Four primary races were heavily impacted and arguably decided by one very obvious common factor: the only girl in the car won.
Former university regent Nancy Price, who lives about six blocks from the Tribune, won the Democratic nomination to face retro Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., for the statewide congressional seat. Her opponents were named Sam and Ken.
It was an instant replay of 1994 when Las Vegas lawyer Pat Clary and University of Nevada, Reno professor James Roberts narrowly lost to pyramid marketer Janet Greeson who had no idea when she went to bed on election night that she would wake the narrow winner by 366 votes. Each got about one-third of the vote, just like last Tuesday.
“It seems that the less you campaign, the more votes you get,” Roberts said at the time.
While Clary’s name was unisexual, I recall that he did television ads showing the public he was a he. Unlike the 1994 field, Price is not a political novice and carried Clark County by 17 points while local TV lawyer Ken McKenna carried Washoe by only four. They tied or split the smaller counties.
Price will drive pretty boy Dean freaky. James Dean, he ain’t. This guy’s a rebel without a clue.
Price is married to 28-year former Assemblyman Bob Price, D-North Las Vegas, one of the most stalwart champions of Nevada workers and taxpayers ever to serve. He’s also a 45-year retired member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 357/AFL-CIO.
The Prices had intended to campaign statewide but fate intervened. Earlier this year on Prater Way, Nancy’s car was t-boned by a hit-and-run driver, leaving one leg severely injured. She has been walking with a knee brace as of late. Thanks to her Gomorrah South political credentials and a fortunate first name, she was able to limp to victory and is not to be underestimated.
She took on the entire board of regents in the 1990s and beat them at the supreme court level, permanently strengthening Nevada’s open meeting law. Her advocacy against university cronyism and corruption led to a major legislative investigation and my 1996 series which rocked the system to its shaky foundations. Tribune publisher Linda Brown entered the columns in two categories of that year’s Pulitzer Prize competition.
The statewide congressional district has been gerrymandered for three decades so that no Democrat could ever win, although three have had good chances and blown them. (State Sen. Mary Gojack, D-Reno, in 1982; Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza in 1992 and university regent Jill Derby in 2006.)
Speaking of Sferrazzas, Pete’s daughter, Reno city councilcritter Jessica Sferrazza, won the Democratic nomination for light-guv against another macho field, two Bobs and a Paul. The guys all ran active campaigns, as did she. But the female name again prevailed.
Ditto with the delightful Betty Hicks, who beat two Mikes to win the Democratic nomination to face Republican Washoe County Commissioner David Humke.
On the flip side of the gender divide, Byllie Andrews lost to Teresa Benitez-Thompson for the Democratic nomination to replace term-limited Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno. Both of these well-qualified candidates campaigned hard and the race was close, so everything counted. If Andrews had filed under her full name, Byllie Marie, I think it would have been closer.
“Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” — The new unstated slogan of U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s campaign. GOP nutso nominee Sharron Angle is one dangerous lady. As I told Sam Shad on his statewide “Nevada Newsmakers” show last Thursday, Sharona is as cute, cuddly and perky as Katie Couric and as sexy as Sarah Palin — a pretty package covering the politics of Attila the Hun.
Nevadans in November will have to choose between reality and superficiality. Gov. Jim the Dim beat Dina Titus in 2006 because he looked like a governor and she didn’t. Angle is personable and looks great on TV. She will probably be kept away from hard media questioning because, like her defeated opponent Sue Lowden, she may be as pretty as a petunia but dumb as a fern under hard questioning.
Angle is also a devotee of theocracy, government by the Christian Bible. She belongs to a clique of local politicos who are part of the cleverly named National Federation of Republican Assemblies, which has nothing to do with any legislature. They include State. Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks; Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks; Republican Washoe County Commissioner Bonnie Weber and her husband Mike, and Mrs. Angle.
You will find the history of this outfit and its philosophy at the NevadaLabor.com Barbwire archive which will be linked to the expanded web edition of this column.
Mining tax petitions may still be turned in this week at the Progressive Leadership Alliance HQ in Reno. For more information, call 348-7557.
Be well. Raise hell.
Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, member of Sparks-based Communications Workers of America Local 9413/AFL-CIO, political action chair and webmaster of NAACP Reno-Sparks Branch 1112, producer of the César Chávez celebration and editor of NevadaLabor.com. As always, his comments are strictly his own. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.