2020 Primary Ballot Recommendations

Republican Primaries

Representative in Congress, District 2: Mark Amodei.

Registration: R +10

Fundraising: Mark has $293,000 Cash on Hand (CoH)

Details: While I have disagreed with Mark on a few issues like immigration, overall he has done a good job and I see no reason to support anyone else in this race. This is a solid conservative district that includes all of Washoe and several rural counties and I fully expect Mark to win the primary and the general by wide margins. Mark is an honest man who will stand up for what he believes. He is outgoing and will not hesitate to engage a stranger in a conversation on any issue. I have heard stories of Mark getting challenged at the local Lowe’s and he ended up conducting a mini town hall right inside the store as several people gathered around him. You may not agree with him, but you will always understand where he is coming from.  

State Assembly District 26: Lisa Krasner.

Registration: R +20

Fundraising: Lisa has $40,000 CoH; Her opponent has raised $0

Website extra: This is one of the most conservative districts in Washoe. Republican party has a 20-point registration advantage. Lisa has been a solid conservative vote on most issues. The Republican challenge is one of self-aggrandizement and I have no desire to support it. I support Lisa and expect her to be easily reelected.  

State Assembly District 31: David Espinosa.

Registration: R +4

Details: This a Republican leaning district with a Democrat incumbent. This district represents the best opportunity for Republicans to flip from Blue to Red. We have three Republicans contesting in the primary. This is clearly the most watched Republican primary in Northern Nevada. I know two of the three candidates well and consider them close friends. From a personal standpoint, this is a difficult choice. While both Dave and Jill are solid conservatives, Dave will be an excellent leader who can provide strong leadership as the Republicans battle Governor #ShutdownSteve Sisolak’s tax, borrow and spend policies in the 2021 legislative session. He will take the battle to #ShutdownSteve. Dave is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He can take the Democrats head on and make cohesive arguments that can crush their narrative. For those reasons, I am going with Dave.

State Assembly District 40: Philip “PK” O’Neill.

Registration: R +20

Fundraising: PK has $9800 CoH; Williams $1246

Details: This is a strong Republican district where the Republicans have a 20-point registration advantage. This is an open seat as incumbent Al Kramer decided not to seek re-election.  I like PK as a person and respect him a lot. I am very disappointed with his vote in the 2015 legislative session supporting the tax increase. I spoke with PK about this and he regrets voting for the increase. PK made it very clear that he has no desire to support a tax increase. PK is also committed to sponsoring a bill that will restrict Nevada’s spending from expanding no more than the sum of inflation and population growth, a very conservative position. PK’s is also staunchly conservative on immigration and 2nd Amendment rights. Based on that, I am going with PK.

“Non-Partisan” Races

There is no such thing as a non-partisan political race. Even at the local level, everyone brings political philosophies to the table: Democrats bring big government, government knows better, subsidize and socialize everything approach; Republicans bring small government, individual responsibility, greater efficiency and better results approach. In the following analysis, I will give the reader a situational review of the different bodies along with the analysis of the candidates. Yes, I will be sharing the political affiliation of candidates running for these “non-partisan” offices. I will also be sharing the composition of the district, whether the district leans Republican or Democrat.

Situational Review: Board of Regents

Several Challenges await this Board. Both UNLV and UNR president positions are open and a search is on. Higher Education has been under pressure and the COVID revenue shortfall has significantly exaggerated the issues.

University of Nevada Regent District 10: Kevin Melcher.

Registration: D +3

Candidate Political Affiliation: Kevin Melcher: Non Partisan; Andrew Diss: Democrat

Fundraising: Melcher has $10,000 CoH; Diss has $30,800 CoH.

Details: This district has a 3-point Democrat advantage. There are five candidates in this race, but the race narrows down to two candidates as the other three candidates have raised no money, have no Cash on Hand and have no name recognition. If you have no name recognition, you need a solid campaign to win and a solid campaign takes money. Without money, you cannot put up any signs and you are destined to lose. That eliminates three candidates and leaves us with two: Kevin Melcher and Andrew Diss. Of the two, Kevin Melcher is a rational person who has served on the Board of Regents from 2010-2016. He is well-respected. He is someone who will work with everyone and build relationships that will help advance higher education. He understands the politics, but will stay above it. Given the challenges in front of this board, Kevin is best positioned to have an immediate impact. My pick in this race is Kevin Melcher.  

Situational Review: School Board:

Details being finalized

School Board Trustee, District A: Jeff Church/Scott Kelley.

