Friday, May 16, 2008 | 2:01 a.m.
As I empty out the reporter’s notebook this Friday, I try to answer the question: Which party has the craziest folks running (or trying to run) the show — the Democratic Party, the Republican Party or the ruling party (aka the gamers)?
You be the judge:
• Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t: The Democrats are descending on Reno today for a weekend state convention that promises to be more interesting than most of these confabs. These get-togethers usually involve red meat speeches from elected officials and candidates, the kind that draw ovations and yelps from the energized crowd and yawns and sneers from the jaded Fourth Estaters.
Usually, the only newsworthy items are whether any of the speakers veer so far to the left to please the crowd that they have to run away from themselves later. And there are the always-thrilling platform debates — “Should we call coal plants ‘evil purveyors of pollution’ or simply say they will ‘turn Nevada into hell on Earth’?”
This year, though, with the nearly finished but not quite finished presidential race, and Barack Obama looking to keep his 13-12 lead or expand on it, the convention could be more interesting. And though control of the party usually is best left to the misanthropes and social misfits who grab a microphone on the convention floor, this year could be especially entertaining.
Indeed, one group running for the governing board of the state party is calling itself the Nevada Unity Team Slate. These folks, some of whom are supporters of Clark County Chairman John “It’s all good” Hunt, who so botched the first county convention here, apparently aren’t aware of the fitting acronym their slate has: NUTS.
Or maybe they are aware: Perhaps they are just nuts about the party. Either way ...
• Will the GOP just mail it in? As the Democrats hope for peace and unity in Reno this weekend, the state’s Republicans can’t even find a place or a date to conduct their own do-over. With the Ron Paul supporters, some of them quite maniacal, pushing for this quaint concept of inclusiveness and for the ability to go to the national convention, the GOP has yet to elect its delegates to Minneapolis.
Not wanting to have another debacle where the not-so-well-oiled GOP establishment is overrun again by these new folks, many are pushing for mail balloting. But it’s unclear whether the national Republicans will sanction conducting a state convention by mail or whether the excited and excitable Paul people will sign off on such a scheme.
So the GOP is in limbo and all those party higher-ups who have reservations in Minneapolis, thinking the delegate slate was a done deal, may lose their deposits ....
• Who will blink first? As the gamers try to convince one another of the best way to approach the teachers — or as some are arguing, combat the union pushing that tax initiative — the Nevada State Education Association is pushing forward with plans to file the signatures.
Believing they have the requisite signatures, the teachers are fanning out to rural and Northern Nevada and have laid out plans to hand in the initiative petitions early next week. This comes against a backdrop of Steve Wynn’s attempt to head off a 44 percent increase in the gross gaming tax by proposing an alternative plan to accept a boost in room taxes — a much less painful hit for the industry but one that would give the union immediate gratification without the need for an initiative process that takes two election cycles.
But, sources report, the teachers are not waiting to see if the Strip lords can get their manor in order. They have handed out assignments this week to various operatives, some of whom have the unenviable task of driving into rural Nevada, where the gamers have tried to squelch the petition gathering, and deliver the signatures to the appropriate clerks for verification.
The industry also has a hyperbolic ad running in Reno that accuses the petition-backers of caring about everything but students — no one said the gamers would play patty-cake to stop this large increase. But if they can’t erase the petition by killing it in rural Nevada, and if they can’t get the state Supreme Court to throw it off the ballot, the casino chieftains will discover just how much sympathy Nevadans have for them during a recession.