Las Vegas Sun

December 1, 2015

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jon ralston:

Optimism and courage from predictable pundit

Having safely returned from the world known as Sandovaltopia, flushed with optimism for 2011 and undergirded by the resultant courage, I now feel confident in sallying forth with my predictions for the new year.

If the new governor can balance the budget without new revenue, make Nevada the country’s economic development model, force local governments to be responsible with their salaries and services and do it all in 120 days (and then the lord of Sandovaltopia rested), I can surely predict the state’s political future for the next 365 days.

Last year at this time, I was not fortified by the warmth of Sandovaltopia, forced instead to gaze into my crystal ball through the cloudy prism of Gibbonsworld. Perhaps that explains the generally good but mixed results.

I correctly foretold that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would defy the odds and get re-elected. I thought Sue Lowden would be the GOP nominee, but I did pen this line last January: “If I were having an ‘Upset Special,’ I would pick (Sharron) Angle here.”

Ah, prescience. A blessing and a curse.

I also said that Jim Gibbons would run again, but that Brian Sandoval would defeat him in the GOP primary and best Rory Reid in the general. I also said Perpetual Tease Oscar Goodman would do what he does best — talk about running — and then do what he does second-best — not back up his talk. As I predicted, Mary Beth Scow replaced Rory Reid on the Clark County Commission and the Democrats held the state Senate but lost their veto-proof majority in the Assembly.

(I won’t brag about my usual PAP — Pundit Average Padding — but I did say Rory Reid would be the Democratic nominee and that Reps. Dean Heller and Shelley Berkley would win, too.)

Now for my two major errors: I foretold Republicans holding a majority of constitutional offices (two of six is not close). I suggested Rep. Dina Titus would survive against Joe Heck — they are calling him “congressman” these days.

Not a bad 2010 showing. But this year, as all of Nevada becomes Sandovaltopia, and our best days are ahead of us, perhaps my best year as an oracle is, too. I’ll get back to you in January 2012.

The locks

• Democratic legislative leaders will wait about the inhumanity of the Sandoval budget, float various taxing proposals, including a franchise tax and a services tax, before settling for a minor increase. They will get enough Republicans to go along, after concessions on public salaries and benefits and education accountability. Sandoval will veto their budget. They will override him. By June, Sandovaltopia will seem like a much hotter place.

• Ex-Rep. Dina Titus will evince a public interest in returning to Congress. She will form an exploratory committee — but with no specific district named.

• Rory Reid will be happily ensconced in private life but will take a public role in a new venture. He will make it clear he will not be on the ballot in 2012.

• Sharron Angle will be in the news. Incessantly. She will make it clear she will be on the ballot in 2012.

The probables

• Larry Brown will be the next mayor of Las Vegas. He will not run on a campaign of “Vote for my Ivy League Charisma.” (Upset Special: If a respected — and I mean, widely — business type runs, he or she will win. What is former Brown employer Elaine Wynn doing these days?)

• Rep. Shelley Berkley will decide to run for the U.S. Senate. She will decide that being in a different house than Nancy Pelosi makes sense for her, and she already is used to Harry Reid telling her what to do.

• Sen. John Ensign, after raising a pittance and seeing Harrific poll numbers, will announce he will not seek re-election. Within days — maybe hours — Rep. Dean Heller will enter the race. Lt. Gov Brian Krolicki will immediately announce he is considering a bid for Heller’s seat, as will Angle.

The fantasies

• Mayor Oscar Goodman will open a speak-easy downtown, but it will be shut down by his former colleagues after homeless folks begin using its giant martini glass as a resting place.

• Sandoval, who has said Nevada is a stock he would buy, will create a unique public offering for state stock certificates. They will be deemed “not investment grade” by Treasurer Kate Marshall, who will repeat her campaign assertion that she is smarter than Warren Buffett.

• President Barack Obama will announce his re-election bid on a statewide television program. The host will decline the president’s public offer to be his press secretary, saying he already is working for Harry Reid.

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