Registration: R +10

Candidate Political Affiliation: Jeff Church: Republican; Scott Kelley: Non Partisan; Genasci and Heinemann: Democrat

Fundraising: Scott has $3,840 CoH; Jeff has $1,643 CoH

Details: There are five candidates. Of the five candidates, I like Jeff Church and Scott Kelley. Both Jeff and Scott are good friends of mine. Jeff is a staunch Conservative, a registered Republican, and will stick to Conservative principles. Scott is a moderate, a registered non-partisan, but brings a wealth of knowledge from his previous stints on the Board. Both Jeff and Scott will be excellent choices. Hopefully, they will both get through the primary and set up a November matchup.

School Board Trustee, District D: Stan Berk.

School Board Trustee, District E: Matthew Montognese.

School Board Trustee, District G, At-Large: Craig Wesner.

Situational Review: Reno City Council

When Republicans and Democrats agree at the federal level, the budget deficit and national debt skyrocket. When the Republicans and Democrats agree at the Reno City Council, special interests benefit and the taxpayers foot the bill. Our roads are falling apart, our streets look like a Syrian Airfield after a US Cruise missile attack, but the city council focuses on painting pretty green stripes for bicycle lanes. I am all for bicycle lanes, but how about paving the roads first? This entire city council is bought and paid for and most of them need to go. With the exception of Bonnie Weber, they have all been there for too long and their campaigns are fully funded by special interest groups who control their fates. You want a license to build something, you want something rezoned, you want the codes changed? Just sing the right tune. Any dissent, however small, will not be tolerated. I suggest voting against all incumbents.  

Reno City Council Ward 1: JD Drakulich.

Registration: 9-point Democrat advantage

Candidate political affiliation: Drakulich: Non-Partisan; Brekhus: Democrat; Griffith: Democrat

Fundraising: Drakulich has $13,500 CoH; Brekhus has $60,000 CoH; Griffith has $16,000 CoH

Details: Jenny Brekhus, the incumbent, disagreed with Mayor Schieve on a handful of issues, so the knives are out. Schieve and the city council tried to unseat her in 2016 and failed. The establishment strikes again, this time in the name of Britton Griffith, another registered Democrat. I have nothing against Britton, but she will be a rubber stamp for everything Schieve wants. JD Drakulich is an outsider and will bring in a fresh perspective. JD Drakulich would be my first choice and Jenny Brekhus my second choice.

Reno City Council Ward 3: Rudy Leon.

Registration: 20-point Democrat advantage

Candidate party affiliation: Oscar Delgado and Rudy Leon are both Democrats

Fundraising: Leon: $290 CoH; Delgado: $81,000 CoH

Details: Oscar Delgado, the incumbent, is another rubber stamp for the Schieve cabal. The fact a city council member is sitting on $80,000 Cash on Hand says a lot.

Reno City Council Ward 5: Kurt Gottschalk.

Registration: 10-point Democrat advantage

Candidate party affiliation: Gottschalk is registered Republican; Wilhelm and Fink are Registered Democrats; Jardon is registered Republican

Fundraising: Jardon has $44,000 CoH; Wilhelm: $500 CoH; Fink: $5000 CoH

Details: Jardon is part of the Schieve cabal. She is registered Republican, but don’t be fooled, she loves every big government program anyone ever invented. Jardon doesn’t believe in anything other than getting re-elected. I will vote for Democrats long before I will vote for Jardon. I will go with Gottschalk because he is registered Republican.

Reno City Council Ward At-Large: Eddie Lorton. 

Registration: D +8

Candidate party affiliation: Eddie Lorton: Republican; Devon Reese: Democrat

Fundraising: Lorton: $93,500; Reese: $64,000

Details: Eddie Lorton is self-funding his campaign and does not owe anything to the special interest groups. Reese, on the other hand, is part of Schieve cabal, was appointed by Schieve, and is fully funded by special interest groups. Reese ran against Heidi Gansert for State Senate in 2016 and lost. We need someone who can break up the Schieve cabal, so I am going with Eddie.

Situational Review: Sparks City Council

Under Review

Sparks City Council Ward 1: Don Abbott.

Registration: +19 D

Candidate party affiliation: Abbott: Non Partisan; Kirtley: Republican; Stolyarov and Grimes: Third party

Fundraising: Abbott: $43,000 CoH; Kirtley: $0 CoH; Stolyarov: $3800 CoH; Grimes: $0

Details: Abbott is a strong advocate for senior citizens and is considered intelligent and thoughtful by his colleagues. I do not see a viable challenger, neither do I see a need for change in this district.

Sparks City Council Ward 3: Paul Anderson.

