I confess I’ve never found Nevada’s north-south split as fascinating as its most spirited participants seem to think it is.
Don’t get me wrong. I suggested back in 2011 (and not for the first or last time) that Clark County should secede from the state. Though the rest of Nevada would be deprived of its current, generous share of state revenue generated by Southern Nevada industry and taxpayers, the remaining, Las Vegas-less Nevada could pay for its university and social services and infrastructure and such with all the money that it would get from mining taxes, I used to joke. The thought horrified Northern Nevadans, because they more than anyone know just how little the mining industry pays in taxes.
Today a Las Vegas-less state would likely fare much better, what with Google and Tesla and Switch and all the other fancy pants techy-techy folk who’ve hung out a shingle in Storey County. Of course, policies might have to change if the abandoned, remnant state of non-Southern Nevada still wanted to have a government and schools and stuff. Those companies would have to start paying the state, instead of the state paying them.
But I digress…
It is one thing for me, a person who, as any fool can see, speaks for no one, to mock Northern Nevadans. It’s just good clean fun.
It is another thing altogether for a candidate seeking statewide office to even acknowledge the north-south split out loud, let alone warn that one side is good and the other bad, lest, in the course of unduly sucking up to one end of the state, the candidate angers the other. Throughout his governorship, Brian Sandoval’s most beloved social media hashtags have been #AllNevada and #OneNevada (the concept, not the credit union). Because whatever else Sandoval may or may not be, he is not an idiot.
Adam Laxalt is different.
Quoting a favorable letter to the editor that ran in the Elko Daily Free Press last week, Laxalt showed where his allegiance lies:
"In short, a vote for Steve Sisolak is a vote for southern domination of Nevada State government! And almost inevitably a loss of voice and say to Northern Nevada and to the detriment of any regional major policy political or even economic concerns…
— Adam Paul Laxalt (@AdamLaxalt) October 27, 2018
Laxalt moved to Nevada from the Washington, D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Virginia only seven years ago (coincidentally, the same time I was suggesting Southern Nevada should secede from the state). Perhaps he doesn’t know that Southern Nevada programs and institutions historically have gotten stuck with the short-end of the stick. A Nevada newcomer, Laxalt may have no idea that historically, entrenched powerful Northern Nevada politicians have been delighted to make Southern Nevada finance Northern Nevada projects and institutions, while treating Southern Nevada with malign neglect.
Many Southern Nevadans who have been in the state longer than Laxalt (which is to say very nearly all of them over the age of 7) — including some Republican ones — will have little use for a candidate for governor who warns about “southern domination of Nevada State government!”
You’d think someone on Laxalt’s campaign might have explained all this to him before allowing a tweet to go out under his name sounding the alarm about the terrible threat posed by those evil people in the greater Las Vegas metropolitan statistical area.
You’d also think that someone on his campaign might have told Laxalt that choosing the north and dissing the south could not only be problematic for the election, which is still a week away. It could also jeopardize his agenda if he wins and becomes governor (painful phrase to write), by souring whatever relationship he hopes to build with Southern Nevada lawmakers, of whom he’ll need at least a few if he wants to pass anything.
The irony is that if Northern Nevadans truly fear “southern domination” of Nevada state government, Laxalt offers them scant salvation. Laxalt already submitted to “southern domination,” by virtue of eagerly allowing himself to become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sheldon Adelson — of the Las Vegas Adelsons.
Hey, wait a minute. Maybe that’s why Laxalt feels compelled to risk alienating Southern Nevada by swearing fealty to Northern Nevada. Maybe Laxalt fears that Northern Nevadans have got his number, that they know once Adelson finally has a fully subservient, obedient, house-trained pet on the end of a leash in the governor’s mansion, the state will start funneling more money to Southern Nevada for infrastructure and education and social services, because all those things would be good for Adelson’s employees and, hence, Adelson’s interests. Laxalt is probably worried that Northern Nevadans do fear having a governor that is wholly controlled by a Southern Nevadan, and what’s more, that they know that governor would be none other than Adam Laxalt.
Ha just kidding. Laxalt, like any new kid, is probably just trying to do whatever he can to fit in, and make all those Republicans in counties outside Clark and Washoe think he’s one of them, that he’s a “real” Nevadan. After all, members of his own family, and Sandoval for that matter, clearly think otherwise.