Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2018

Currently: 49° — Complete forecast

Sun editorial:

Nevada Republicans’ attitude about California is damaging to our state

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Jason Bean / The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP

Kellyanne Conway, left, laughs with Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt during the 4th annual Basque Fry at the Corley Ranch in Gardnerville. on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2018.

We can’t believe this has become necessary, but today the Sun would like to express gratitude to Tesla, Apple, Google, eBay and other California-based companies that have chosen to expand into Nevada. We’d also like to thank the hundreds of thousands of transplanted Californians who are living here, and the millions who visit our state every year.

This message of support comes after conservative Republicans treated California like garbage over the weekend at Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s annual Basque Days event, where speakers portrayed our neighboring state as an existential threat to Nevada.

One featured guest, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Dana Loesch, called Californians “a scourge” who are “bringing their socialist values with them” when they come to Nevada. Assemblyman Jim Wheeler said Nevada was in danger of being turned into “Nevada-fornia,” and congressional candidate Cresent Hardy warned that Nevada would become “East California” unless Republicans turn out to support the party’s candidates this fall.

And so it went. The theme of the event might as well have been, “Californians: Go home and stay out.”

This was not only biting the hand that feeds, it was gnawing it to the bone.

Keep in mind that the event, staged in Gardnerville, was less than 60 miles from the massive Tesla plant and sites of massive data center projects by Apple, Google and eBay. Gov. Brian Sandoval and other state officials worked hard to attract those companies, which have helped drive an economic boon in the very region of the state where the Basque Days speakers spent a sunny Saturday afternoon pounding on California.

The rhetoric might have played well to the GOP crowd, but it didn’t suit Nevada’s best interests. It’s hard to imagine the speakers saying such things directly to Elon Musk, or to top executives from other major companies that have chosen Nevada as an expansion site.

Speakers said Laxalt would protect Nevada from California’s influence and that his Democratic rival in the governor’s race, Steve Sisolak, would not.

But if dissuading economic development is a form of protection, no thanks. Same goes for creating an extremist right-wing political climate that would make it uncomfortable for moderate or progressive Californians to move here.

In Las Vegas, Californians have enriched our community not only by contributing to our economy but also by helping us become more culturally and politically diverse — the same as our newcomers from other states and other nations.

As a result, they’ve helped Clark County become the economic driver of the state. Regardless of where Nevada politicians live, they should remember that.

Then again, not everyone in state leadership seems to appreciate Las Vegas’ contribution. Wheeler, during a videotaped appearance in 2015, told a group that he supported trying to “make Clark County into its own state, or better yet a district,” like the District of Columbia. Further, Wheeler said he had proposed a swap with a California legislator — Las Vegas for territory near Lake Tahoe.

Let’s make this crystal clear: If Wheeler or anyone else doesn’t want businesses the likes of Apple and Google here, they should stand aside and let us welcome them here in Southern Nevada. Same goes for residents who are attracted by our relatively low cost of living and our job opportunities.

The tax dollars that Californian tourists and transplants pay here are critical throughout the state, including in Wheeler’s district.

Meanwhile, voters should seriously question whether Laxalt, by condoning the comments of the Basque Day speakers, has disqualified himself from the governorship. How in the world can he seek to attract businesses and tourists from outside the state when he endorses this kind of venom to people outside of Nevada? How can he engage our region’s neighbors with policy goals and rhetoric like this?

The comments represented another escalation in the GOP’s politics of division. In the party’s mind, Mexicans, Canadians, members of the European Union, people from the Muslim Middle East and individuals from poor countries are all to be viewed with derision and suspicion. Now, Laxalt’s proxies want to extend the politics of division to spewing hatred about other Americans.

It’s disgraceful.

Simply put, trashing California is bad business for Nevada.

Come November, voters should remember who is truly trying to protect the state’s interests.