Registration: Even

Candidate party affiliation: Anderson: Republican; Ness: Republican; Diaz: Democrat; Smith: Non Partisan; Tavener: Third Party

Fundraising: Anderson: $28,000 CoH; Ness $0 CoH; Diaz: $200 CoH; Smith: $1000 CoH; Tavener: $600 CoH

Details: Paul Anderson is a strong advocate of veterans, has worked tirelessly to stop homelessness. He is a solid, consistent presence on the Sparks City Council.

Situational Review: Judicial Races

Under Review

Supreme Court Justice, Seat B: Kris Pickering.

Candidate party affiliation: All three candidates are registered Non Partisan

Fundraising: Kris has $106K CoH; Christensen has $0 CoH; Rodriguez has $49K CoH,

Details: All candidates are registered non-partisan, which means nothing as judicial candidates typically do that. Kris Pickering will interpret the constitution as written. I will be voting for Kris Pickering.

Supreme Court Justice, Seat D: Douglas Herndon.

Candidate party affiliation: Herndon is registered Republican, Fumo is a sitting Democrat Assemblyman (2017-Present).

Fundraising: Herndon has $270K CoH; Fumo has $70K CoH

Details: Doug will interpret the constitution as written; Fumo is a transplant from the legislative branch to the judicial branch and will legislate from the bench. Herndon is a clear choice in this race.

District Court Judge, Department 11, Family Court: Greg Shannon.

Registration: Even

Candidate Party Affiliation: Shannon is a Republican; Dollinger and White are Democrats

Fundraising: Shannon: Raised and spent $11,000, $0 CoH; White: Raised and spent $23K, $0 CoH; Dollinger: Raised and spent $2K, $13K CoH

Details: Greg is well-regarded and will call balls and strikes. He will not legislate from the bench.

The Tyrannical Overreach of Liberal Politicians

RGJ May 17, 2020

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2020/05/14/tyrranical-overreach-liberal-politicians-sam-kumar/5190245002/

As COVID-19 struck America, governors across the country implemented varying restrictions to contain the spread of the virus. While all states implemented some degree of restrictions, there were significant differences between the approach taken by Republican Governors compared to those by Democrat Governors. Republican Governors treaded cautiously with respect to Constitutional rights, whereas Democrat Governors were happy to infringe on the rights of their citizens.

Let’s start with Michigan where Democrat Governor Gretchen Whitmer is the poster child for tyrannical overreach. Her restrictions have included no gatherings of people who are not part of a single household, no travel to in-state second home, and cordoning off garden centers and paint departments in open, multi-purpose stores. Over in Pennsylvania, a woman received a $200 citation by the State Police because she went for a drive alone during the stay-at-home order. Perhaps, Democrat Governor Tom Wolf can explain how a woman in a car by herself can spread a virus. Kentucky Democrat Governor Andy Beshear ordered State Police to track the license plates of those who attended church on Easter. Louisville Democrat Mayor Greg Fisher banned drive-in church services on Easter Sunday. In Dallas, Democrat Judge Eric Moyé sentenced salon owner Shelley Luther to a week in jail because she opened her business and refused to admit that her action to open the salon was “selfish”.

If you overcome the obstacles and open your business, be prepared for frivolous lawsuits as trial lawyers are gearing up to sue you into bankruptcy. Don’t expect any sympathy from Democrats, as trial lawyers are the Democrat party’s most loyal supporters. For the 2016 election cycle, they contributed $36.4 million to Hillary Clinton and less than $1 million to Donald Trump. Coming to your TV screen for the next decade, endless commercials from trial lawyers with the word “asbestos” replaced by the word “Coronavirus”.

We can all agree that congregating at large venues for concerts, sports events, etc. is a bad idea in the middle of a declared pandemic. Additionally, a stay-at-home order for the at-risk population (Obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes have been identified as common risk factors according to this report in the New York Times) also makes sense. Blindly shutting down parks where kids throw a football or play catch standing hundreds of feet from each other, locking up high school facilities where people walk and closing tennis courts where two people stand 100 feet apart all the while threatening criminal penalties (like City of Reno did) for violations, all have little to do with the virus and everything to do with tyrannical politicians getting involved in virtue signaling. Yes, in the City of Reno, if you are an illegal immigrant, we are “welcoming” but if you are a kid playing catch at a park, you will face criminal penalties!

One final point: Tyranny starts with big government and government control. To quote President Gerald Ford, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have”. That is exactly what liberal politicians did, taking away our liberty by going overboard with meaningless restrictions using COVID-19 as an excuse. If liberal politicians were as tough on those who don’t work as they are with those who want to work, this country would have a far more robust economy than we had just three short months ago.

