Las Vegas Sun

February 26, 2024

Jon Ralston makes 2010 predictions, since ’09 went so well

I am honored today to accept induction into the Pundits Hall of Fame.

Oh, I know what you are thinking: This is the equivalent of President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, that I am accepting an honor for which I am not yet worthy, that I have done nothing to deserve this award.

How wrong you would be. If not for years of achievement, an Irving Thalberg-like bestowal, then for last year’s nonpareil showing for yearly oracular pronouncements, which was no Looking Glass-performance, fine and deserving of a brandy toast as it was.

Consider that your favorite pundit foretold of more change in a governor’s budget than ever by the Gang of 63, which I predicted would add 10 percent (it even went higher) to the executive package. I also correctly said the final tax package would consist of “an increase in the payroll tax and some other tax/fee gimmickry,” which was downright Delphic. And I said the governor would veto the budget and be overridden.

I predicted Stavros Anthony’s victory over Glenn Trowbridge in that contested City Council seat (and Anthony won by 10 votes). I said Shari Buck would win the North Las Vegas mayoralty. And I forecast that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would have $10 million in the bank, which will be very close, I’d guess. (I also said Reid would “look formidable,” which is in pundit argot known as being “slightly off.”)

I also predicted that a gaming company would go bankrupt (sorry, Station) and that several high-level Gibbons Lack of Administration officials would leave. And in one near fantasy-come-true, I predicted Brian Sandoval would leave the federal bench to run for the U.S. Senate. I was half-right; I just had the wrong race.

After such a year, I should probably do what Michael Jordan did not and leave on top. I know, I know: Many of you wish I would, too.

But 50 is the new 30, and I am just getting started. Yes, I know I can be held accountable for these predictions But like any good pundit, I reserve the right to change these as the year progresses (and surely will).

The Locks

Sandoval will win the GOP nomination for governor. But he will have to go through Gov. Jim Gibbons, who will put up a spirited battle (although I still say there is a 25 percent chance he doesn’t file) before succumbing.

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, after squeezing every possible media drop out of his Hamlet act on running for governor, will opt not to file as an independent candidate. (But maybe I am putting this here because I hope he will just to prove me wrong.)

The Republicans will hold a majority of the constitutional offices after the election. Which ones? Wait, my crystal ball is getting hazy. I’ll get back to you.

Reps. Shelley Berkley and Dean Heller will easily win re-election, and County Commissioner Rory Reid will win the Democratic nomination for governor. (Yes, this is Pundit Average padding.)

The Probables

I agree with what Heller has been telling groups: Harry Reid has a history of winning close races that he should not win (see 1998 vs. John Ensign) and while this one will be uncertain until (and maybe beyond) Election Day, Searchlight will have to wait for its (sometime) favorite son to come home.

Sandoval will defeat Reid the Younger to succeed Gibbons. The race will be much closer than polls show. Reid the Elder will defeat Sue Lowden, who will somehow emerge from that crowded GOP primary despite stiff challenges from Sharron Angle, Danny Tarkanian and John Chachas. (If I were having an “Upset Special,” I would pick Angle here.)

Rep. Dina Titus will find a way to hold on against ex-state Sen. Joe Heck even though the national GOP will target the race. The Democrats will hold onto the state Senate but lose their veto-proof majority in the Assembly. I also see school board veteran Mary Beth Scow winning that spirited primary for Rory Reid’s County Commission seat.

The Fantasies

A candidate for governor will present a substantive plan to deal with the state’s looming $2 billion-plus deficit. It will include reducing the annual DMV registration fee to a flat $50 for everyone while proposing a broad-based tax that makes sense to make up the difference.

Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson will throw a “We Love CityCenter” party at Aria. Gary Loveman and Donald Trump will be the guests of honor.

A new statewide television program will so outstrip Oprah Winfrey’s ratings that she will reconsider her decision to retire. Instead, she will appear as a guest.

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