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The most contentious political race in Nevada history
by David Farside
Jun 14, 2010 | 2102 views | 4 4 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Woodrow
By Woodrow
The general outcome of last week’s primary election wasn’t any great surprise. Republican Don Gustavson defeated County Commissioner Bob Larkin handily in his bid for state Senate District 2 seat in Carson City. Gustavson will have his hands full challenging Democrat Allison Edwards in this race.

Gustavson is a termed-out state assemblyman. His claim to fame is his habitual “no” vote on almost all new legislation and his ongoing failed attempts to overturn Nevada’s state helmet law requiring all motorcyclist to wear head gear while traveling on Nevada roads and keeping everyone awake with their sounds of ignorance during Street Vibrations.

The death toll for motorcyclists is 37 times higher than occupants of automobiles. The leading cause of death is head injuries due to the absence of helmets. Research by insurance companies estimate that helmets could reduce the fatality rate by almost 40 percent. Still, Gustavson objects to government legislating laws that save peoples’ lives.

Edwards is an educator and one of her priorities is protecting family values and educating our children. Her political endorsements include the Nevada State Education Association, building and construction trades, Northern Nevada Central Labor Council, Professional Firefighters of Nevada and Planned Parenthood. She has more than enough endorsements and grassroots support to defeat Gustavson.

Gustavson is also opposed to gun control. I can see it now: On one side, Gustavson and his gun-toting cowboys mounted on their Harley steeds will randomly attempt to corral your vote. On the other side, Edwards with her well-organized supporters will be diligently and methodically knocking on doors of individual voters and actually campaigning on issues that affect the residents of Sparks and Reno. I wouldn’t sell Edwards short in this election.

Republican Phil Salerno will run against Shelia Leslie for state Senate District 1 seat. Salerno is a termed-out member of the Sparks City Council. Salerno will run on his record on the City Council and Leslie will run on her experience in the Nevada Assembly.

Leslie has been a member of the state Assembly since 1998 and ended her term-limited tenure as the majority whip. She is considered a liberal because she is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, children, youth organizations, Nevadans who are homeless by circumstance (not by choice) and issues dealing with Nevada’s mentally ill.

Leslie was married to Bob Fulkerson, the co-founder and executive director of Progressive Leadership Alliance for Nevada, an organization dedicated and committed to improving the social status of  the less fortunate and providing a “greater social justice” for everyone. As executive director of Citizen Alert from 1984 to 1994, Fulkerson led the crusade against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in southern Nevada.

The mayoral race in Sparks turned out as predicted. Incumbent Mayor Geno Martini garnered more than 65 percent of the vote. Gene Newhall received a creditable 1,247 votes and City Councilman Ron Schmitt had a 24 percent popularity rating. Not very high for a sitting councilman trying to unseat an incumbent mayor. With my ear to the ground, I hear that race might get a little nasty before it’s over. If Schmitt decides to sidestep the real issues and attacks Martini’s integrity, he’ll be lucky to get 20 percent of the vote. If Martini stays the high ground and runs on his realistic plans for the future of Sparks, he’ll win with the same 65 percent majority.

The battle between Democrat incumbent Sen. Harry Reid and Republican challenger Sharron Angle should be a textbook lesson on how politics really works. Angle defeated Sue Lowden in the primary. Lowden was a political protégée of state Sen. Bill Raggio and lost Republican support, in part because of her “chickens for health care” remarks that made her the center of attention nationwide. After her remark, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, a Republican, labeled Lowden as “Suicide Sue.”  If Lowden could have kept her ducks lined up in a row instead of letting her chickens out of the coop, she might have won the election.

Cashell may have contributed to Lowden’s defeat, but he is supporting the incumbent Democrat Sen. Reid. Cashell was quoted as saying Angle is an “ultra right-winger” who wants to end income tax and is in favor of closing the U.S. Department of Education.

Supporting a Democrat is not new for Cashell. At one time, Cashell was a registered Democrat. In 1982, as a Democrat he was elected Nevada’s lieutenant governor. Richard Bryan, another Democrat, was elected governor on the same ticket.  A few months later Cashell switched his party affiliations to the Republican Party. Unfounded rumors were that he switched parties because he wanted to run against Bryan for governor. But Cashell never ran for state office again.

Thanks to Suicide Sue, the debate between these two extreme political philosophies of Reid’s liberalism and Angle’s Tea Party conservatism will be the nation’s window to the most contentious political battle in Nevada history. I wouldn’t miss it even if I possibly could.

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at His Web site is
Comments-icon Post a Comment
June 16, 2010
So Renogal you base your vote on who comes to your door and tells you what you want to here.

June 16, 2010
Gary- For a long time I was undecided on who to vote for in your state senate primary. I finally made up my mind when Allison Edwards not only called me personally, but also knocked on my door. For the first time as a voter in Nevada, a candidate actually asked ME what matters most. I never heard from you.

After reading your comment, you appear to be bitter about your loss. Say what you will about Edwards, but I, along with my family, will be supporting her in November. I would hope that any TRUE DEMOCRAT would do the same. It's ridiculous to look at Gustavson and Edwards and choose Gustavson as the better candidate.

I hope you get over your loss soon and wake up to support allison.
June 16, 2010
June 15, 2010
FOLLOW THE MONEY!!! Edwards actually got more special interest money than Larkin did. Gustavson's money was substantially from smaller donors. I was the demo candidate against Edwards and accepted no contributions but spent some of my own money. I actually won the race on a vote per dollar basis by a long shot and Edwards came in last trailing even Larkin who is a renowned special interest shill. Edwards, if elected, would undoubtedly be a puppet to special interests especially to the public service unions which along with the Republican controlled councils and commissions with their sprawl growth approvals that did not pay their own way have all but destroyed the financial well being of this state along with devastating our quality of life. The best thing about this race was that it surly ended Larkin’s political career. Ill be supporting Gustavson on this one he is the lesser threat as I see it.

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