Unintended Consequences of Shutdown

Reno Gazette Journal May 3, 2020

https://www.rgj.com/story/opinion/columnists/2020/04/30/unintended-consequences-shutdown-sam-kumar/3055709001

As COVID-19 epidemic struck around the world, several countries around the world and many states around the US ordered the closure of non-essential services and issued varying degrees of stay-at-home orders. While these orders have been focused primarily on flattening the curve on COVID-19 infections and mortality, the crushing impact such orders have on the economy and non-COVID aspects of healthcare cannot be ignored.

With many businesses closed by government order, federal unemployment for the week ending April 11 was at a historic high of 16 million (11%), with Nevada being the 3rd worst hit state at 13.7%. In addition to the financial hardship experienced by unemployed families, unemployment adversely impacts the population with higher incidence of domestic abuse, depression and suicide. Greater levels of depression is associated with unemployment as illustrated in this Gallup survey. According to another study, rising unemployment rates lead to more suicides. Even if one is not confronted by major issues like depression and suicide, staying at home also means easier, around the clock access to food and alcohol, which could result in obesity and alcoholism.

While many sectors of the economy have been impacted, the financial impact on the healthcare providers has not received sufficient attention. With directives halting all non-emergency procedures, hospital beds outside of the major hotspots are largely empty necessitating significant cutbacks by providers. Take Mayo Clinic as an example. There, in addition to a hiring freeze, salaried employees will be taking a 7-20 percent salary cut, and other workers will be furloughed. Despite these changes, Mayo Clinic will still face a projected $900 million shortfall at the end of the year. While Mayo Clinic is just one example, almost all healthcare systems around the country are facing significant financial hits. Healthcare is nearly a fifth of the economy and is one of the sectors financially impacted the most.

The claim that the COVID shutdown prevents loss of lives is a blanket claim that is debatable. When the Governors ordered the closure of non-essential services, many of them also ordered the stoppage of elective medical procedures. Under that order, procedures like mastectomies have been stopped and preventive screenings including those for various types of cancers have been cancelled. With such cancellations, there is an increased risk of an aggressive form of cancer going undetected until later. The longer a state continues the shutdown, the more it impacts the health of the general population from non-COVID health issues. While cancellation of elective surgeries may have been a necessity in early-April, we must constantly review the data and act accordingly. The peak was predicted and reached in mid-April and these procedures should have started then.

One final point: Crises like COVID-19 call for a balance between public health, civil liberties and economic freedom. While imbalances between the three for short periods of time are normal, it is important that balance is restored quickly. In ignoring that balance, Governor Sisolak has shirked his responsibility. When faced with the freeze-fight-flight question, the panic-stricken Governor froze. What is more troubling is the Governor’s tone during this crisis. Speaking of Easter dinner gatherings, the Governor said, “You are going to see what strict law enforcement looks like”. Governor, threats from elected officials belong in third world countries ruled by despots, not in America. While states like Florida took advantage of the shutdown by paving roads and fixing bridges, our Governor is inventing inanities like “Phase Zero”. Perhaps, Nevada will be better served if Governor Sisolak focuses on coming up with a plan to reopen the state instead of threatening its citizens.

COVID-19 Response Requires Thoughtful, Tailored Solutions

As COVID-19 spreads across the U.S., several states have implemented measures that are intended to achieve social distancing. With few exceptions, states have issued some form of stay-at-home orders. While these stay-at-home orders are working, the varied nature of a large country like America calls for more surgical solutions to minimize the impact of COVID-19.

For starters, one solution does not fit all. New York City (NYC), the current epicenter of COVID-19, has a population density of 27,000 people per square mile. In contrast, our state, Nevada, has a population density of 25.9 people per square mile. In other words, NYC has a population density that is over a thousand times greater than that of Nevada. Even within Nevada, Clark county has a population density of 242 people per square mile. In stark contrast, Esmeralda county has a population density of 0.22 persons per square mile. Social distancing requirements that are necessary in NYC to prevent spread of COVID, it is fair to say, are not applicable to Esmeralda County in NV.

Population density is highly impactful in the spread of this virus. Consider life in a major metropolitan area like NYC. A typical New Yorker takes public transportation to work. You walk into the subway station, you use the handle to open the door. That handle was probably touched by tens of thousands of others before. Then comes the turnstile, the seat, the handles in the train. The list is obviously much longer, and with each touch it is likely the virus gets transmitted from one person to several others. During a normal day, the virus can spread like wildfire in NYC and have little or no impact in Esmeralda county as social distancing is a natural occurrence. To quote, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), “We have been practicing social distancing for 130 years (in Wyoming)”.

