Sunday, February 12, 2006

Column 71 - For the Democrats 2008 Begins Here & Now

For the Democrats, 2008 Starts Here and Now

Last Saturday I attended the Washoe County Democratic Party’s Precinct Caucus. In his column last week, Jim Clark did a good job of explaining how the Caucus/Convention system works, so I won’t go over that again. As one who values grassroots participation in the political system, though, I have to say I was impressed at what I saw and participated in.

There were about 350 people there from all over the county. County Chair Chris Wicker told me that this was a surprising turnout – they expected around 200 people, maybe 250 at most. There are probably a lot of reasons for the turnout, but certainly the fact that this year, for the first time in Nevada’s history, every constitutional office in the State is, as former Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa put it, “up for grabs.” No office has an incumbent standing for it, and so the races are wide open.

Another factor clearly affecting people’s participation is a deep discontent with what the Republican Party has given us at the national level over the past five years. At a time when even rock-ribbed Republicans like former congressman Bob Barr (R-GA) are questioning the legality of the President’s actions, Democrats who had despaired for their party almost as much as for their country are starting to think it will be possible to break the GOP’s one-party government, and that the state races in 2006 are the place to start a movement toward 2008.

While I was gratified to see what I think are some outstanding candidates for offices such as Governor (Dina Titus and Jim Gibson), US Senate (Jill Derby) and others, I was dismayed to see that there are 8 county offices and 5 state offices with no Democrats declared (I’m not counting Washoe School District Board of Trustees, the State Board of Education, or the UNR Regents). I have to wonder why.

On local offices I believe that party politics don’t mean much. Alan Tiras is standing for Jim Mancuso’s judgeship, and while Alan and I mostly don’t agree on anything at the State and National level, I’m supporting him without reservation in his run. But when I look at Sharron Angle and the damage her Prop 13 mentality could do, I can only stand dumbfounded that no one from my party is challenging her, and the same goes for the Lt. Governor’s office and for the District 4 State Senate seat now held by Randolph Townsend.

So I’d like to say to my fellow progressives that 2008 starts now, and starts here. There is every indication that, at the national level, things are only going to get worse, and if we are going to avoid disaster, we need to start now, and at the State level. The Washoe County Democratic Convention will be held March 11th at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center. Our precinct is entitled to 4 voting delegates and as of now has one – me. In addition, any Democrat can and should attend. Go to for information. Between now and then, Jim Gibson will be at the monthly meeting of the Incline Democratic Club on February 23 at the Library and I hope you’ll be there to meet and question this candidate for Governor.

On an entirely different and unrelated subject, if you missed Macavoy Layne’s (Joe Tahoe’s) column last Wednesday lamenting the departure of Mary Jurkonis from the Bonanza, you should look it up online at Mac really said it all, and I won’t try to match his well-known eloquence. All I can say is that Mary did a really remarkable job and did it with ineffable style and grace. I know she still lives here, I know she’s not really gone, and I’m sure Lee Denmark will stand on her shoulders to take the Bonanza to the next level in its contribution to the community. And all that said, we’ll miss her. So long, Mary, and thanks for the cake.

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