Las Vegas Sun

October 23, 2018

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Where I Stand: Wounded politicians use ballot questions to get well

Both questions are being pushed by politicians who are attempting to make themselves whole after suffering defeats at the polls two years ago. A Republican political consultant tells me that several of their past losers, who still have a political future, have been advised to hitch their wagons to a popular political issue to get well. This year, Jim Gibbons and Hal Furman have evidently taken that advice.

In 1994, Furman failed in his attempt to unseat Sen. Richard Bryan, and Assemblyman Jim Gibbons had no better luck in running to become governor. This year, Gibbons is running to replace retiring Rep. Barbara Vucanovich and is using his so-called "Gibbons Tax Restraint" Question 11.

Furman, needing even more healing than Gibbons, isn't on the ballot personally this year but has acquired the title of chairman of Nevadans for Term Limits, which has zeroed in on Question 17. This is a question that most observers believe will pass easily and the odor of victory may stick to Furman.

Furman needs more healing than Gibbons because of the negative campaign he ran against Bryan in 1994. During the campaign, he earned this column's Golden Lie trophy for his efforts to distort Bryan's record as a legislator and governor. Some of his ads were downright lies and half-truths. Also, he didn't do himself much good with Nevadans when attacking Bryan for missing some votes in Washington while giving the eulogy at the funeral of Jeanne Dini in Yerington. Jeanne's husband, Assembly Speaker Joe Dini, had personally requested his longtime friend Bryan to deliver the eulogy. Nevadans don't turn down requests made by grieving friends.

Will Gibbons' use of Question 11 help carry him to victory over Spike Wilson? Will Question 17 purify and revive the political hopes of Furman? We really won't know about Gibbons until Election Day and will have to wait a couple of years to see if it works for Furman.

Because Gibbons and Furman are Republicans, I'll withhold my comments about their "get well" questions and instead print those of a Republican who was an active member of the Grand Old Party before either Gibbons or Furman was born.

Longtime publisher and still columnist for the Mineral County Independent News of Hawthorne, Jack McCloskey gives us the following advice:

Gibbons' Question 11: "NO. An amendment to require a two-thirds vote of both houses of the state Legislature to pass any measure which generates or increases a tax, fee, assessment, rate or any other form of public revenue. That would allow a tight-knit minority, good or bad, to control and/or even shut down the state government. We still must accept majority rule, good or bad, to have a democracy."

Furman's Question 17: "NO. An initiative petition relating to term limits for members of Congress that probably will receive a resounding YES vote. It's another one of those gimmicks that makes people feel good by flexing their muscles and shouting, 'Throw the rascals out,' then feel upset and disappointed when they realize nothing has happened. This one really is a bad one, because it proposes to amend the state constitution as a means of 'instructing Nevada's congressional delegation and members of the state Legislature to provide term limits for U.S. senators and House of Representatives through action of Congress or through a Constitutional Convention.' Further, the constitution would be amended 'to inform voters how their elected representatives have acted in regard to this issue.' It takes a constitutional amendment to learn how the congressional delegation voted 'in regard to this issue'? Who says there will ever be a vote in Congress on the issue? This entire initiative is so absurd that the sponsors should be required to reimburse the taxpayers for the amount of money it is costing them just to have the ridiculous (and unenforceable) proposal placed on the ballot."

Questions 11 and 17 will probably pass, but not with the support of thinkers like McCloskey.

We'll just have to wait to see if they are the political medicine Gibbons and Furman believe will heal them.