In an age of national news, it is easy to let our decisions be biased by watching the 24-hour news cycle which is dominated by larger states like NY and by metros like NYC. While the virus is the same regardless of the geographic location, the enabling factors for the spread of the virus and the availability of treatment vary widely across the nation. While a large metropolitan environment can spread the virus rapidly, most of the population is within close range of a hospital. On the flip side, social distancing comes naturally for Esmeralda County, but a healthcare center can be hundreds of miles away. Such disparity calls for condition-based criteria (e.g. keep a distance of at least 6 feet) instead of blanket stay-at-home orders. Similarly, focus for rural areas should be around providing quick access to a healthcare facility instead of social distancing. Tailored solutions can achieve the objective of containing spread while minimizing the damage to the economy.

One final point: In a time of crisis, decisions may not be perfect. I think New York Governor Cuomo has done a great job managing a complex situation. So has President Trump. That is not to say that I do not have strong disagreements with some of the decisions made at the federal, state and local levels. Once the crisis is over, there will be plenty of time to review the decisions and learn the lessons. What our leaders need is the ability to make decisions without having to constantly respond to criticism. Barring extremely reckless decisions which don’t self-correct, let our leaders do their job without having to deal with endless criticism in the middle of a major crisis.

Should we be Worried about Coronavirus?

Coronavirus, whose medical term is COVID-19, originated in the Wuhan province of China in December. Since then, it has spread to over 100 countries around the world. Globally, we have close to 200,000 confirmed cases and nearly 8,000 deaths in over 150 countries and those numbers are rising. Over 80,000 patients have recovered from the virus as well.

How bad is it? It depends on how contagious and how deadly this virus turns out to be. The contagiousness of a disease is measured by reproduction number, R0 (R-zero). Simply stated, if R0 is one, each person who has the virus infects one other person. Consequently, if R0 is greater than 1, the virus will continue to spread. If R0 is less than one, the virus will peter out. The current estimates for R0 for COVID-19 varies depending on the region and is estimated to be around 2. While the R0 can depend on a handful of factors, social distancing is one of the factors that will bring R0 down.

Deadliness of a disease is referred to as the case fatality rate. A case fatality rate of 1 means that one out of every 100 people who contract the disease will die. Current global estimate for COVID-19 is around 0.7%. This number would be higher for older patients with underlying health conditions and lower for younger patients who are healthy. In comparison, Ebola had a fatality rate of 50%, meaning half of those who contracted Ebola died. Once caveat: that number was close to 71% in Africa while 8 out of 9 people in the US who contracted the disease survived. Just like with Ebola, where the fatality rate in the US was much lower than in Africa, I expect COVID-19 fatality rate in the US to be lower than the 0.7% we are seeing globally.

Should we be worried? I think we should take meaningful precautions. Elderly people must stay home to the extent possible. Younger people may not be at risk, but they can be carriers of the virus and put elderly lives at risk. To that extent, younger people should practice social distancing. What we need is prudent measures to protect ourselves and our community and not meaningless panic.

Beyond physical well-being, we should also be concerned with our financial well-being. A young, healthy person will most certainly survive a coronavirus infection. The same holds true for the economy: a growing, vibrant economy will withstand shocks much better than an anemic economy. Before we were hit by Coronavirus, the US economy was growing at a rapid pace. For 2019, the US was well ahead of all developed nations in North America and Europe. The US was also well ahead of those nations for forecasts of 2020 and 2021 (Source: OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). This has placed us in a much better position to withstand this crisis than just about anyone else in the world. That said, with coronavirus bridging across the first two quarters of 2020, recession (defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth) is a near certainty.

One final point: Our thanks go to the frontline healthcare workers who form the first line of defense against this virus. They serve us while putting their lives at risk and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Businesses have responded well to address this crisis as some have set up senior only hours for shopping. Pharmaceutical companies have collaborated to accelerate development of treatment and vaccines. FDA has accelerated the approval process for everything from test kits to clinical trials. While our leaders should plan for worst case scenarios, decisions should be based on data and not fear and panic. We have the best experts, the best technology and the best people in the world and I have no doubt we will conquer this challenge just like we have conquered many other challenges in history.

US will Overcome Coronavirus

Reno Gazette Journal March 22, 2020

Coronavirus, whose medical term is COVID-19, originated in the Wuhan province of China in December. Since then, it has spread to over 100 countries around the world. Globally, we have close to 200,000 confirmed cases and nearly 8,000 deaths in over 150 countries and those numbers are rising. Over 80,000 patients have recovered from the virus as well.

How bad is it? It depends on how contagious and how deadly this virus turns out to be. The contagiousness of a disease is measured by reproduction number, R0 (R-zero). Simply stated, if R0 is one, each person who has the virus infects one other person. Consequently, if R0 is greater than 1, the virus will continue to spread. If R0 is less than one, the virus will peter out. The current estimates for R0 for COVID-19 varies depending on the region and is estimated to be around 2. While the R0 can depend on a handful of factors, social distancing is one of the factors that will bring R0 down.

