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Payback Time: GOP Voters Urged To Vote Democrat

A longtime Republican in Nevada political circles is supporting Democrats in the fall election – and it has nothing to do with Donald Trump.

Steve Sebelius, political commentator for KNPR's State of Nevada, and a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said former Nevada GOP chair Chuck Muth is urging Republicans to vote for some Democrats in the state Legislature.

Why? Punishment.

Some Republicans who voted for Governor Brian Sandoval's budget, including a tax increase to help school funding, had previously vowed not to support tax increases. Sebelius said to Muth and others, voting for a Democrat would be no different now. At the same time, it would send a message to future Republicans to keep their promises.

And polls show Joe Heck with a lead for U.S. Senate over Catherine Cortez Masto. It's very early, with some four months before the general election. But Sebelius said that even with a huge lead in Democratic registered voters, Cortez Masto should be worried.

Then bad blood between Clark County and the city of Las Vegas is getting worse. Funding for Metro is one part of this wobbly relationship. 


The bad blood between Clark County and the city of Las Vegas appears to be getting worse. The two share the cost for Metro police, 60-40 county to city. The city said it would boost Metro’s funding with a one-time $400,000 infusion to fight some high-crime issues. The county said it wanted a more permanent solution. It offered $1 million annually, but the city had to add $600,000 or so. But that isn’t going to happen now. Why? 

Support comes from

Sebelius: The county can't by itself put money into Metro's bank account. It has to be done as a joint city-county enterprise. That's just the way it's set up when Metro was created back in 1973. It doesn't allow somebody to come in and just donate that money on the one side without the other side also participating. Remember this is permanent thing going forward. You agree to additional allocations you've always got to be there for that because you've got to pay people year after year after year.

If the city doesn't have its component then the county is not going to be able to put in its component as well. So, you have those two things competing against each other.

Is there a bad guy in this?

Sebelius: You can look around and see a bad guy of your choice. You could say that Steve Sisolak should have voted for the sales tax increase back in the day. It would have been done. You could say Tom Collins, who was kind of a hold out vote in a way. He advocated for a full amount and when he wouldn't get that he refused to support a compromise that was ultimately enacted. You could say he was kind of a bad guy. You could say that the city isn't ponying up permanent funds. You could say city and county could both say 'look public safety is the most important thing we do. If we don't have a safe community, you don't have anything. Right now, we're going through our budgets and we're going to find the money to increase Metro funding to meet the request of the sheriff and be done with it."

On Chuck Muth's support of Democrats:

Sebelius: What I think Chuck Muth is saying here is 'Let's take the long view. We could put our resources behind every person with an 'R' behind their name and they would get re-elected to office and a Republican would hold that seat, but to what end?'

If these Republicans, when it comes to an issue like taxes, which is very controversial, are going to vote like they're Democrats then what's the point of electing Republicans in the first place? If we punish those Republicans who voted in a way we don't like, by supporting their Democratic opponents and making sure they get out of office all future Republicans will look back and say, 'Remember the great purge of 2016, when Republican either didn't run because they didn't want to face the voters or they did run and they lost or we supported their Democratic opponents and made it harder for them to win.

It's definitely a hard-nosed strategy. It's a very - almost violent - political strategy, but it may yet be effective. 

On the Senate race:

Sebelius: No poll taken more than two weeks out from election day is useful for anything in terms of predicting the eventual outcome of the race. 

It is just a snapshot in time and shows you where things are going as part of a trend. I always say that because a lot of times we in the media, it's like cat nip. You see the latest poll numbers and you see somebody is down or up. It doesn't really matter this far out.

I do believe there is an advantage for Joe Heck. Even though Democrats have registered 70,000 more voters than Republicans and even though the trend... shows they are registering voters in all the right places to ensure that they take over the Assembly and the Senate all of those things being equal. I still think Joe Heck has an advantage for the following reasons: Number 1: He represents Southern Nevada which is going to be key in terms of anybody's victory whether it's Catherine Cortez Masto or Joe Heck.

Number 2: He is going to go wildfire in the rurals. They're going to support Joe Heck, a physician, a brigadier general in the Army Reserves, a conservative, Republican congressman. He's going to have those rural areas as well.

Now, on her side: Catherine Cortez Masto has history. She would be the first Latina senator if she is elected. She may have help at the top of the ticket although the presidential election dynamics are always changing.  

Joe Heck has Donald Trump to contend with so that is a big negative in terms of his race.


Steve Sebelius, Review-Journal columnist; host, "Politics NOW," KLAS-TV

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KNPR's State of Nevada