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Ralston And Sebelius On The Election, NV Energy And More

Amid low poll numbers, Donald Trump made some major changes to his campaign staff this week.

And yet his running mate Mike Pence told an audience in Henderson that the campaign is doing just fine.

So why are Strip CEOs so hesitant to back him?

We’ll find out.

In other news, NV Energy is not taking a stance on a measure that would break up their monopoly and of course there’s no shortage of stadium updates.


Jon, you talked to Steve Hill of Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and he said he believes there's a chance the developers could share profits with the public if the stadium ends up being publicly funded. You seemed skeptical. Is this a real possibility?

Ralston: I could tell from the interview with Steve Hill that he really wants to push that. He put it in a proposal that he and Jeremy Aguero, the financial advisor to the stadium committee, came up with the argument being, ‘listen if the public is going to have a significant investment in this stadium, why not after a certain return on investment – in this case 9 percent is guaranteed to the developers – why should the developers share in the profits?’

Support comes from

The developers don’t seem to like that idea. But he seemed optimistic that there will be some kind of component.  

This is really interesting because both sides appear to be at loggerheads right now. The developers are not budging from $750 million in public money – room tax – tourist money as the developers like to say.

And Steve Hill and the governor, from what I understand, do not think that’s enough.

Will this happen?

Ralston: It is tough to tell. Generally, I’m not wary about making predictions as you know, but I have to tell you… there are so many hurdles to get over here with the inflexibility of the developers on the public money issue with questions about whether it can get through the Legislature and even more questions about whether the NFL owners would approve it. And don’t forget, they still haven’t settled on a site.

I think it’s 50/50 at best.

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence stopped by Henderson Wednesday. It was his second Nevada appearance this month, and his first appearance in Southern Nevada since the Republican National Convention. Steve, what did he have to say?

Sebelius: It was pretty much his general stump speech. The one part of it that I most enjoyed was when Gov. Pence criticized Hillary Clinton on the basis that she was too close to Wall Street and too close to corporations. He criticized her for voting for the bailout, which was something he voted against, which I thought was amazing, because Pence after all is a Republican. Clinton after all is a Democrat. Here was a Republican leveling a criticism at a Democrat that Bernie Sanders with a little more credibility and moral authority levied against her, during the primary campaign. I thought that was the highlight for me.

MGM CEO Jim Murren, who is a Republican, said he’s cross the aisle to vote for Hillary in this election. Steve Wynn is refusing to back Trump. What are their reasons?

Ralston: I don’t think Murren’s position is that surprising. He was a big supporter of Harry Reid, despite being a Republican. I don’t think anyone will be that shocked that he’s supporting Hillary Clinton. I was a little surprised that he went out and did a big op-ed in USA Today to announce it to the world.

As far as Steve Wynn, Wynn has been all over the map on this whole thing. When Trump originally started going I talked to him and he said he didn’t even really know what his friend Donald Trump was doing, then he went to a rally, then he was listed as a possible advisor to Trump, which he somewhat denied.

Then in a most recent interview, he essentially said he wanted a substantial policy discussion between Clinton and Trump, which he may be waiting quite a while for.    


NV Energy said it’s not choosing sides on deregulation. How could a monopoly not have an opinion on breaking up its own business model? What is this really about?

Ralston: It was very interesting. It was a statement of principles – I think they called it – and they said… ‘We’re going to be neutral on this but here a few things you should know that you should worry about.’ No monopoly willingly gives up being a monopoly. They cannot be thrilled with this. This is clearly a political strategy to try to look like they’re neutral…. Now deregulation of an electricity market is a much more complicated issue than it might seem – just by saying ‘people will get choice and everything will be fine.’ It hasn’t worked that well in other places. What people really want is when they come to their homes to turn on their lights and they go on and when they turn on their A/C, it goes on.

There are ways that deregulation could potentially work but it is fraught with difficulty and there is no way that NV Energy is going to sit on its hands and not be active in this. Not just through what they call education, but I think eventually they will come out and oppose this.

Steve, this week you criticized Sandoval for opposing extended background checks on guns. Why?

Sebelius: The reason he gave for his opposition to the gun background check were fictional and I suspect that he is aware of that fact. As a result of that, I thought he came in for a little bit of criticism. Unfortunately for the governor, he has made it much worse for himself by demonstrating repeatedly he is a reasonable, intelligent person who approaches policy from an evidence-based perspective. And so, having established that reputation he cannot now retreat into talking points and ideology, when it suits him. And in this case, his stated reasons were absolutely false. This does not truncate any freedom for any owner. Background checks are conducted every day in America at every gun store in America. If those are not a truncation of freedom, than private party background checks cannot be by definition. Second, background checks will keep fire arms out of the hands of people who are not allowed to have them. Federal authorities alone have done 1.3 million times – have kept weapons from being legally sold since 1998 for various reasons, including felony convictions, orders of protection being in place dishonorable discharges from the military, mental health adjudications. Those things work. They are effective. Gov. Sandoval is aware of those facts or should be aware of those facts. His opposition disclaiming both of those facts was actually rather shameful I would say and belies his reputation as somebody who is intelligent and approaches policy from an evidence-based perspective.


Jon Ralston, columnist, Reno Gazette Journal and KTNV journalist; Steve Sebelius, columnist, Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist and host of Politics Now on KLAS.

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