What Should You Ask Yourself Before You Vote?

The biggest—and longest-running—marketing scam going in American society? Politics, of course. From the sixth-grader running for student-body president who promises longer recesses to the U.S. presidential hopeful who promises not to raise taxes, candidates will say anything to win your vote. Your job is to sift through the ideological bullshit—to say nothing of the nonsensical mudslinging—and figure out the answer to this question: Who’s more likely to put “getting the job done” higher on the to-do list than “furthering my ideology”? When trying to envision what such a mythical creature might look like, it helps to have an example at mind, so we asked Las Vegas political pundit par excellence Jon Ralston.

“I would say the late Republican state Sen. Bill Raggio was a guy who put getting the job done first, especially toward the end of his career,” Ralston said. “Throughout his 38 years in the Senate, he supported what he thought was the best policy, including raises for teachers, even if his party’s base didn’t like it.” — Matt Jacob

For more political thoughts see Ralston answer this week’s Seven Questions

Two Down-the-Ticket Candidates to Watch

Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins

You may live in one of the trendiest cities in the world, but never forget that Las Vegas was not so long ago a very isolated dot on the map. Hard-drinking, gun-toting Clark County Commissioner Tom Collins represents that rural legacy, what with his recent pleading of no contest on a misdemeanor charge of disturbing the peace for a July 3 incident in which neighbors said he fired at least seven times at a tree and a wooden post.

Collins is up for re-election and has raised a sizable amount of money for his race against Republican Ruth Johnson, a former three-term member of the Clark County School Board who initially said she was running for the seat because Collins made profanity-laced comments about opponents of the Clark County Shooting Park.

Political observers believe that Collins’ money and name recognition will earn him another term. No matter, you have to love a political race that brings us back to Southern Nevada’s rural roots. — Dave Berns

State Sen. Greg Brower

Brower, R-Reno, who is running against Sheila Leslie in Senate District 15, has the professional pedigree of a person with much higher aspirations. A former U.S. attorney for Nevada who was appointed to the post by President George W. Bush, the photogenic 48-year-old was a Naval officer, with stints in the Pentagon and on a warship in the Pacific fleet.

The Bonanza High School graduate served two terms in the Nevada Assembly before losing his primary race in 2002 to Tea Party darling Sharron Angle. He was appointed to his Senate seat after the resignation of legendary Nevada state Sen. Bill Raggio, and he’s in the midst of a tough battle against Leslie, a liberal who resigned from a safe Senate seat in Reno to run in a district where she bought a home a year ago.

The race could decide which party controls the state Senate, where Democrats hold a one-vote margin. Whether he wins or loses this race, you have to believe that Brower would be an attractive candidate for Nevada attorney general in 2014, potentially leading to a future run for governor or the U.S. House or Senate. — Dave Berns

Should You Split the Ticket?

Yes: For keen observers of the Capitol Hill scene, the question comes down to an old D.C. measure of power: Who’s most effective at bringing federal dollars back to their state while protecting the needs of the folks back home? To such voters, prevention or support of further development of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, funding for Nellis Air Force Base, and money for the state’s colleges, schools and infrastructure often trump party affiliation. Team Nevada is the one that matters. — Dave Berns

No: Suppose you agree with and will vote for Democrat Barack Obama but really, really like Republican Dean Heller (or reverse it for their opponents). Why vote for both unless you like gridlock? More to the point, why vote for two people who disagree on almost—if not every—major issue? If you support or oppose certain policies, you should vote for those who share your views and can get something done, in Washington or at home. At the congressional level, Nevadans will represent Nevada’s interests; where they stand on national issues ultimately matters more. — Michael Green