Commentary

If a lieutenant governor falls in a forest… 

August 22, 2021 8:16 am

Be very, very quiet. (Photo: Hugh Jackson)

But what if something terrible happens!? Lt. Gov. Kate Marshall finally issued a statement Thursday confirming she will be resigning, er, “transitioning” to a job in the Biden administration. It looks like she’ll be joining what is mostly (wholly?) a political outreach arm of the White House.

Marshall’s statement came days after her pending departure had already been reported by the media, coverage that included Gov. Steve Sisolak saying “oh hey hi Kate see ya,” or words to that effect, even though Marshall herself had yet to say anything. Is that Sisolakian or what?

All this, such as it is, is accompanied by speculation about whether Sisolak will appoint someone (he can but doesn’t have to), and if so who would it be, and who will run for the job in 2022. To which the perfectly rational response from the Nevada citizenry should be: “Who cares?”

Marshall says she’s not bugging out until “late fall.” So we’re good until then, at least. But what if the governor didn’t appoint a replacement after that? And then, what if the governor, just to use a totally hypothetical example, were to get fatally struck by lightning, or perhaps one of Elon’s driverless cars, while Nevada was lieutenant governor-less? Whatever would we do?

Why, Nevada would be forced to revert to its pre-territorial boundaries, of course. That means (if memory serves) most of the state would go back to being Utah, and Southern Nevada would become part of Arizona.

Ha ha just kidding. Probably.

(Actually, if I’m reading this clause of the state constitution correctly [doubtful], it looks as if for any reason the governor couldn’t serve and there was no lieutenant governor on deck, the governor would become — state Sen. Mo Denis? To which I somewhat surprisingly find myself asking “eh, so what?”)

But wouldn’t the state’s priorities and plans be compromised if this vital constitutional office were left vacant?

Oh please.

There is zero (0) reason for the office of Nevada lieutenant governor to exist. To reiterate for the eleven millionth time, it is a part-time job with no inbox. The office could be stripped from the state constitution, replaced with a provision to make, say, the secretary of state second in line, and nobody in the state would know or care. It is arguably the most pointless and irrelevant elected position in this or any other state, and possibly the planet (which is why I’d be great at it).

This is why I was hoping so hard in 2018 that Steve Sisolak would win the governor’s race but Republican Mike Roberson would win the lieutenant governor’s race, because whatever else you may think of Sisolak, you can be assured he would have proven entirely capable and probably even quite skilled at making Roberson utterly irrelevant and totally miserable, and that would have been fun to watch.

As the 2022 campaign cycle revs up, Republicans and Democrats alike are going to pretend that the office of lieutenant governor is something voters should care about. It’s not. If it was, Marshall wouldn’t be leaving a statewide elected office to take an obscure and toothless job with the Biden administration.

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Case in point. Farady Future, whose state-subsidized pipedream went belly up in Nevada, has appointed Brian Krolicki chairman of its newly formed board of directors. Brian who? Exactly.

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One fraud endorses another. Adam Laxalt “fought valiantly against the Election Fraud, which took place in Nevada” Trump wrote in an endorsement statement Friday. Laxalt included that statement in a campaign email Saturday morning touting Trump’s support. In that email, as in his post-election Big Lie media-tour, Laxalt did not provide valid evidence of Trump’s beloved fraud taking place in Nevada. And Laxalt never will, because there isn’t any.

This may be an unpopular opinion in some quarters, but Laxalt is not – repeat, not – an idiot. He knows full well there was no election fraud in Nevada.

But Laxalt is – repeat, isan unscrupulous opportunist, and squealing “fraud” seemed like a politically beneficial idea at the time. He doesn’t care if there was any.

The Big Lie, however, seems to be the only thing Trump cares about, and it will be interesting, or disturbing, to see how much he forces it to the front and center of Senate campaigns like Laxalt’s. It will also be interesting, or disturbing, to see how happy Laxalt and other GOP Senate candidates will be to have the Big Lie — and Trump — at the center of their campaigns. After all, the Big Lie and January 6 will forever be inextricably linked, and as we know, among the GOP, the first rule of January 6 is you don’t talk about January 6.

Meanwhile, Laxalt’s campaign has been striving this week to grasp at any and every report from the national media – which Laxalt normally purports to despise and distrust – suggesting Laxalt is a big score for Republicans trying to recruit good candidates so the GOP can retake the Senate.

Laxalt was the only Republican to lose the Nevada governor’s race in nearly a quarter century. He’s nothing special. He’s a typical, garden-variety candidate in the age of Trump’s GOP.

Let’s say a genie came out of a Lysol bottle and told Mitch McConnell and National Republican Senatorial Committee chair Sen. Rick Scott that New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu would get off the fence and run to unseat Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan. But in exchange, Adam Laxalt would disappear. McConnell and Scott’s immediate response would be “Adam who?” Sununu’s a top recruit. Laxalt’s merely the sort of person the GOP gets stuck with these days.

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Raiders make themselves useful for a change. There is no way a mask requirement for partially vaccinated people will be enforced at Mid Air Engine Failure Field, and everybody knows it. So on that level, you know, farce. But the Raiders are requiring people to either prove they’re vaccinated or get a shot on the spot before being allowed to enter, which could/should be a substantial development in the overall area push to encourage vaccinations. Not because so many people are planning (or can afford) to go to a Raiders game. But because it’s a high-profile entry in the growing list of facilities, companies and organizations that have adopted vaccine mandates, or are about to, as the mandates become more normalized. And yes, an argument could be made that this is the single most productive thing the Raiders have done for Las Vegas since the state of Nevada humiliated itself and its people by rolling over for the NFL and building the largest publicly subsidized football field in the history of subsidies or football fields.

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Wingnuts/lambnuts hootenanny. I watched a little of Adam Laxalt’s Big Picnic last week via a video stream, and though they didn’t get any mention in media reports, Nevada GOP Rep. Mark Amodei’s remarks deserve at least some notice. In the course of a rambling, disjointed stream of aw shucks consciousness, Amodei vowed to spend the rest of his life burning as many gallons of gasoline as possible. He also threw shade on electric vehicles, lithium batteries, and lithium generally. Hope the Nevada Mining Association wasn’t watching! Just kidding. Amodei is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NMA, so s’all good. Although Elon won’t be happy about the part where Mark said electric vehicles can’t do hot weather, cold weather, or hills.

(The above items are excerpts, some lightly massaged, others more heavily, of material published in the Daily Current newsletter, the editor’s opinionated morning news roundup, which you can subscribe to here.)

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Hugh Jackson
Hugh Jackson

Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.

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