Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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The Policy Racket


Democrats boost Marshall campaign to turn congressional district blue

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Kate Marshall

On Monday morning, Kate Marshall’s campaign to fill Nevada’s empty 2nd Congressional District seat proudly announced the state treasurer had raised $75,000 so far in her electoral bid.

That’s almost quaint, given how she spent the rest of the day in D.C.

Marshall got the Harry Reid helping hand on a tour of D.C. in which she met with other lawmakers, but more importantly, lobbyists, in a bid to drum up national interest in her campaign and national dollars for her campaign.

Reid headlined an cocktail-hour reception at the law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf in honor of Marshall, where the required contribution ranged from $500 for individuals to $2,500 for the top-ranked representatives of political action committees.

Those aren’t terribly pricey donations by Washington standards, but they are certainly enough to balloon Marshall’s campaign kitty in a single night.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee -- which also helped sponsor the event, and circulated the invitation among their well-heeled supporters -- has a huge stake in seeing CD-2 go blue.

Democrats have never actually occupied the seat, which belonged to now-Sen. Dean Heller for about the past four years. But despite Republicans’ winning record in the district, it’s actually less of a GOP stronghold than a seat the Democrats recently flipped in New York, also in a replacement race, just last month.

That win got Democrats revved up enough that they decided to announce to national press that the House was in play.

But if they’re going to do that -- which Republicans say is wishful thinking -- they know it’s got to be a family all-in effort.

Reid usually reserves his boosting grace for sitting and would-be senators, and this year especially, he’s got a lot to occupy himself with in that department.

Right in his backyard, incumbent Democratic congresswoman Shelley Berkley is gearing up to face off against incumbent Heller in a race Democrats have identified as their best chance for a pick-up opportunity, and one that many in both parties predict will be the sort of squeaker that could decide whether Reid gets to keep his majority leadership of the Senate.

Reid is also parcelling out political donations, through his campaign committees, to any of the Democratic senators in his caucus coming up for re-election in 2012 that will take it -- which is everybody, save for Washington state’s Maria Cantwell, who has a policy against accepting donations from PACs. His Searchlight Leadership Fund has handed out $5,000 or $10,000 chunks of change to each of 16 senators -- 15 Democrats and Democrat-leaning independent Bernie Sanders -- who are trying to keep their seats in the next election.

Reid gave $10,000 to Marshall earlier this month, the one non-Senate-affiliated candidate or campaign outfit to have received such a cash-infused nod from his Searchlight fund.

Marshall has emerged as the Democrats’ candidate of choice since the end of last month, when perennial Democratic close-but-no-cigar contender Jill Derby decided she would bow out of the race.

While Nevada Regent Nancy Price is still in the contest as a Democrat, Reid and the DCCC teaming up to give Marshall the fete-ing of a formal D.C. introduction indicates not only have the powers that be picked their candidate, but they’re prepared to plow the field to clear her the best possible path to victory.

That includes letting Marshall stand in the clearing they create and take a tack that’s at times, critical of her party. For instance, on the campaign trail, Marshall’s been delivering full-throated speeches declaring the Republicans plan to end Medicare, but has also been openly critical of the Democrats’ health care law, calling it “flawed.” Republicans have criticized this nuance as pure election tactics intended to obscure Marshall’s liberalism.

DCCC chief Steve Israel said, when he announced Democrats intended to campaign for the House, said the winning blueprint for New York’s 26th -- essentially Medicare, Medicare, Medicare -- is something that would “inform” their strategy in other races, not dictate it.

But while there’s plenty of uncertainty about the Nevada race, the structure of which is still pending before the state Supreme Court, it’s pretty clear the same Democrats who are going all-in on linking Republicans to Medicare as a campaign strategy are also going all-in on Marshall to win on that argument, and prove its worth for House and Senate races down the line.

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