Deadliness of a disease is referred to as the case fatality rate. A case fatality rate of 1 means that one out of every 100 people who contract the disease will die. Current global estimate for COVID-19 is around 0.7%. This number would be higher for older patients with underlying health conditions and lower for younger patients who are healthy. In comparison, Ebola had a fatality rate of 50%, meaning half of those who contracted Ebola died. Once caveat: that number was close to 71% in Africa while 8 out of 9 people in the US who contracted the disease survived. Just like with Ebola, where the fatality rate in the US was much lower than in Africa, I expect COVID-19 fatality rate in the US to be lower than the 0.7% we are seeing globally.

Should we be worried? I think we should take meaningful precautions. Elderly people must stay home to the extent possible. Younger people may not be at risk, but they can be carriers of the virus and put elderly lives at risk. To that extent, younger people should practice social distancing. What we need is prudent measures to protect ourselves and our community and not meaningless panic.

Beyond physical well-being, we should also be concerned with our financial well-being. A young, healthy person will most certainly survive a coronavirus infection. The same holds true for the economy: a growing, vibrant economy will withstand shocks much better than an anemic economy. Before we were hit by Coronavirus, the US economy was growing at a rapid pace. For 2019, the US was well ahead of all developed nations in North America and Europe. The US was also well ahead of those nations for forecasts of 2020 and 2021 (Source: OECD, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development). This has placed us in a much better position to withstand this crisis than just about anyone else in the world. That said, with coronavirus bridging across the first two quarters of 2020, recession (defined as two or more consecutive quarters of negative economic growth) is a near certainty.

One final point: Our thanks go to the frontline healthcare workers who form the first line of defense against this virus. They serve us while putting their lives at risk and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Businesses have responded well to address this crisis as some have set up senior only hours for shopping. Pharmaceutical companies have collaborated to accelerate development of treatment and vaccines. FDA has accelerated the approval process for everything from test kits to clinical trials. While our leaders should plan for worst case scenarios, decisions should be based on data and not fear and panic. We have the best experts, the best technology and the best people in the world and I have no doubt we will conquer this challenge just like we have conquered many other challenges in history.

Takeaways from Super Tuesday

Reno Gazette Journal March 8, 2020

Super Tuesday has come and gone and a total of 1357 delegates (34% of the total) were allocated to various candidates on March 3rd. While most of the delegates from the Super Tuesday are still in the process of being allocated, there are clear trends that give us a good idea of where things are headed in the Democrat nomination contest.

Swing state problem: Bernie has had strong performance in New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado and Minnesota. They are all swing states in the general election. 12% of Bernie supporters in 2016 voted for Trump in the general election (Source: NPR). Expect that number to be higher this time if Bernie is not the nominee.

Racial divide: Blacks are going strong for Biden; Hispanics are going strong for Bernie. In a two-man race, this is an interesting dynamic to watch. The Hispanic factor could easily swing Nevada Red if Bernie is not the Democrat nominee.

Biden’s gaffes get worse: During his Super Tuesday victory speech he confused his wife for his sister. A day before, he called it Super Thursday before stopping himself. He called Chris Wallace Chuck (Todd). During the debate he claimed 150 million American lives (about half of the total population) were lost to gun violence since 2007. He botched the Declaration of Independence during a rally in Texas with, “All men and women created … by the — you know — you know the thing”. A single miss is not an issue. Taken collectively, this pattern of miscues is disquieting. In my August column Bob Mueller’s last act, I wrote about the once great war hero Bob Mueller’s disappointing testimony where he looked totally lost. Much like Mueller, Joe Biden, once a dominant figure in American politics, appears to be headed in the wrong direction cognitively at a crucial time.

More Progressive weapons backfire: Progressive activists constantly entered Trump rallies in the lead up to the 2016 election. While I fully recognize one’s rights to peaceful protests, entering another person’s event to disrupt proceedings clearly crosses the line. That weapon has now turned against the Democrats. Amy Klobuchar had to cancel a rally when protestors stormed the stage. Joe Biden’s victory speech was interrupted by protestors nearly endangering the former vice president’s physical safety. Bernie’s rally in Carson City was interrupted by protestors last month.  

Networks deceive: Networks kept “calling” the race and putting a check mark next to the candidate like it is the general election. Somehow, they ignored the fact that unlike the general election, where it is winner take all, the Democratic primary allocates delegates proportionally. Take Texas as an example. At last check, Biden had bagged 81 delegates and Bernie had won 72 delegates. Yet the networks declared Biden a “winner” a few hours after the polls closed.

