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Ralston And Sebelius: Trump And Recreational Pot Lead In Polls

New polls show Donald Trump is leading in Nevada, and that voters here are leaning toward legalizing recreational pot.

Meanwhile, Congressman Crescent Hardy missteps in West Las Vegas, Republicans accuse Catherine Cortez Masto of going on junkets while Joe Heck served in the military, and Rep. Mark Amodei is tapped as Trump's Nevada state chairman.

We’ll talk about those issues and others with our political analysts Jon Ralston and Steve Sebelius.


 A Fox News poll shows Donald Trump beating Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, Ohio and Nevada. It says he has a three point advantage here. Does that mean anything at this point?

Ralston: Not really. The race is close. As usual, there are problems with the internals of any of these polls. Even though people will say Fox News is obviously biased. Fox News has an independent polling operation that is run by a Republican and Democratic firm.

But the assumption in the poll is that the turnout is going to be equal among Republican and Democratic voters, which I do not think is going to happen. That would be a tremendous turnout disadvantage for the Democrats who have an almost six point lead now in registration.

Support comes from

Sebelius: Despite our shared girth, I don’t want to look like Karl Rove did in 2012 as Megyn Kelly goes down to the polling center to prove me wrong and I’m sitting there saying, ‘I can’t believe Ohio is doing this!’

I’m skeptical of the utility of any poll to predict the outcome when it is more than two weeks before Election Day. They can show you trends though. What is interesting is that it is so close. In not just this survey but in other surveys. You would expect it to be a little farther apart because I agree with Jon, I think the Democratic registration advantage and Hillary Clinton’s turnout advantage gives her a shot.

Another poll shows that voters are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. I’m wondering who is likely to support this.

Sebelius: I was actually surprised by this poll, because you had a 53 to 39 percent margin saying they approve it. And I think this one is going to be very close. 

Of any of the initiatives, I think this one might have the largest chance of failing.

Ralston: I’m not surprised by the 53 percent number. It has had a slight advantage for a while. The fact that they could only get 39 percent that they were against it surprised me. This dynamic may change soon. ‘No’ forces have not only gotten organized but they now have some money apparently. They’re not disclosing their donors until the deadline.

But my guess is Sheldon Adelson has gotten involved in this and we’ll find out after disclosures are made. If they spend enough money, I believe they will be able to beat it.

The latest attack against Catherine Cortez Masto is that while Joe Heck was fighting for the country Cortez Masto was taking junkets with lobbyists.

Ralston: They’re going to have a problem running against Catherine Cortez Masto – Republicans that is – because she doesn’t have a congressional record like Joe Heck where you can make seem like he hates old ladies and young women, which is basically what their campaign has been. The cookie cutter Democratic campaign.

So they had to find stuff that she did during her AG’s tenure none of which was that well publicized or well-known and so they’ve come up with guardianship. They’ve come up with the drunk driver issue and they’ve come up with the fact that she traveled to go to conferences.

This contrast they’re trying to draw between Joe Heck having been a soldier, having been in combat, helping heal heroes as opposed to her being out there on the beach, of course it’s a caricature, but considering that she is not that well known and nobody knows that much about her record as AG.

I think it has the potential to be effective but I think there are so many ads now in this U.S. Senate race that at some point this just becomes noise and it’s all about the campaigns and who can their people to the polls.

Sebelius: I have to say of all the ads that I have seen the Joe Heck biographical spots, the pro-Joe Heck ads that are being put out by his campaign are probably the best I have seen in 30 years of covering politics. His ads are pitch perfect.

The latest one. The contrast between him being a soldier and Catherine Cortez Masto, I think that goes a little bit too far, especially the tag line: ‘Some people give and other people take’ as if Catherine Cortez Masto was only elected to live large off the taxpayer dime.

I actually didn’t realize it at the time but I actually attended one of these lavish junkets with Catherine Cortez Masto back in I think it was 2014. The State Bar of Nevada had their convention in Newport Beach… I heard her full presentation about sex trafficking. Trust me it was not a junket. There was actual real work being done.   

On KNPR’s State of Nevada Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson said that if the stadium project does go to a special session that he expects “a positive outcome.” Is that the way you see this?

 Ralston: It is not a done deal yet. But the governor wouldn’t have called a special session if he didn’t think he could get the votes. The governor says he supports it. Most Republicans support it, but the Democrats are not on board. Some Democrats have made critical statements about this. They need two-thirds, which means they need a handful of Democrats in both houses to make sure that this passes.   

I think it is too early to predict. If I had to predict, I would say it was going to pass but it will really depend mostly on what the Democrats decide to do.  

There are some Democrats in the base and in the elected officials who are saying ‘why should we vote for $750 million in public money to help a guy who has dedicated himself, I’m speaking of Sheldon Adelson, to destroying us.’ Who has just contributed $45 million to national Republicans to try to help Republicans take over Congress and help Donald Trump become president and who, in past, has made huge contributions to Republicans on the state level and legislative level, although he has contributed to some Democrats this cycle, why should they help him?   


Jon Ralston, journalist, Reno Gazette-Journal and KTNV; Steve Sebelius, journalist, Las Vegas Review-Journal and KLAS.

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