Commentary

What will Virginia’s election say about Nevada’s? Probably nothing good.

October 24, 2021 7:50 am

Dang. If only Adam Laxalt had stayed in the D.C. metro where he has spent most of his life and to which he is so desperate to return, maybe he could have been the guy on the right. (Photo: Virginia Mercury)

Despising Terry McAuliffe has been a minor pastime among American leftists since McAuliffe established himself as perhaps the premier face of the Democratic Party’s corporate wing decades ago. Now Democrats are wringing their hands and furrowing their brows and crying “oh my stars and garters” because McAuliffe could – gasp! – lose the Virginia governor’s race, the election for which will be held Nov. 2 (because Virginia is for lovers of silly off-year election scheduling).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as eager as the next good little lefty on the street to see the Trump Party candidate – some product of our bloated financial industry named Glenn Youngkin in this case – lose.

I’ve always resisted the temptation to read much into silly off-year elections in Virginia and New Jersey. But because politics are so nationalized and polarized now, the Virginia election this year will be a more relevant than usual reflection of the electorate’s mood from coast to coast, including here in Nevada. Whatever the outcome in Virginia, hopefully one of the things Democrats take away from the contest is that with democracy, human rights, human dignity, civil society and any fleeting hope of an enlightened future under relentless siege like at no other point in most our lifetimes, McAuliffe and his accommodating ilk have long been part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Virginia’s election in 2021 may portend the trouble facing Democrats in Nevada and the nation in 2022. But it also reflects a Democratic economic and cultural surrender to the right that has been going on for decades, and that has done so very much to get us where we are today.

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Your national media has been frolicking lately in one of its favorite recurring narratives, ye olde “Democrats in disarray.” Well, Democrats usually are in some manner of disarray. Which is not entirely horrible, because more often than not over the years when Democrats have been arrayed it has been in aim of the aforementioned collective capitulation to the right.

We’re seeing some of that now, the right in this iteration being Joe Manchin, and the capitulation involving a severely curtailed and incredibly shrinking reconciliation package. But! Your disarrayed Democrats are surely(?) going to pass … something. What gets left in it remains to be seen.

Which brings us to a pretty big ad buy. Senate Majority PAC, a key outside Democratic outfit, has bought 800,000 American dollars worth of advertising in Nevada. (Have I mentioned this promises to be an especially lucrative cycle for the out-of-state companies that own all of Nevada’s TV stations? It would be remiss of me not to note that campaign consultants who place the ads take a cut, so a lucrative cycle for them too ha ha).

A couple things in the ad that caught my eye: Adam Laxalt “says no to lower prescription drug costs for seniors on Medicare,” and “he even opposes the expanded child tax credit for working parents.”

Again, exactly what is going to survive in the reconciliation package is up in the air. But letting Medicare negotiate prescription drug prices (just as is done in grown-up countries) and extending the child tax credit are both very popular. The child tax credit should be made permanent. It won’t be. But  it looks like at least it will be extended another year. And the prescription drug thing has been a top Democratic priority (and talking point) for decades. If Democrats can’t keep that in the bill, they deserve to lose a year from now.

Laxalt’s campaign may not be too awfully bothered by ads like the one running now that says he’s against a prescription drug policy that is merely a proposal as yet, and a tax credit that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year anyway. But Laxalt & Co. will be a lot more worried by ads running later that say he’s against widely popular policy achievements that Democrats have actually enacted into law. However much they squeal about “socialism” or whatever, the main reason Republicans don’t want Democrats to pass a truly substantial reconciliation package is because they know it’s the Democrats’ best (and probably only) shot to win in 2022.

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Does this chart surprise you? In the course of some related work recently, I got curious about a thing so I dialed up this chart of homeownership rates in Nevada compared to the U.S. over the last few decades.

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The impact of the 2007-08 crash makes sense. But Nevada’s lower-than-U.S. homeownership rate in the earlier years surprised me. My impression (I got here in 1997) was that during the 80s and 90s this was a pretty affordable market.

But then I thought about the low-wage service economy (Culinary contracts notwithstanding), and also the transiency/impermanence that has characterized the workforce, not just in service jobs, but also in construction, back when that made up a much more significant portion of Southern Nevada’s employment base. So people weren’t settling in/settling down?

After nosing around a little (just a little), something someone said about the demographics of the Southern Nevada workforce got me thinking of another factor. Federal and local housing policy historically and systemically favored white middle class homeownership, at the expense of homeownership by people of color. The result is that white people are the beneficiaries of substantially more intergenerational wealth, which gives them numerous advantages, not least the likelihood of property acquisition.

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“Do we double down on the promises of the last century and fight over water that simply isn’t there, or do we roll up our sleeves and deal with the climate realities of this century?,” Southern Nevada Water Authority poohbah John Entsminger asked Congress earlier this month. It’s an impressive rhetorical question … though some of you, and you know who you are, will probably be rude and point out that “realities of this century” include but certainly are not limited to SNWA eagerly and aggressively fighting for water that isn’t theirs.

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GOP gube race: And then there were six. A Las Vegas City Councilwoman whose campaign finances are under investigation by the FBI held a press conference this week to publicly and formally announce she wants people to talk about her all the time and give her money.

(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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