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Ralston And Sebelius: Gloves Come Off In U.S. Senate Race And More

The gloves have come off and the claws have come out in some of Nevada’s political races, but in others, interesting alliances are being made.

We’ll check in on those, find out why Rachel Maddow compares Donald Trump to late U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran, and we’ll also discuss the legality of reality show “Las Vegas Law."


Let’s start with the Joe Heck and Catherine Cortez Masto senate race. As you’ve said, Steve, the gloves have come off completely. What’s the latest?

Sebelius: It was inevitable that this race was going to get nasty. The surprising thing is that it has gotten nasty so early. Catherine Cortez Masto’s campaign attacking Joe Heck over his votes on Planned Parenthood and Joe Heck’s campaign spending money to field probably one of the most comprehensive websites I’ve seen, collecting what they believe are scandalous pieces of information to attack her. It came really early. I was expecting it to come late September, October but we’re seeing it now at the end of summer. I think that reflects some polling and some nervousness in the Joe Heck camp to make sure that they’re not going to lose any ground.

Ralston: I think that there is some polling that shows that [Joe Heck] is ahead. Pretty much everyone agrees that polling at this point doesn’t tell you a lot, except that the race is relatively close.

Support comes from

Steve is right. You don’t expect this kind of thing until much later in the race. The fact that this is happening now shows, No. 1, the intensity of the race, and No. 2, how important this race really is in the national picture. It may be the seat that decides control of the U.S. Senate. It’s the only seat that the Republicans have a chance to take.

Let’s turn to the Nevada Legislature. State Senator Michael Roberson once hated Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, but now he’s back, touting her candidacy for State Senate District 6. Why the change of heart? Steve?

Sebelius: You’re implying that there’s a change of heart. I think that Michael Roberson’s disdain and antipathy for Victoria Seaman remains as intense as it always was. The real story here as Jon pointed out in his column in the Reno Gazette-Journal is the extent to which Roberson has had to swallow his dislike of Victoria Seaman for one overarching goal, which is to retain the majority in the Legislature.

And so, even though, Victoria Seaman would stab – and I’m speaking metaphorically of course – Michael Roberson not just in the back but in the front without hesitation. He is dedicated to helping her get elected because he sees her as part of the coalition he needs to retain his title as majority leader.

Jon, in your RGJ column you identified a particularly dishonest claim Roberson made in his support of Seaman. What was that statement and why is it dishonest?

Ralston: He made a bunch of dishonest statements. I’m not sure which one you’re referring to. The most dishonest was calling her his 'friend.’ Not only does she despise him, but he has absolutely no respect for her. He said that many times privately during the Legislature to people up there. Don’t forget the caucus, the Senate Republican Caucus, led by Michael Roberson went all out to try to defeat her in the primary. Even going so far as to portray her as some total kook. The bottom line is we see this kind of thing all the time but Roberson is being especially shameless in what he is doing because he is already upset that he lost to Danny Tarkanian, which was an embarrassment for him, and now he’s decided to go back to Carson City but he doesn’t want to go back to Carson City in the minority. He may need Victoria Seaman to win that race … but if she wins, he better be careful of what he wished for.

On "Rachel Maddow" Wednesday, the ghost of Nevada’s late U.S. Sen. Pat McCarran arose. Trump’s campaign manager was talking of Trump’s idea of “extreme vetting” of immigrants. But Maddow said this came up one other time, the brainchild of Pat McCarran. What was that about?

Sebelius: Are we sure this is still his position on the immigration issue? Because honestly Donald Trump has been changing positions every day when it comes to immigration. I, for one, am disappointed. Here you have a man who doubled down, tripled down, quadrupled down, quintupled down on racism and bigotry and now he’s flip-flopped on racism and bigotry and you just can’t trust people in politics.

I wonder what his followers who said, 'finally, someone is talking sense on immigration. You finally have someone who is willing to stand up and say the not politically correct thing and now he’s going to deport all of these illegal immigrants who are taking our jobs.’ I wonder what those people are thinking now when they see this issue playout and they see Donald Trump soften his stance on immigration. I wonder if they’re disappointed and they realize that this whole thing could have been a put-up job, which I don’t think Trump realized how ridiculous some of the proposals he had when it came to immigration when it came to deportation were. I think now some of his supporters are realizing now that there hero, Donald Trump, has feet of clay.

Who is Pat McCarran?

Ralston: He was very xenophobic in addition to being below or maybe just above Joe McCarthy in being anti-communist. The reason Rachel Maddow raised that is the McCarran Act would have done what Donald Trump wants to do provide an ideological test. Pat McCarran was an awful, awful human being. He was anti-immigrant. He was anti-Semite. He was racist. There are lot of people, including myself, who thinks his name does not belong on that airport

This week Steve Wolfson’s reality show “Las Vegas Law” got the green light from the Nevada Supreme Court, despite objections from lawyers. What were those objections? Steve?

Sebelius: There’s a number of issues. Some people say if you follow attorneys around it could violate attorney-client privilege. It could prejudice cases against defendants. The access of cameras in the courtroom is still controversial when it comes to news photographers, just photographers from my station Channel 8, being there. To say nothing of an organization that admits it is entertainment, what they call a docu-drama. It’s not just reporting the news. It’s not a documentary but it’s something that they’re trying to extract some drama out of the court proceedings. I think all of those factors lead a lot of people to be nervous.

How is it different than TV news?

Sebelius: I think they are different from normal TV news cameras in as much as they are trying to create drama, whereas TV news is reporting the news. They’re not adding anything to it. They’re obviously going to show the most dramatic moments but they’re not adding anything to it.


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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