Ruben Kihuen says he won’t run again for Congress after sexual harassment allegations. Who will take his place?
Nevada’s attorney general isn’t taking a stand on potential cuts in federal money for Medicare, even though state staff is begging him to.
And it appears recalls elections are on the way for two Democratic senators. But why are they being recalled? And when will those elections happen?
Jon Ralston, publisher of the Nevada Independent, has covered politics in the state for decades. He joins us to talk about those topics and a lot more.
On the top Democratic contender for Ruben Kihuen's seat:
I think all Democrats - all though they're not all saying this right now - are going to defer to Steve Horsford, the former Congressman, who says he's going to make up his mind after talking with family and friends over the holidays.
He definitely wants to run. There are professional and personal factors. He's doing well in the private sector. He did lose once and he doesn't want to lose again.
Pat Spearman, state senator, wanted the job. Essentially started making calls as soon as the first allegation came out in BuzzFeed. She really wants to run.
The other person who is putting out there saying he wants to run is John Lee, the mayor of Las Vegas, who was closed out of running for Congress once by Harry Reid after saying after he wanted to.
What about Republicans?
You have the interesting dynamic of Stavros Anthony, the Las Vegas city councilman, very interested and announced he's running. And then suddenly, Cresent Hardy the former congressman who pulled off the upset in the last off-year election saying he may want to run again. I've heard he's very close to deciding that he wants to run again. That puts Anthony in a very difficult position. The Democrats would love to see a Republican primary in that district. They have a chance. It's still a left-leaning district but they have a chance.
Staff at the state health insurance exchange have asked Attorney General Adam Laxalt to join a lawsuit that challenges Pres. Trump's decision to end cost-sharing payments for the Affordable Care Act. Laxalt isn't responding:
The head of the Nevada exchange is very concerned about the loss of these cost-sharing payments, which are essentially payments to insurance companies to help subsidize folks. She's very concern about those ending.
She called over to the Attorney General's office about the lawsuit. It's not surprising to me that Adam Laxalt would let ideology trump what his job actually is but that's clearly what's going on here.
What's astonishing about this is not that he would do that... it's that he would have anybody return a phone call or email. How do you treat another state official that way?
Where do the recalls stand for State Senator Nicole Cannazaro and State Senator Joyce Woodhouse?
Both of the [recall efforts] have passed the initial tests, in other words, it appears, they have the qualified signatures. The Democrats have sued in the Woodhouse case and will sue in the Cannazaro case, saying some of these signatures are not real, they're forged, they're people who don't live there.
The key state court issue is going to be whether removals, in other words, people who were persuaded to remove their names from the petition after they had signed it are going to be allowed to be removed by the court.
My guess is that these end up in the State Supreme Court and they will decide if they go forward.
Remember Michael Roberson... has been the guy who started this whole thing as said there will be three recall elections and the State Senate will be back in Republican control by Christmas. Christmas is Monday. There will only be two recall elections and neither will occur by Christmas, so maybe he's talking about Christmas 2018.
The only reason the Republicans have undertaken these recalls is because they have no chance to take back the State Senate in 2018 at the ballot box because all the Democrats are safe.
On Senator Dean Heller and the tax overhaul:
Dean Heller is the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the country. He was all over TV Wednesday smiling, right behind Donald Trump as if he and Donald Trump go way back... Trump has not endorsed in this race. You may remember Trump was not so friendly with Heller during the health care battle in which Heller caused most of his own problems by being all over the map.
This is all about the primary right now for Dean Heller. That is all he cares about. That's why he wanted to be seen with Trump. He was right behind him. There is going to be plenty of pictures he will use in a primary against Danny Tarkanian. They are very worried.
Jon Ralston, publisher and founder, The Nevada Independent
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