Commentary

Won’t someone think of Mark Amodei?

November 20, 2022 7:38 am
sounds like a lot

Is the Republican majority in the House of Representatives big enough for both Marjorie Taylor Greene and rudimentary public subsidies of industries that profit from public lands? Mark Amodei seems to think so. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Now that it is official and Republicans will control the House of Representatives, pretty soon we’ll get to see if Marjorie Taylor Greene crushes the hopes and dreams of Mark Amodei.

Given the Georgia congresswoman’s severely Trumpy all-whackadoodle-all-the-time approach to holding elected office, it would not be the least bit surprising if she couldn’t pick Amodei, her Republican House colleague from Nevada, out of a lineup. He’s not one of her fellow fire-breathing, conspiracy-spouting, Putin-adoring crackpots. Usually. And nor is he putative/maybe incoming House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, whom Greene loves to boss around and then brag about it (serves McCarthy right btw).

Heck, Amodei’s not even on Fox.

And all of that is probably fine with Amodei.

Apart from securing the occasional allocation for a community center or bridge or soil conservation program in some dot or other, the chief responsibility of Amodei is the same as it has been for every Republican elected to represent Nevada’s second congressional district (which has been held by Republicans and only Republicans since its creation after the 1980 census): Make sure mining, ag, development and other pertinent industries can continue to make money on federal (i.e., public) land, without too much, you know, darned burdensome government regulations. (An agenda made easier if you’ve got a Nevada Democrat in the Democratically controlled Senate who has given assurances that Nevada will remain a mining colony. And Amodei does.) 

And what better way to fulfill that crucial Amodeiluvian mission than chairing the House Appropriations subcommittee that makes most of the calls vis-a-vis budget allocations for your U.S. Department of the Interior?

Chairing that subcommittee is what Amodei most desires, he told the Nevada Appeal this week.

Amodei’s is a very sensible, conventional ambition for a congressman from CD2 – get a little clout, then get in the trenches, and quietly do as told by special interests, many of which are national or even global, and which have a financial stake in tearing up or otherwise profiting on federal lands. Traditionally that has always been the primary priority of House members from the rural West.

Hopefully, for Amodei anyway if not the planet, that pernicious mission is, in the contemporary national scheme of things, relatively low-profile. So while Greene keeps McCarthy on a short leash and she and her fellow crazies spend all their time investigating Hunter Biden’s laptop or whatever and serving Putin by trying to stop U.S. assistance to Ukraine, House Republicans might at least, on the side, be able to perform perfunctory tasks. Like, oh, letting Amodei open up a few million more acres for industry to exploit without too much regulatory muss & fuss.

Then again, wild-eyed extremism and only the slenderest of majorities could render the House majority party feckless and ineffective, so much so that even long-time mundane Republican duties like the care and feeding of mining and development in a subcommittee could fall victim to holistic House Republican chaos.

Congratulations on your reelection, Mark. Should be interesting.

***

Democrats dodge a bullet (for now). They’ll have it in the state Assembly. But in the other chamber, Nevada Democrats will fall one senator short of a two-thirds supermajority. 

Do Democrats even want two-thirds majorities in both houses though, by which they could not only override a governor’s vetoes, but enact new and/or increased taxes?

There is reason to believe they don’t, and that what Democrats far, far prefer is having a merely significant – but not super – majority. Then instead of passing things that might be good for working people and their families but upset powerful special interests – ooh, awkward – they can say that they would pass a lot of nice things but goshdarnit they don’t have the requisite two-thirds majorities in both houses so no can do.

But here’s a thing: Thanks to the way Democrats redistricted legislative seats in their favor after the 2020 census, there is a good chance, maybe even a probability, that after the 2024 elections, the dog will catch the car, and Democrats will have two-thirds majorities in both houses for the 2025 legislative session. Whether they like it or not.

What would they do then? 

For example, would Nevada Democrats reform the state’s tax structure to relieve low-income families of the disproportionately large tax burden they shoulder under the current Nevada system, and shift that burden to those capable of paying more – a group that includes but is certainly not limited to banks and the financial services industry, retail giants, developers, and of course the resort industry?

Somebody remind me to ask Democrats that question when they’re running for legislative seats in 2024. In case I forget.

***

Whew indeed. Nevada’s Cisco Aguilar and successful Democratic secretary of state candidates from some other battleground states got together on the Zoom machine to reflect on defeating election deniers. Nutshell: Whew.

But anyone tempted to get sanguine about the defeat of the lying liars should keep in mind some of these races were extremely close. In Nevada, for instance, Aguilar beat would-be lying king Jim Marchant by less than three points – 49% to 46.6%. Nearly half the Nevada electorate was willing to put a guy in charge of elections who declared he would rig elections to achieve results he desired, the preferences of the majority be damned. That nearly half of the Nevada electorate is still out there.

The closeness of the SOS race also accentuates the disturbing failure of prominent Republicans to publicly endorse Aguilar and condemn Marchant and Marchantism.

Some Nevada Republicans could bring themselves to endorse Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford and/or Democratic Treasurer Zach Conine in their races against extremist Trumpy vulgarians.

But for some reason, they didn’t similarly cross party lines to help stave off the clear and present danger posed by Jim Marchant.(The only Republican who made a public statement supporting Aguilar that I’m aware of wasn’t even from Nevada, but Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger of J6 panel fame.)

By quietly sitting on their hands and hoping for the best while also hoping not to have to bother with such unpleasantries, those Republicans permanently stained their characters. Aguilar pulling – eking? –  out a victory does not absolve sentient Republicans who did not publicly endorse him, all of whom should hang their heads in shame.

Portions of this column were originally published in the Daily Current newsletter, 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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