Tuesday, September 19, 2017

COMMENTARY: Without a scorecard, tough to keep up with Nevada’s political players

BY LOUIE OVERSTREET

Louie Overstreet

While the contest to replace retiring Sen. Harry Reid figures to be the marquee Nevada matchup on the November 2016 ballot, the race for the seat now occupied by Rep. Cresent Hardy is already shaping up to be a needless donnybrook

With 17 months to go, some who have expressed interest or been mentioned as potential candidates in that race include two Hispanics (Lucy Flores and Ruben Kihuen) and three African-Americans (Kelvin Atkinson, Ricki Barlow, and Morse “Moose” Arberry Jr.).

In the 4th congressional district, where there is a sizable bloc of independent voters, Democrats enjoy a 9% voter registration advantage over Republicans. Whites comprise 36% of the population, Hispanics represent 30%, African-Americans stand at 14.4% and Asians make up 4.4%.

Arberry, the former Nevada assemblyman and longtime chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, approached me several months ago with the news that a number of people were encouraging him to run for the seat. Though I hold both Barlow and Atkinson in high regard, I remember Arberry’s yeoman work as an legislator and pledged my support to him.

I am not personally acquainted with Flores, and know Kihuen on a casual basis. My friends in the Hispanic community speak highly of them both.

With all of this in mind, there’s a basic question at the heart of the matter — one that is vital to ensuring that the community’s concerns are well-represented on Capitol Hill: Which candidate has a “puncher’s chance” of returning the seat to Democratic control in a presidential election year?

The stakes are high, and the hard but necessary answer is clear. The five good people in the race must agree on a process that will enable the most viable candidate to emerge and challenge the incumbent without undergoing a resource-draining primary. Otherwise, the vote will be split — and an exhausting intraparty fight will leave its survivor unable to raise sufficient funds to run an effective general election campaign.

Here’s a suggestion: The five could agree on a date to conduct a jointly-sponsored poll to determine who has the best chance of defeating Rep. Hardy. Or, they could conduct a binding tally to determine who has raised the most money by a mutually agreed-upon deadline. What say you, Black Image readers?

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