Practically straight across the board the candidate with the largest war chest won the election, particularly in the northern part of the state. All city council and county commission incumbents were returned to office, which indicates that locals are pretty well satisfied with the status quo of local government. The one open seat on the Washoe County Commission — District 1, which was being relinquished by three-term commissioner Jim Galloway — most vividly followed the above mantra with the victor, John Breternitz, raising more than $200,000 to his opponent Toni Harsh’s total of less than $50,000.
The biggest loss, however, for the state in general was the fact that long-time Republican state Sen. Bill Raggio’s stint as Majority Leader came to an end with a new 12-9 majority favoring Democrats in the Senate. While Raggio handily won his race (after a nail-biter of a primary against Sharron Angle), two Republican state senators from Clark County were taken out by Democratic opponents, thus erasing the 11-10 GOP majority.
Interviewed after the results were tallied, Raggio was realistic about the situation for the upcoming 2009 session of the Legislature when he noted, “I’ve served in the Minority before so I know what it is like.” Long regarded as the most powerful individual in Nevada state government, it is unlikely that his influential voice will in any way be diminished in the next session.
With the biggest state swings in party influence occurring in Clark County on Tuesday, most savvy political observers said on Wednesday morning that this gives even more credence to the persistent rumor that current Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman will be a strong contender for governor when the 2010 election cycle rolls around.
A sidebar to the fact that the Democrats will control both the Nevada Senate and Assembly bodes more than ill for Gov. Jim Gibbons, whose solid “no new taxes” stance will be put to the ultimate test in Carson City next year.
Fantasy football alive and well here
This past week, the sports editor at the Reno Gazette-Journal engaged in her own flight of fancy about “what might have been.” Her article was inspired by the upset win by Texas Tech over No. 1 Texas last week. She rationalized that the University of Nevada, Reno football team “almost” beat Texas Tech here early in the season. To her, that made the case that Nevada could also possibly have beaten Texas if the two had matched up in 2008. The truth of the matter is that in football — as in all other sports — a win is a win, whether it is by one point or 100 points. The talent and ferocity of the Texas Tech team last week was in stark contrast to the rather lethargic approach they took to their game against the Wolf Pack. Last week their quarterback, who may be the Heisman winner this year, played a superlative game, hitting the winning touchdown on a long pass that left Texas with one second on the clock and bringing his team from a one-point deficit with only 8 ticks left on the game clock.
As good friend Don Meredith, a frequent visitor here and one of the brightest stars ever to appear on Monday night Football, used to frequently say: “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, what a Merry Christmas we would all have!”
Good news for Pack basketball fans
Despite the grumbling locally amongst long-time Nevada basketball fans and boosters about rising costs of their beloved seats at Lawlor Events Center and the proposed re-seating (at higher prices) for the 2009-10 season, it looks like this year’s edition of the Silver and Blue thinclads will be worth the price of admission. Early this week word came down that Nevada’s sophomore point guard, Armon Johnson, is being touted as the pre-season favorite for WAC Player of the Year.
The talented Johnson, who was a scoring sensation when he played for Hug High School in Reno, was transformed into a point guard (hardwood quarterback) last season and performed beautifully in that position although his high-scoring skills were not utilized to their fullest. Along with Johnson, Coach Fox scored a major coup when he won over Galena’s Luke Babbitt to come to Nevada this season. Babbitt had been heavily recruited by major schools and was a McDonald’s All-American last season.
Babbitt, at 6-feet 9-inches tall, will give Nevada some strength under the boards and hel also had a high school scoring record that matched and often eclipsed Johnson’s.
With a visibly smaller lineup this year than last, Coach Fox is predicting a speedier and more high-scoring offense than the “set offense” that was in vogue with skyscrapers Nick Fazekas and Javale McGee.
Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly in the Tribune.
Editor’s note: Harry Spencer’s column is sometimes a mix of reporting and opinion. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Tribune.