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September 23, 2014

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Nevada political roundup: Parties spar over gas prices

The decision of Nevada Reps. Jon Porter and Dean Heller to join their Republican colleagues in Washington this week to protest congressional inaction on gas prices has become fodder for Democrats and their allies.

The liberal MoveOn.org Political Action is set to launch radio ads in six districts tomorrow targeting Republican leaders, including Nevada's 3rd Congressional District, which Porter has represented since 2002.

The ad ties Porter to McCain, saying both have accepted significant contributions from oil companies while advocating offshore drilling.

Porter's challenger, state Sen. Dina Titus, joined in the criticism, calling the move a "Republican publicity stunt."

"At a time when we need a leader with a real vision, Jon Porter offers more of the same: drill more holes in the ground and take more contributions from Big Oil," Titus said in a statement.

Notably, Titus also supports offshore drilling, with the condition that individual states would regulate it. She rolled out an energy plan last month that would tap the country's strategic petroleum reserve, crack down on oil speculators with tougher regulations and eliminate the tariff on Brazilian ethanol.

She would repeal tax breaks for oil companies and redirect those incentives toward the development of renewables, as well.

Porter has said he favors increasing conservation efforts, investing in renewable energy and drilling offshore.

Nevada Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Lowden weighed in, issuing a statement this afternoon that praised Porter and Heller for returning to Washington. She blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for the state's economic slump.

“Nevada’s tourism-based economy is being crippled by Senator Reid’s failure to address the high costs of fuel," Lowden said. "Right now tourists visiting Nevada are arriving with less discretionary money to spend and many more are just staying home. This is due directly to the high cost of transportation fuels and the impact it has on the budgets of working families and businesses."

As the Sun's Lisa Mascaro reported Monday, Republicans are seeking the upper hand on an issue that could be their best chance at winning voters this fall.

-- Titus continues to be an aggressive fundraiser but still has less than half of Porter's war chest.

-- Nevada Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley is spreading the cash around.

--Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio outraised his Republican primary opponent, Sharon Angle, by a ratio of more than 9 to 1.

--In anticipation of Sen. Hillary Clinton's visit to Henderson tomorrow to campaign on behalf of Sen. Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee distributed a compilation of press reports to the media today, playing up the tension between the two Democrats' camps and the prospect that her supporters would stage some sort of action on the convention floor in Denver.

What's driving the story? Clinton's own comments.

Here's what she said at a recent unity event, courtesy of The New York Times:

“If you look at recent history, I have moved more quickly and done more on behalf of my opponent than comparable candidates have. Most of them didn’t endorse until the convention, Teddy Kennedy, or Gary Hart, Jerry Brown, just a lot of people held out until the convention, kept their delegates, often waged platform or rules or credentials fights.”

But then she seems to give a green light to her supporters to go ahead and make whatever mischief they might:

“I’ve made it very clear that I’m supporting Senator Obama and we’re working cooperatively on a lot of different matters,” she says. “But delegates can decide to do this on their own, they don’t need permission.”

Still, she concludes, “it would be better if we had a plan and we put it in place and executed it.”

Clinton's rally at Green Valley High School tomorrow kicks off a weekend of organizing activities throughout Nevada.

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