Dina’s Brief Pause

She arrives at a near-empty Starbucks alone. It’s already 98 degrees this morning, and she’s dressed in an ankle-length skirt and pinstriped oxford, carrying her purse on her arm. After ordering an iced tea, she ambles over to the table, in no particular rush. Dina Titus has a pretty open schedule—for Dina Titus.

The longtime state Democratic lawmaker and political science professor lost her District 3 congressional seat to Joe Heck after one term last November. Last month, she announced her retirement from UNLV after 34 years. The College Republicans were relentlessly hounding her about her $107,855 salary. Plus, the Las Vegas Review-Journal had recently grouped her with politicians who double-dipped as government employees. Just this morning, her rebuttal ran on the editorial page—“While I welcome debate on my stance on the issues, I cannot allow [the reporter’s] unfair attack on my integrity to go unanswered.”

It’s been a rocky year. But Titus has no intention of laying low.

She’s planning a bid for the new Congressional District 4—dependent on official word as to what District 4 will be (“I think it was a big mistake for the Legislature to let it get to the court”). She’s writing a political book (“I don’t want to say what it’s about yet”). She’s talking about women in politics (“The press is much harder on women about their appearance”). And she seems congenitally unable not to note the workings of the state’s political players (“Did you know [State Treasurer and 2nd Congressional District candidate] Kate Marshall was just down here?”). Plus, she’s considering the challenge of political fundraising in a meager economy while simultaneously trying to come up with ways to fix that meager economy.

She finishes off her tea. Looks at her watch. A pleasant agitation has taken over. “There’s still work to do,” she says and gets up, hooks her purse over her forearm, and heads for the door.