Even after district was redrawn to be competitive, Senate Dems give it the cold shoulder

(Photo: April Corbin Girnus/Nevada Current)

Policy, politics and progressive commentary

The Nevada Democratic Senate Caucus, which has a reputable likelihood of successful a veto-proof majority this 12 months, has but to endorse a candidate in Senate District 18, whereas Republicans in the major race have a large lead on fundraising, endorsements and occasion assist from Gov. Joe Lombardo

The district, which was left vacant after the term-limited Republican State Sen. Scott Hammond resigned in October, was beforehand thought-about a solidly purple district in previous elections. 

Democrats redrew the district in 2021 and made it extra aggressive. 

SD 18 at the moment has 30,866 energetic registered Democrats, 33,663 energetic registered Republicans and 32,729 energetic registered nonpartisans.

Former Clark County Fire Department Chief John Steinbeck, who’s endorsed by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, Assemblyman Richard McArthur, and businessman Josh Leavitt, who’s endorsed by Hammond, are operating in the Republican major. 

Steinbeck has raised $69,542, in accordance to marketing campaign finance stories. Leavitt has raised $17,875, and McArthur has raised $21,000.

On the Democratic aspect, Ronald Bilodeau, who completed a distant second in the SD 18 Democratic major in 2020, and first-time candidates Iman Joseph and Donald Connors have reported no marketing campaign contributions.

The Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus has not endorsed any of the three Democratic candidates forward of the June 11 major.

SD 18 is on our list of emerging districts and one we’ll continue to monitor as we enter the General Election,” Greg Lademann, the government director for the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus, mentioned through e-mail.

Nevada Current additionally requested the caucus how it deliberate to be aggressive in SD 18, in a marketing campaign cycle with a veto-proof majority on the line, if Democratic candidates aren’t elevating cash?

The caucus declined to reply. 

Meanwhile, Connors and Bilodeau mentioned they’ve but to make any connections with the caucus. Joseph was unavailable for remark.

Further underscoring an seeming indifference to the district from Democratic officers and stalwarts, teams sometimes aligned with Democrats are making endorsements – not in the Democratic major, however in the Republican one.

Leavitt has obtained a major endorsement from the Nevada Conservation League whereas Steinbeck obtained one from the AFL-CIO. 

Both Leavitt and Steinbeck had been the solely Republican Senate candidates to obtain endorsements from both group. 

The final time the district was contested – prior to redistricting – when Republicans held a far better voter registration benefit in SD 18, the Nevada Democratic Senate Caucus endorsed Liz Becker months forward of the major. 

Less than 11,000 folks voted in that major wherein Becker crushed Bilodeau, receiving practically 90% of the vote.

Hammond received the seat in the normal election with 56% of the vote.

With the Republican voter registration edge narrowed after redistricting, Republican major candidates acknowledge the seat is extra aggressive than in prior marketing campaign cycles.

“Both sides have a big stake in SD 18 going one way or another,” Leavitt mentioned.

Steinbeck mentioned the district received’t be a simple win. 

“Republicans do outnumber the Democrats in that area but independents are even with Republicans almost,” he mentioned referring to nonpartisan voters. The Republican nominee can have to  “appeal across the aisle and certainly to the independents to win this seat,” Steinbeck predicted.

McArthur didn’t reply to requests for remark. 

On the Democratic aspect, Connors additionally views the seat as “very competitive.” While Democratic voter registration nonetheless lags each Republicans and nonpartisans, “the numbers aren’t that bad,” he mentioned. 

“I am stunned Democrats haven’t done more to select a candidate,” he mentioned. “This is one of the seats that if they actually do win it, and I think it’s very winnable all things being equal, this would make them a veto-proof legislature.”

Democrats already maintain a veto-proof majority in the Nevada Assembly, and hope to retain it after the November election. Combined with a veto-proof Senate, Democratic lawmakers may enact a legislative agenda and/or stymie that of Gov. Joe Lombardo.

But each Connors and Bilodeau mentioned they’d desire Democrats use the means of compromise and discovering bipartisan options reasonably than simply counting on veto overrides. 

Bilodeau mentioned since the Republicans have already garnered numerous assist “it is going to be an uphill battle” to be aggressive in the race going into the normal election.

“I hope after the primary (the Nevada Senate Democratic Caucus) will jump in and say, ‘hey, we want to challenge the Republicans,” he mentioned. “That’s yet to be seen. I’m waiting to see what happens.”

‘Cherry picking who they want’

Leavitt criticized Lombardo’s endorsement of Steinbeck and is arguing that he’s a better option to guarantee the district stays a Republican seat. 

“I think it’s pretty well known that the Lombardo machine is cherry picking who they want as loyalists to be up there,” he mentioned. “I look at that and I think that is the wrong approach. Legislators need to work for the people and not the governor.”

Leavitt added that there was “pressure that has been put on me to drop out from a variety of people aligned with the governor.” Leavitt declined to title names.

Steinbeck pushed again, saying if elected he’s not going to be a Lombardo “yes man.”

“The governor asked me to come up there because he knows how effective I am,” he mentioned. “He understands I’m effective at making policy and also at getting a group of people to work in a cohesive manner and find compromise. He didn’t ask me so that he could run to control me. He asked me to run so I could be an asset.”

Leavitt mentioned a 2011 investigation of Clark County firefighters abusing sick depart and time beyond regulation pay may make Steinbeck, the former fireplace chief, weak to Republican assaults. 

“I think Lombardo’s team made an error and miscalculated when choosing who was their loyalist,” Leavitt mentioned. “They completely forgot that 2011 firefighter scandal.”

Leavitt pointed to info on Transparent Nevada that reveals Steinbeck’s base pay in 2009 was $71,346 and time beyond regulation pay was $80,515.

“This is something that could be brought to attention and put Republicans at risk,” he added.

Steinbeck dismissed Leavitt’s declare, saying he wasn’t the chief of the division at the moment, and that whereas others had been disciplined, he wasn’t one in all them. 

“I have no discipline for overtime within my entire career or improper use of sick leave for my entire career,” he mentioned. “He’s grasping for straws on that.”

And if Democrats do win a veto-proof majority?

Steinbeck mentioned one in all his “biggest concerns about a veto-proof majority is to see some of the policies come through that the governor has already had to veto.” 

That included Assembly Bill 298, which capped rents at 10% for one 12 months for seniors older than  62 and Nevadans counting on incapacity insurance coverage advantages

He additionally apprehensive Democrats would enact felony justice reforms. 

“When we take a look at L.A, Portland, Seattle and the law enforcement posture they’ve taken in those cities and the incredible detrimental effects that’s had, my fear is that kind of policy could be pushed here,” Steinbeck mentioned.

Leavitt mentioned he understands wanting to shield the energy of the governor’s veto. However, he mentioned needs to focus extra on discovering compromise on laws, saying “Democrats and Republicans want to solve the same problems, just with different approaches.”

“The mantra is protect the veto,” he mentioned. “The veto is a good tool to have but if it’s used, it’s a failure of the legislation. You didn’t compromise. You didn’t work together.”

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