Don and I are birds of a feather on almost every issue, and I have endorsed him and supported him every time he has run — here in the Tribune and on the radio — going back to 1995.
We had dinner together a while back and we both agreed to run a gentleman’s campaign against each other. Both of us agreed Bob Larkin, the liberal county commissioner, would be the worst choice. Don said the possibility is likely he and I would split the conservative vote and Larkin, the establishment’s choice, would win the primary.
I did some private polling and the vote, before any campaigning, split almost exactly by thirds. Don was right; with the conservatives split between he and I, Larkin could slip in.
It really makes no sense to have two ideologically very similar people beat each other up and instead let a liberal win. So I am not going to pursue my goal of being a State Senator and will gladly throw all of my support to Don Gustavson.
Besides, I have a twinge of guilt running against him. As my assemblyman, Don really went to bat for me on some of my pet issues that I know were of limited, if any, interest to him. He did it because I was a constituent in his district and I know he would have done the same for any person he represented who was having difficulties with government agencies or ambiguities in the law.
Don is a maverick in the sense that he places principles in front of party or politics. He kind of reminds me of Nevada’s version of Ron Paul, but the analogy doesn’t totally fit. Paul tends towards libertarianism on social issues, while Don sticks to his moral, Christian-based value system. He is both a fiscal and moral conservative — even on issues like abortion. Polls on abortion have shown a remarkable turnaround in the last decade, with the pro-life position growing from a low minority view to the majority position today.
But that was not always the case. With the almost 2 to 1 successful passage of Question 7 in 1992, which basically was a yes or no on abortion rights here in Nevada, pro-life politicians became almost non-existent.
But not Gustavson. He never evaded the issues but told everyone who asked he was proudly pro-life. Political advisors of course told him to moderate his views, but as is a basic characteristic of him, he would not. Now it’s the winning side and his long-term consistency shows him a man of true principle.
Abortion is frankly not a state issue, but it is a litmus test of sorts to separate the wheat from the chaff. Don has stood up to the political winds and remains ram-rod straight. You can duplicate that on taxes and regulations and even standing up to the powerful lobbyists who dole out the cash for re-election bids. Don was one of only three legislators — the other two were Sparks Senator Maurice Washington and Reno Assemblyman and current Senate candidate Ty Cobb — to come out of the legislative hall and speak to the Tea Party crowd there on April 15, 2009. I know. I was there and again he showed a true commitment to principle.
So, I will not be running for State Senate, and will gladly step aside and support such an honorable and proven legislator like soon-to-be State Senator Don Gustavson.
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks and owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.