When I withdrew from the Republican party earlier this year, I knew I wouldn’t be able to vote in the primary election, and I decided to publish recommendations for as many offices on that ballot as I could, to still do my part in the process. These recommendations are from a very traditionally conservative mindset, fiscally and socially, which means more like Russell Kirk and William F. Buckley than like the current neocons or populists, such as Donald Trump, about whom I’m very skeptical. For each candidate, I tried to find and survey their website, social media, YouTube, and any local media mentioning them, such as the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In some cases, I also consulted people who would know more about these candidates and issues than I do, though all final endorsements here are solely my own. I welcome any constructive discussion in the comments.
UNITED STATES SENATE
A lot of conservatives are mad at Dean Heller for not supporting a full repeal of Obamacare–I understand that, but I don’t see him as a Trump lackey or as a rabid anti-Trumper. Heller is his own man, who does what he thinks is best for Nevada. I admire that independence. He’s surely done far more good than harm. We should keep him.
Vote for: Dean Heller
REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, DISTRICT 1
Joyce Bentley is an unqualified amateur, and Fred Horne is just a little better, but it hardly matters. Neither one of them stands a chance against either Democratic nominee. Why would anyone agree to be set up as a token sacrifice by the state party like this? It’s just an embarrassing waste. This would be a good place for my regular rant about the local GOP’s consistent failure to find strong people to run for office…
Vote for: Mickey Mouse
REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, DISTRICT 3
Scott Hammond is solidly experienced and qualified, to a degree far above anyone else in this race. I enthusiastically endorse him!
I’ve mentioned before on this blog how much I like Annette Teijeiro, and I wish she’d run for something more realistic. I know a previous primary win must have emboldened her, but a county commission / city council seat would be a much better fit than these statewide races–please, Ms. Teijeiro, focus and develop your political career on smaller races.
I notice that Danny Tarkanian is running for this office as well, so this would be a good time to remind the world that I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher. He’s an obnoxious wanna be, and I hope we can all agree to encourage him to disappear from politics.
Vote for: Scott Hammond
REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, DISTRICT 4
This is another easy one: I’ve always liked Crescent Hardy, and there’s no one else in this race with anywhere near his credentials–certainly, none of his opponents stands a chance of beating either Spearman or Horsford in the general election, so he’s our man.
Vote for: Crescent Hardy
Dan Schwartz has done a brilliant job with state finances, and he may well make a good governor, but the bottom line here is that only Adam Laxalt, with his superior qualifications and public appeal, can beat Sisolak or Chris G. on the other side. Laxalt will likely be an excellent governor, and I can endorse him without reservation.
Jared Fisher’s campaign has caught a lot of attention online, but like Annette Teijeiro, shooting for a major statewide office is biting off more than he can chew. He seems like a great guy, and he should run for something more like a county commission or a city council seat.
Vote for: Adam Laxalt
Michael Roberson is the most serious, mature, qualified candidate here–he wins by default. (Sorry, Brent Jones–you’re a close second, but I don’t care for President Trump, or those who snuggle up to him.)
Vote for: Michael Roberson
SECRETARY OF STATE
Not only has Barbara Cegavske done a fine job, her opponent here may as well be invisible.
Vote for: Barbara Cegavske
Derek Uehara seems like a great guy, but Bob Beers has far superior experience and qualifications here.
Vote for: Bob Beers
Craig Mueller may be a great attorney, but Wes Duncan has an even more solid and professionally diverse background, with an array of impressive qualifications (dude was a JAG!). He’ll make an excellent attorney general.
Vote for: Wes Duncan
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 8
A few good choices here, and I really like Dan Rodimer and wish him well in a future political career, but the nod here obviously has to go to the supremely qualified Valerie Weber.
Vote for: Valerie Weber
STATE SENATE DISTRICT 20
I’m starting to eat my words from that earlier rant about not having enough quality candidates around here, because this race also has two really good men vying for it. Byron Brooks is clearly solid and could have a promising future ahead of him in public service, but Keith Pickard edges him out with an even stronger history of service and achievement on his resume.
