting on the phone for help and unemployment checks that were promised but never arrived were the reality. A 7.8 percent unemployment rate in May, tied for the fourth-worst in the country, persists.

Sisolak’s most bizarre priority was promotion of “Innovation Zones” on behalf of a shady cryptocurrency magnate, Jeffrey Berns. His fanciful idea was widely mocked across the political spectrum, from progressives and environmentalists, to rural county officials and Nevada Republicans.

Berns’ fantasy to govern his own city died before the bill was formally introduced. His “pay to play” scheme included contributing $70,000 to Sisolak, and hiring a small financial firm, co-founded by the governor’s wife, to do economic analysis.

With the filing deadline still nine months away, Republican candidates for governor already include North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a former Democrat; Dr. Fred Simon, a Gardnerville surgeon; and Joey Gilbert, Reno lawyer and former professional boxer.

Congressman Mark Amodei and former Senator Dean Heller are still weighing bids.

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo became the most formidable announced Republican candidate in the field on June 28. He positioned himself as a law and order candidate critical of Democrats “focusing on felons’ rights , weakening penalties for crimes and handcuffing the police.”

A lifelong Republican, Sheriff Lombardo leads the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department overseeing 5,000 police officers. Narrowly elected sheriff in November 2014 (51% -49%), Lombardo was re-elected in June 2018 with an impressive 73% of the vote, defeating four challengers.

Never having run in a partisan race, Lombardo’s announcement said he would block teaching critical race theory in schools, establish an “election integrity commission” and defend the Second Amendment.

He promised to veto any proposed tax increase and support “school choice” alternatives to traditional public schools.

Can Joe Lombardo’s run for governor succeed – and save the Nevada GOP?

Stay tuned.

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Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa, Nevada. His email is lawdocman1@aol.com.

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