One final point: Just before the South Carolina primary, fresh off a massive win in Nevada, Bernie Sanders appeared to have a clear path to the Democrat party nomination. New York Times interviewed 93 unelected “superdelegates”. According to The Times, they were committed to stopping Bernie Sanders even if it meant intraparty damage. This adds fuel to the Bernie Bros perception they are being cheated.

Following Biden’s victory in South Carolina and on the eve of Super Tuesday, Klobuchar, Buttigieg and O’Rourke, all endorsed Biden. The day after Super Tuesday, Bloomberg dropped out and endorsed Biden. The timing of these endorsements will sure come across to Bernie supporters as an organized attempt by the party to stop Bernie.  If Bernie does not win the nomination, these endorsements will come back to haunt the Democrats in the general election and for years to come.

Progressive Weapons of Political Destruction Backfire

Reno Gazette Journal February 23, 2020

The Democrat field is down to a handful of candidates who meet the criteria for making the debate stage. With the early elimination of several candidates, we have an all-white contingent on the stage. At a similar point in the Republican primary race in 2016, the field was far more diverse with Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.

Whether someone just by virtue of their darker skin would add substantively to the debate is a topic for a different piece. A vast majority of Republicans, myself included, do not care about the color of the skin as much as we care about the content of the character, but set that aside for the time being. The left has dredged up every opportunity they can find to tag the Republicans as white and racist. Now, the weapon of race they deployed against the Republicans is coming back to haunt them.

To be sure, the deployment of race as a weapon is not a rare occurrence with the left. Kamala Harris blamed race for her failures on her way out of the presidential race. Even before that, she accused Joe Biden of racism. Julian Castro and Corey Booker also pulled out the race card at the exit door. Now, winning Iowa and New Hampshire is not really that important because those states are too white.

Lost in the self-pity of progressive politicians is whether political success of Black and Hispanic politicians has led to better lives for Blacks and Hispanics. Take for example, President Obama, our first black President. If President Obama truly cares about the black community, why is he not in Chicago working on reducing the violence there which claims nearly 600 lives, most of them black, every year? Instead, President Obama lives in a $15 million Martha’s Vineyard estate rubbing elbows with his rich and famous neighbors, 87% of them white (Martha’s Vineyard is his second home, his primary residence in D.C. was purchased for another $8.1 million and features a massive wall). As far as progressive politicians go, forget black lives, it’s the black votes that matter.

Race is not the only weapon of political destruction the Progressives have unleashed on their opponents. Remember when the flavor of the month “#metoo” movement? It backfired and took out one of the major Progressive donors, Harvey Weinstein. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders campaigns all have issues with misbehavior against women.

After the 2016 elections, Democrats weaponized the electoral college. Today, Sanders wins the popular vote in the Iowa caucus but comes in second to Buttigieg in delegates. They accused President Trump of being a Russian agent. Now, that same weapon is aimed at Tulsi Gabbard. For several cycles, Bloomberg bought elections by spending against Republicans. Now, Bloomberg is trying to buy an election by spending against Democrats.

One final point: Once you take an issue, weaponize it, and deploy it against the other party, it is just a matter of time before that weapon is turned against your own party. The Democrats impeached the President when no crime was committed and with no chance of getting 67 votes in the Senate. Next time, when a Republican controlled House impeaches a Democrat president for some lame reason, you may want to look back to the 2019-2020 silly season.

The Iowa Mess and the Internal Workings of a Caucus

Reno Gazette Journal February 9, 2020

The 2020 Presidential primary season kicked off with the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucus. The days long, massive delay by the Iowa Democrat Party has brought to light the challenges in organizing a caucus. As the first Vice Chairman of Washoe County Republican Party (WCRP) in 2012, I was part of the core team that was instrumental in organizing the 2012 Presidential caucus for the Republican party in Washoe county. We organized a picture-perfect caucus and were the first county in Nevada to announce the results. We did it all with a volunteer force that didn’t get paid a single dime. This column is intended to shed light on the challenges in organizing a successful caucus.

For starters, there are significant differences between a caucus and a primary. A primary is organized by the Secretary of State in coordination with the Registrar of Voters in the counties. A caucus is organized by the party. In other words, a primary is run by hundreds of full-time year-round employees, while a caucus is run by volunteers who donate their time and skills. Additionally, county and state parties have elections every two years, which essentially means there will be little continuity from one presidential cycle to the next.