Vote for: Keith Pickard
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 2
An easy one. Jim Small uses a lot of puns on his website, so let me add another: he might be a great man with potential to be a good leader, but he’s a small time candidate running against a proven, popular, effective conservative. That being said, the socially liberal group Nevada Impact says that Hambrick is “supportive on trans issues.” That’s worrisome–I don’t see in his voting record where that comes from, but there’s a big red flag to keep an eye on. Still…
Vote for: John Hambrick
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 4
I just don’t understand why some people run for office. There are two challengers to the incumbent in this office, and they both seem like great men with potential to be great civic leaders, but neither even tries to make a case that they’re better than the very popular, successful, verifiable conservative who is practically a shoo-in in the general election.
Vote for: Richard McArthur
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 5
If I try to find information on a candidate online and can’t, that’s a failure on the part of the candidate–it’s their job to reach out effectively and inform the public. If they can’t do that, how can they be qualified to lead? Such is the case with Jason Burke–when I searched for information about him, all I found was material about his “Hangover Heaven” medical practice. That’s nice. Enjoy that, Dr. Burke.
Mack Miller, on the other hand, seems far more qualified and competent. He gets my endorsement here without hesitation.
Vote for: Mack Miller
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 9
Linda Cannon seems pretty solid here, but she gets the nod automatically as Barry Keller can hardly seem to be bothered with campaigning at all.
Vote for: Linda Cannon
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 13
Steve Sanson may have the chops for this, but from a variety of sources online, comes across as divisively controversial (here and here, for example) or weird (he wants to create jury trials in family court?–even as someone who has been through family court plenty of times and lost more than once, I think that is an awful idea), and James Kemp must have decided not to campaign at all, at least not in any way that I can find. Luckily, Air Force and Metro police veteran Tom Roberts is clearly a solid choice here.
Vote for: Tom Roberts
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 18
Neither of these two guys looks very impressive, but it doesn’t matter, since neither has a snowball’s chance of beating the Democrat in the general election.
Vote for: flip a coin–it doesn’t matter at all
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 21
District 21 has the same problem as district 18: two well meaning but under-qualified challengers are putting themselves out there, though neither is remotely likely to beat the Democrat incumbent in a heavily Democratic area. They both have pleasant platforms, but neither seems versed enough in specifics to realize that vision. Same recommendation goes for this race as for the one above it.
Vote for: flip a coin–it doesn’t matter at all
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 22
Both candidates have impressive professional backgrounds, but Hardy’s is better tailored for this position, plus her approach to the campaign is much more polished. (Contrast that with Bunce’s website, where he is endorsed by a photo of perennial loser Danny Tarkanian standing in front of a cardboard cutout of Donald Trump.)
Vote for: Melissa Hardy
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 23
Again, both candidates here are more than decent, but Leavitt’s history of public service puts him a bit ahead here for me (though Matt McCarthy is clearly a good man and candidate, and I wish him well).
Vote for: Glen Leavitt
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 34
Yet another race where both options are…OK. Both have mostly generic things to say. Note to all candidates: anyone can mouth bland platitudes, but the person with the clearer vision of enacting those ideals will win. Wesen barely edges out Laurie because of her slightly more practical ideas. Winning this district will be tough, though, and she’ll have to up her game to do it.
As an aside, kudos to each of these two for correctly noting in their answers to the R-J survey that our legislature meets every two years, not twice a year, even though the R-J mistakenly used the word “biannual” in their survey, instead of the correct “biennial.” It’s crazy to see how many other candidates apparently don’t know how often our lawmakers meet!
Vote for: Janice Wesen
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 35
This one’s hard–Jones has a more detailed platform, though Schoen’s is also pretty good–but Jones makes a big deal about being a part of President Trump’s political circle, and I’m very wary of Trump cronies. Still, I don’t expect that Nevada State Assembly District 35 is going to get us into war with North Korea. Jones has more business experience vs. Schoen, who has more legal experience, but his roster of endorsements is one of the most impressive I’ve seen this year–that’s a who’s who of winners right there! I think both have a solid chance of winning in the general election, so I’m going to defer to Schoen here–Jones may be tighter with the “Veterans in Politics” crowd, but Schoen actually is a veteran. As I said, this is a tight race, but…
Vote for: David Schoen
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 36
An easy one. Incumbent James Oscarson has done a solid job in his district, and will most surely win the general election. As for his opponents in this primary: Dr. Bradley has interesting ideas, but his limited focus makes him appear to have political tunnel vision, and Dennis Hof is…Dennis Hof.
