Is Ruben Kihuen Planning A Comeback?


Associated Press

They say there are few second acts in American politics, but is Ruben Kihuen trying to have one?

The embattled congressman from Nevada's fourth congressional district said he was retiring this term after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment.

But now, Jon Ralston says the incumbent is sounding out a potential re-election campaign.

"I think he's delusional," Ralston told State of Nevada.

Ralston said supporters of Kihuen could be telling him that everything has blown over and the story is out of the public eye. But the political analyst said Kihuen is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

"They may be less inclined to move forward with alacrity if he's retired, but if he's running you can be sure they'll do something," he said.

In addition, Ralston believes if Kihuen files, there is a possibility more women would come forward with accusations. 

Plus, Ralston says it is unlikely that some of the establishment Democrats and the Democratic-leaning organizations, like the Culinary Union, will support Kihuen's bid.

"There are very few in the Democratic establishment who think that Ruben Kihuen running now is a good idea," he said.

Support comes from

Ralston also believes that Steve Horsford and Patricia Spearman, two Democrats who have expressed interest in running for Kihuen's seat, are furious that Kihuen might run for re-election.

Another race that could be interesting this election cycle is the one for the Republican ticket in Nevada's Congressional District 3.

The three big names in that race, according to Ralston, are Scott Hammond, who is considered more moderate; Victoria Seaman, who is more conservative; and Michelle Mortensen, a former consumer reporter for KLAS-TV Channel 8 in Las Vegas. 

Ralston said Mortensen has not run for or held office before, so it is unclear where exactly she stands on issues. But he doesn't like the comments she has made bashing the media -- when the only reason why people know her name is she was in the media.

"Is she a real conservative? I have no idea," Ralston said. "She's never run for office before. She's said nothing so far -- done nothing so far to make anyone believe she has anything but a name -- but could that be enough to win on a multi-candidate field in a low-voter turnout primary? Sure."

As the candidates for Congressional office begin to square off, the statewide races are well underway.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Sisolak released his educational plan last week. Ralston was not a fan of the plan, mainly because he didn't think it offered anything really new in it and he believed it showed a lack of understanding of some of the basic principals of education & education funding in the state.

But Ralston believes Sisolak has to show he a substantive candidate when it comes to education. His main opponent in the Democratic primary -- fellow Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani -- is known for being a voracious education advocate. 

"It is another smart reason for him to put out an education plan, however Swiss cheese it might have been," he said.

While we don't know who will win the nomination yet, there has been speculation around the country there is going to be a Democrat sweep across the country.

While many polling numbers show people would vote for a Democrat if the election were to be held now, Ralston doesn't think they should be overly confident, especially in a traditional swing state like Nevada.

He pointed out that 30 percent of voters aren't registered as a member of either party. And voter registration trends in Nevada are not favoring Democrats, even though there are still more registered Democrats than Republicans in the state.

"Democrats just don't seem to be purring along the way that they did in the days of the Reid Machine," he said. "I don't think there are any good signs out there beyond the national atmospherics for the Democrats in Nevada."


Jon Ralston, The Nevada Independent

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