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Losses aside, Nevada’s perennial candidates run on
by Ed Vogel Las Vegas Review-Journal
Apr 20, 2012 | 890 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Courtesy Photo
Janine Hansen
Courtesy Photo Janine Hansen

CARSON CITY (AP) — Las Vegas resident Lou Toomin got angry in 1990 when then-Clark County Commissioner Karen Hayes didn’t return his call complaining about the condition of his street.

So he ran against her.

And lost.

That’s when he became hooked on political campaigns.

In 1992, he ran for the Assembly District 15 seat, and won, only to lose a re-election bid two years later.

Since then, Toomin, now 77, has been running for something every two years — for the County Commission, public administrator, state Senate and repeatedly for Assembly.

Well, he’s trying again in that Assembly district, running in the June 12 Democratic primary against Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, D-Las Vegas.

“I got the bug; I will be running until I die,” said Toomin, a spokesman for the Las Vegas constable’s office. “That’s how mad I am about how things are going in Nevada.”

Toomin is what some in the media refer to as a perennial candidate. He is one of a number of people willing to pay the filing fees to put their names on the ballot even though they might be destined to lose.

But Toomin and perennial candidates such as Janine Hansen, Carlo Poliak and Mike Schaefer insist they are not discouraged. They profess publicly that they eventually will win.

For this year’s campaign, Toomin is calling for more transparency in state government, such as ending backroom meetings of legislators and requiring the Legislature to follow the state’s open meeting law.

“The Legislature is a group of renegades,” said Toomin, who added that he regularly walks the district and has put as much as $130,000 into his campaigns. “I tell it like it is. I guess that is why I can’t be elected.”

Perennial candidate Janine Hansen

Hansen, 60, ran and lost for the first time in 1976 and has been losing regularly ever since. She is a member of the far-right family that founded the Independent American Party of Nevada.

She has run for Congress, the Assembly and state Senate. This year she is the IAP candidate for state Senate District 19, which includes most of the eastern half of the state, including rural Clark County.

“We are building for the future,” Hansen said. “I am a leader in the Independent American Party and I can hardly ask other people to put their name on the ballot if I am not willing to do the same.”

Through her years as a campaigner and four decades as a legislative lobbyist for conservative causes, Hansen also has gained name recognition and even admiration among some conservatives.

Her nephew, Ira Hansen of Sparks, was elected two years ago as a Republican member of the Assembly. But Janine Hansen refuses to run as a Republican, even though it might be one way to end her political losing streak.

“We are constantly betrayed by the Republicans,” said Hansen, who admits that she actually ran as a Democrat early in her political career. “Look what (Gov. Brian) Sandoval did in raising taxes. We in the Independent American Party don’t do that.”

She noted her nephew backed extending the temporary tax increases in 2011. He also would walk out of hearing rooms just as she was preparing to testify on bills, she added.

In the 2011 race for Assembly in Elko County, Hansen ran ahead of the Democratic candidate but still finished a distant second to Assemblyman John Ellison, the Republican who was elected.

Independent American Party candidates have been elected in rural Nevada races and Hansen predicts one eventually will be elected to the Legislature.

“Republicans and Democrats don’t like us running against them because when we do they have to talk about the issues,” Hansen said.

She is running on a no-new-taxes and less government platform. But her opponents include Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, and the district is heavily Republican, dimming her chances for victory.

Perennial candidate Carlo Poliak

Poliak, a 72-year-old Republic Services sanitation company worker, is a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Two years ago he was a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate and in 2008 a Democratic candidate for the 3rd Congressional District. Earlier he ran twice for governor.

He has been running for something regularly since 1976.

“I have this conviction that everyday folk are every bit as capable of making decisions as people in Congress,” Poliak said. “You don’t need to be a lawyer to have excellent judgment capabilities.”

He won’t run for the Assembly or state Senate because he figures the highest offices are those with the most influence.

“I am a fighter against greed,” said Poliak, who admits he has little money to campaign and little chance to win. “I never get discouraged. I just keep plugging along.”

As an added touch for this year’s primary, Poliak has added “Nakusa” as his nickname on the ballot. Nakusa is a term that means “unwanted” in India. Some Indian people don’t want daughters, he said. For Poliak, it means he isn’t wanted by the elite who “lord it over everyday folk.”

For this year’s campaign, Poliak is calling for reducing the age when people become eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

Perennial candidate Mike Schaefer

Schaefer, now 74, was a victim of early political success. He was elected to the San Diego City Council at age 27 and later won re-election. But in 1998, he lost a race for the late Rep. Sonny Bono’s California seat in Congress. At the time he was living in Nevada.

He also lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in Maryland, for the U.S. House in Arizona, and never has been successful in repeated political attempts in Nevada.

He has lost races in Nevada for judge, secretary of state and public administrator.

On June 12 he will be shooting for a Democratic primary victory in Assembly District 16 in Las Vegas against Heidi Swank and Jesse Cantero.

As a lawyer in 2000, Schaefer unsuccessfully challenged before the state Supreme Court a law that requires people to give their home addresses to the Department of Motor Vehicles. He contended that being forced to provide that information was an invasion of his constitutional right to privacy. He also lost a court challenge over the state policy of listing candidates in alphabetical order on election ballots.

The state Supreme Court disbarred Schaefer in 2001 over several complaints, including his contacting a witness after a justice of the peace prohibited him from doing so. In its order, the high court noted Schaefer twice had been previously reprimanded and also had his law license suspended. He failed last year to have the disbarment lifted.
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