Vote for: James Oscarson
COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT E
Neither of these two are very impressive. Information was hard to find, and they both have losing records in past elections. I actually looked up the two Democrat options for this race, and they both come across as far more professional. I guess the local GOP didn’t believe in this seat enough to put up any heavy hitters.
Vote for: doesn’t matter
COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT F
This choice is EASY. Tisha Black is a mature professional who can clearly reach across the aisle. Though her campaign is light on specifics, she has the kind of experience and prowess (fundraising an impressive amount!) that will get results. Mitchell Tracy, on the other hand, comes across as an amateur blowhard who desperately wants to link himself to Trump and even Ronald Reagan, with no apparent connection or plan (though he wants to “get free parking for local residents at casinos”). Also, Bunce uses a big block of space on the home page of his web site to attack Black. The candidate who slings more mud just looks dirtier to me.
Vote for: Tisha Black
COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT G
Another easy choice. Cindy Lake comes across as a solidly reliable conservative with clear and practical ideas, and her opponent is completely invisible, so…
Vote for: Cindy Lake
A fairly easy choice–Jayson Paretts is all but invisible, and Jill MacFarlane is, for some reason, endorsed by the SEIU and Nevada Impact, which is a big red flag. John Moore, on the other hand, is a veteran with effective government experience.
Vote for: John Moore
Ron Quilang is an officer for the Veterans in Politics group, but hasn’t done a posted interview with them online, even though others running for office in the group have (like Steve Sanson), and although his opponent Phil Collins has, and represented himself very well. Quilang posted videos for failed runs in previous years, but not now. I find that odd. In fact, Quilang barely seems to be campaigning at all.
Vote for: Phil Collins
Aaron Manfredi seems impressive on his website, and I even found some old reviews of his teaching that are pretty impressive (here and here), but…the reports of his troubles with the law are distressing. Maybe like Michael Jackson, even if he’s innocent, he’s still guilty of unwisely putting himself in compromising positions. Also, he commits the sin of advertising qualifications that have nothing to do with this job. His opponent, Thomas Fougere, however, comes across as less polished, but more qualified. Here’s a good chance to vote for substance over appearance.
Vote for: Thomas Fougere
CONSTABLE, NORTH LAS VEGAS TOWNSHIP
Jimmy Vega is a veteran and a law enforcement professional with tons of experience…Travis Roundy has been a Scoutmaster and his dad has a school named after him. Vega has a long roster of major endorsements…the endorsements page on Roundy’s web site says “coming soon.” Vega gave impressive answers to the Review-Journal‘s survey…Roundy didn’t answer at all.
Vote for: Jimmy Vega
JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT SEAT C
Jerry Tao is by far the most experienced and qualified candidate, and where others may see cynical manipulation in his switch from Democrat to nonpartisan recently, I see someone who has across-the-board appeal who is trying to reach out to all. He is also endorsed by solid conservatives not likely to be bamboozled.
Vote for: Jerry Tao
REGENT, STATE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT 1
There are some amusing missteps and some odd mysteries from some candidates here, but to be brief: David Olson is obviously and by far the best candidate for this office. He has experience, acumen, and vision.
Vote for: David Olson
REGENT, STATE UNIVERSITY DISTRICT 12
A cautionary tale: the only thing I could find at all about T. Rao Coca was a short blurb here and his survey answers here, and he actually sounds like a great man with potential for public office. But why is that the only material I could find about him online? If you can’t be bothered to inform and persuade me, I can’t be bothered to vote for you.
This is why, even though he’s a respected educator, I can’t endorse Bob Gutschick.
Andrew Coates and Amy Carvalho both seem pretty qualified, but Coates has a solid grade from the NRA as a Republican from a previous campaign, whereas Amy Carvalho has an endorsement from the socially radical group Nevada Impact, so…
Vote for: Andrew Coates
TRUSTEE, CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT D
Ugh, what a dumpster fire this one is. Incumbent Kevin Child is notorious as an aggressive menace at schools, and needs to lose his seat–you can’t govern areas when you’ve literally been banned from them. Irene Cepeda wants weighted funding and gets a nod of approval from Nevada Impact, which conjures scary visions of more LGBT battles on our already politicized campuses. Leobardo Martinez, it seems, can’t be bothered with campaigning. Eli Thompson is a kid with a hipster neck beard.
