Nevada’s 2nd District: The Next Test

Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall

Was there national fallout from the Wisconsin recalls? Did Scott Walker light the fuse of a cascading backlash to Republicans? It will be interesting to see if that’s the case when the election for Nevada’s 2nd District happens in September’s special election between Democrat Kate Marshall and Republican Mark Amodei.

This is a special election to fill Dean Heller‘s seat after he was appointed to fill controversy-ridden John Ensign’s Senate seat. The race hasn’t generated a great deal of voter enthusiasm partly because there is only a year remaining in Heller’s post and partly because the district is deep red and not many give Marshall strong odds (the district has never elected a Democrat to Congress). But Marshall, the current State Treasurer, has quickly come out of the gate on the offensive painting Amodei as a job killer and business taxer. Amodei, a popular State Senator, and state Republicans wasted little time responding by trying to pin everything on Marshall up to and including the national debt ceiling debacle. They particularly point out that Nevada’s credit rating was downgraded during the recession when Marshall was Treasurer. From the Las Vegas Sun:

Indeed, last quarter Nevada’s credit rating was knocked down a notch by both Moody’s—to Aa2 from Aa1—and S&P—to Aa from Aa-plus.

Both ratings agencies noted Nevada’s severe economic recession, the narrow tax structure, an over-reliance on consumer spending in gaming and tourism and lawmakers’ refusal to enact long-term budget fixes, including tax increases.

But both ratings agencies also praised the state for maintaining healthy liquidity and cash management, which are the responsibility of the treasurer.

On that front, Marshall argues the credit downgrade could have been much worse had her fiscal policies not been in place.

Marshall responded in a written statement:

“It’s unfortunate that the state’s credit rating was downgraded slightly in the early part of 2011 due to years of deep economic recession, but it is still in the AA range. However, the credit rating agencies specifically point to structural issues like the tax code and Nevada’s reliance on consumer spending to fund revenue sources as the reason for the credit rating change, which are not the constitutional responsibilities of the treasurer.”

According to an e-mail sent from the Bill Clinton camp (Clinton is currently fundraising for Marshall in Nevada), the negative ads are flying as outside groups dump hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign. One ad was pulled from several stations and characterized as a ‘downright lie’ by a station manager.

Amodei and Marshall have already participated in one of three debates. There are two independent candidates on the ballot as well.

While Marshall is considered the underdog it is important to note that Reno and Nevada in general are heavily pro-union. Will the anti-union policies that created such an uproar in Wisconsin have an effect on the race for Nevada’s 2nd District? It’s unlikely, but this is Amodei’s race to lose and he shows signs of doing everything possible to do just that.

About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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