Putting together a caucus takes over a year of planning. It starts with excellent leadership. In 2012, Dave Buell was the WCRP Chairman and he led by example. We set out to assemble an A-team. We recruited Orrin Johnson (you may recall he wrote this Sunday column before me) to spearhead the effort. Orrin is a talented, intelligent and organized leader. Dave, Orrin and I all had extensive backgrounds in management which allowed us to plan and execute the process to perfection. The next task is to recruit the location coordinators (who are responsible for decision-making at the locations, managing everything including registration, ballot security and counting of votes), secure about 25 caucus locations from Incline Village to Gerlach and everything in between, recruit about 20-30 volunteers for each location, assemble a communications team to respond to media requests, print ballots, get the message out about the caucus locations, build a caucus website, assign all voters to reasonably close locations, communicate to voters their caucus locations, and perform a long list of other tasks.

A successful caucus requires everything to go right. The voter list has to be clean. Based on their precinct, participants have to go to a specific location at a set time. Go to the wrong location or show up half hour late, and you lose your chance to vote. Caucus voting takes place in the precinct. Once the precinct meeting is adjourned, the envelope for that precinct with the ballots is sealed and no one can open that envelope until they count the ballots in the presence of the candidates’ representatives. Most caucus participants don’t understand the process, resulting in frustration.

One final point: Where the Iowa Democrat Party failed, Nevada Democrat Party must succeed. We currently have the first-in-the-west caucus. Nevada has an opportunity to cement our place in line and potentially move up in the schedule, thanks to Iowa’s failure. I want the Nevada Democrat Party to succeed as that will enhance our standing in the primary/caucus schedule. We will return to partisan politics in my next column, but for now, it is state over party. NV Dems, do it right! Cement our place as an early primary/caucus state and make our state proud.

Democrats are a House Divided

Reno Gazette Journal January 26, 2020

The New York Times (NYT), an ultra-left wing newspaper, which has endorsed every Democrat Presidential candidate since President Kennedy, entered the Democrat Primary fray for 2020 by endorsing not one but two Presidential candidates: Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren.

Let’s set aside the fact that endorsing two candidates when voters can only vote for one candidate is akin to picking both Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers to win the Superbowl. The move by NYT to endorse two candidates instead of one highlights the quandary for the Democrat party: two different political philosophies going head-to-head in a party that is deeply divided. This division has no end in sight as there are several enabling factors identified below that will likely make the situation only worse.

Candidate funding: Recent Federal Election (FEC) filings show three candidates (Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg) with at least $20 million “Cash on Hand”. Biden has $9 million, but he is leading most national polls. That leaves four candidates who can stay viable for a long time. Add to the list the two billionaires with plenty of financial resources and you have six candidates with plenty of runway ahead of them.

Democrat Party rules: To secure any delegates in a state primary/caucus, a candidate has to meet the 15% threshold. Delegates are proportionately divided amongst the candidates who meet the 15% threshold. Let’s take Iowa as an example to illustrate the downside to these rules. Here’s the most recent RealClearPolitics average of polls: Biden 21%, Sanders 17%, Warren 17%, Buttigieg 16%. If the polls are accurate, here’s the potential delegate count coming out of Iowa: Biden 12, Sanders 10, Warren 10, Buttigieg 9, Rest of the field 0. The difference between first place and fourth place is 3 delegates and no one is anywhere close to a majority of 21 delegates. Many states in addition to Iowa are in an identical situation. California with 416 delegates has Biden at 24%, Sanders at 23% and Warren at 21%. It will take a majority of 1,886 delegates to avoid a contested convention and win the nomination outright.

Contested convention: If no candidate gets a majority of 1886 delegates in the first ballot, the 764 superdelegates (aka establishment) are eligible to vote in subsequent ballots. Imagine the reaction from Sanders and AOC if the superdelegates end up deciding the nominee and picking someone not named Sanders. Chicago 1968 would pale in comparison to Milwaukee 2020.

Trump lies in wait: When the Democrat party finally picks a nominee, President Trump lies in wait with plenty of cash to go after that nominee. As of December, the President had $83 million and Republican party had $63 million Cash on Hand (Democrat party had $8 million). This situation will be similar to 2012 Obama-Romney contest with the shoe on the other foot. Romney was in a weak financial position coming out of the primaries, and during the summer of 2012 Team Obama obliterated Romney and never letting him rise. Expect Team Trump to do the same in 2020.

One final point: The New York Times’ infinite wisdom of endorsing two candidates notwithstanding, the Democrats can only have one nominee. That leaves them with a choice of a Socialist or a “moderate”. Nominate a Socialist, and the Independents go with Trump. Nominate a “moderate”, and the Socialists stay home. Democrats are a house divided, and for some reason, the name McGovern and the year 1972 comes to mind.