Child will probably win again–he’s oddly popular in his area–but Cepeda may be the least bad choice here. I don’t like her positions, but at least she’s mature and qualified, which is more than I can say for her three opponents.
Vote for: Homer Simpson
TRUSTEE, CLARK COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT F
How do we narrow down a field of nine candidates? No problem! Eady, Ford, and Miller are all obviously Democrats, as their county party lists them as such.
Gardner may have had merit, but he dropped out of the race, then endorsing Trumbull in his place…but the only things I can find about her online are the quotes she gave in that article about Gardner dropping out. I don’t endorse invisible candidates…which is why I also can’t endorse Musemici or Wilson.
Mary Ballinger seems like a wonderful woman–a credit to our community–but her ideas are too vague to make her viable.
That leaves Mike Thomas, and luckily, I like what I see. He’s involved, experienced, and serious. He even supports a forensic audit of the district, which anyone who really wants to help CCSD supports, regardless of politics.
Vote for: Mike Thomas
This race is such a joke. The only possible challenges to the incumbent come from Tim Bedwell, who may be a great man, but who has zero chance of going to the head of Metro as an agitator from the outside, or Gordon Martines, a frequent loser in this race whose first of ten reasons to vote for him says that he is willing to break the law. Anyway, Lombardo has a decently solid record as top cop, and he’s so far ahead in the public eye that I predict a big enough win in the primary that being on the general ballot in November won’t even be necessary.
Vote for: Joe Lombardo
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, LAS VEGAS TOWNSHIP, DEPARTMENT 1
This is an easy one–Vinny Ginn doesn’t bother to campaign seriously, and the under-experienced Elana Graham is endorsed by the socially radical Nevada Impact group, so the proven experience of James Dean Leavitt wins here pretty quickly.
Vote for: James Dean Leavitt
JUSTICE OF THE PEACE, LAS VEGAS TOWNSHIP, DEPARTMENT 15
From a socially conservative standpoint, Robert Kurth is obviously and by far the most sane choice here–endorsed with no hesitation!
Vote for: Robert Kurth
Ten lessons for all future candidates
- YOU HAVE TO CAMPAIGN! Make videos, use social media, network with other candidates, do interviews, reach out to every possible platform, go to every event and meeting, seek out every endorsement. Why wouldn’t you do this? Don’t you want to win?
- Do NOT make a big deal about how you were in your homeowners association, or your kid’s PTA, or were a cub scout leader. Nobody cares about the small potatoes stuff we all do. None of that qualifies you for any office like these. Bragging about common, easy things just makes you look bad.
- Listen, Republicans: ALL of you are successful small business owners. We get it. *yawn* Unless the office you’re running for is Chief of Successful Small Business Owners, it doesn’t really matter.
- You need to set yourself apart! HOW are you different from your opponents? WHY are you better than the incumbent? (But that’s not the same as saying that the other person is bad, just that you’re better.)
- PLEASE don’t just post the same few popular clichés (“I’ll defend your rights!” “I believe in the Constitution!” “I’ll stop those liberals!”) and assume that that’s good enough to persuade anybody.
- Do NOT make your tagline “Make [area of your office] Great Again!” Politics aside, it’s tacky, obvious, and empty. Think for yourself.
- For the love of all that’s holy, SPELL CHECK your public messages! Do not put out anything that has basic mistakes. Right now, I will offer my very affordable service as an English teacher to any conservative candidate for office: I won’t craft rhetoric–I’m not your speechwriter–but I will gladly proofread your materials before you publish them. Lord knows someone has to. You’re embarrassing us.
- Do not try to pose as a radical maverick at war with “the system.” That works so rarely, the fact that you think it’s a good strategy already makes me question your leadership skills.
- Do not bite off more than you can chew. So you’re an attractive young assistant manager with an associate’s degree and ambition. That’s great, but you should not run for the senate. Yet.
- PLEASE do all you can to find and support other quality, qualified candidates. It’s always sad seeing how much we beclown ourselves every two years around here. If we want our values to be taken seriously, we need to be serious.