(LAS VEGAS CBS KXNT) Nevada Democrats convened at Bally’s in Las Vegas, echoing President Obama’s themes from his recent southern Nevada visit. Namely, promising to support education, public jobs, women’s rights, and measures to bolster the middle class family checkbook.
Those were the official themes. Rhetorically, there was additional personality on display at the state party convention, where the quest to vanquish Mitt Romney and other incumbent Republicans begins.
Congressional candidate Dina Titus got chuckles and cheers with her characteristically folksy delivery, familiar to Nevadans from her years as a state Senator and her single term in the congressional seat now held by Republican Joe Heck. Titus served up punchy lines about Republicans, claiming they want to erase their own records, and erase the good things Democrats have done.
Suggesting that Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney would like to erase statements he’s made about the automotive bailouts and women’s rights, Titus quipped that Romney would also like to make everyone forget he made his dog ride on top of the car.
State party chair Roberta Lange characterized Romney, and Republicans more generally, as out of touch. Keynote speaker and Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa summed up his speech telling Romney, “don’t let the door hit you on the way out,” encouraging the convention to chant the phrase.
State Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford made a pitch for change in Washington, pledging that if he wins Congressional District 4, he’ll fight for economic fairness, jobs for veterans, and preserving safety nets for senior citizens.
Horsford tied the issues of job growth and education to green energy programs.
“We can be the Silicon Valley of renewable energy technology, but only if we make the right choices,” he said, shifting focus to education, which he said needs support to produce technically capable workers.
Horsford also promised not to back down to Tea Party activists, citing his performance as senate majority leader in Carson City during the 2011 legislative session, and issues he says he won “with the help of the Supreme Court.” He was referring to a state Supreme Court decision handed down during the final days of the session. The decision caused Governor Brian Sandoval to break a stalemate, reversing himself on a budget item that was rendered legally questionable by the court’s finding.
Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin asked Nevada Democrats to do the hard on-the-ground campaign work — knocking on doors and making phone calls for state office candidates. Most Nevadans are removed from the state legislative process, he said, because the state capital is geographically remote, and the body meets for only four months every two years.
Conklin told KXNT voters are more engaged with local elected officials, and with congress, because of television coverage, than they are with their state legislators, who make a lot of policy that affects Nevadans directly.
Assembly Speaker John Oceguera took aim at the record of Republican Congressman Joe Heck, whose 3rd district seat he is seeking. Oceguera invoked another Obama theme, women’s rights, noting that he’s the father of a little girl.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared, reiterating the description of Republicans and of Romney as out of touch with the lives and needs of Nevadans. Reid harkened back to Romney’s remarks last fall about Nevada forclosures. Romney said while he was in Las Vegas for a televised Republican Primary debate that the remedy for the crisis is to allow the market to bottom out.
Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, who is challenging Republican Senator Dean Heller, stressed her Nevada roots and ideological consistency. She told the convention she doesn’t change her views when it’s convenient.
Berkley unloaded on Heller for his congressional record, including votes on paycheck fairness, which has been thrust back into the spotlight as a women’s issue, and for his stance on tax reform and health care reform.
The Saturday morning session was devoted to speeches by Democratic office holders. Party members will get down to business on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, including platform adoption and election of delegates to the national convention.