Byron Georgiou and the powers that be

    Byron Georgiou, who was running for the U.S. Senate, was about to disappear politically without even leaving a laundry mark. Instead, he bailed out of a losing battle with Rep. Shelley Berkley and the Democratic Party hierarchy. A thought or two on what it means or meant:

  • Georgiou is impressive. He’s an attorney, businessman and appointee to the commission that examined the financial crisis but unfortunately lacked the power to prosecute the criminals who caused it.  But he never has held any office. His second attempt to enter politics came on a bid for the highest office presumably available, without regard to the realities of political hopefuls. Georgiou didn’t start his career as a high-powered, wealthy attorney—he worked his way up to it, and he worked hard to get there.  It isn’t common for a newly ordained priest to be elected pope, or an office boy to leap to CEO.  Why should politics and governance be different?
  • Unquestionably, Sen. Harry Reid had a lot to do with shutting off any funding spigots to
    Georgiou.  Reid is Nevada’s biggest Democratic power—indeed, “biggest” probably isn’t needed as a modifier.  But that’s what political parties and their leaders do when they fulfill their roles:  vet and shape the field and their side’s campaigns.  Today it tends to be more public than it used to be.  It also happened, in a different way, in the GOP:  Gov. Brian Sandoval and others did everything but use physical restraints to try to keep Sharron Angle from challenging Dean Heller for the Senate seat he now holds, Georgiou sought, and Berkley seeks.  What’s more unusual is that this similarity has gone largely unnoticed, and that Nevada Republicans
    accomplished their goal; their party organization has paled in comparison with Democrats in recent years.
  • Some liberal Nevada Democrats hoped Georgiou would drive Berkley to the left.  They misread political tea leaves.  The key here isn’t ideology.  It’s that Berkley is a Las Vegan and needs to win big at home and capture votes in Reno.  That won’t take liberalism.  It will take salesmanship—or, in this case, saleswomanship.  If anybody has it, it’s Berkley.

Michael Green is a professor of history at the College of Southern Nevada.

This item originally stated that this was Byron Georgiou’s first attempt at
elective office.  He had run for the House while living in California.