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Breaking an election tie
by John "Nevada" Smith
Jul 11, 2010 | 923 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Time will tell whether Nye County Commissioner Andrew “Butch” Borasky will carve out a place in the Nevada history books by distinguishing himself in public office.

But one thing is certain: He’ll have to work overtime to get more national attention than he recently received for a simple successful cut of a deck of playing cards.

By now, it appears just about everyone with a newspaper subscription, television set or Internet access has heard about the primary election tiebreaker between Borasky and Carl Moore Sr. in distant Nye County, Nevada.

When their June 8 primary ended in a tie with 381 votes apiece, the men agreed to determine a winner by what sure sounds like a respected Nevada tradition: a cut of the cards.

Now I understand each playfully suggested dueling pistols, but thankfully cooler heads prevailed. (In Mark Twain’s Nevada, rival newspaper editors were known to take potshots at each other in print and in the street. See how well-mannered we journalists have become?)

Two recounts by hand failed to break the tie, which tells me one of two things: Either the election process in Pahrump is sound, or neither candidate had a friend close enough to the ballot box to cheat for him.

With County Clerk Sandra Merlino presiding in a Pahrump courtroom — the local casinos really missed a promotional opportunity, if you ask me —  Moore drew a 10 of clubs. Borasky then drew a queen of clubs. And the Republican nomination for the commission seat was settled. Borasky will now face Libertarian Party candidate Sandra Darby in the November general election.

Moore and Borasky shook hands and each man kept his sense of humor. Frankly, Moore deserves a political good sport award for taking the loss in stride and returned to work at his family hardware store.

Borasky told the Associated Press: “We decided on high card. There was no disagreement between us. We shook hands before and after.”

According to Nevada law, the two men could have used a coin or dice. They could even have drawn straws. Frankly, they made the right decision to go with the cards.

A coin flip? Too much like a football game.

Dice seems nice, but unless there’s a green-felt component most Americans will be more reminded of Yahtzee than of Nevada.

And drawing straws is entirely out of the question. Imagine what people would think in Iowa if someone settled a Nevada political primary dispute with a short straw. Straws are kind of sissy, if you ask me.

No, cutting a deck for the high card was perfect for a couple Silver State candidates. (Actually, cutting cards from a crooked deck would probably be perfect for Nevada candidates, but I digress.) The event struck a bell that reverberated around the nation.

Suffice to say it isn’t every day the Huffington Post,, looks away from the national headlines to include an AP report originating from sunny Pahrump.

Or the Washington Post, for that matter. I searched The Washington Post website and the story of the Nye County Commission candidates popped up. Amazing.

It’s probably a good thing the Nevada Commission on Tourism didn’t think of this promotional idea first, or you might be seeing a lot more “ties” in small towns throughout the state.

Borasky’s queen of clubs ensures him footnote status in Nevada’s colorful political history, but it’s safe to say he still has some work to do after surviving a recall last year. His political enemies didn’t want to cut cards to get rid of him. They might have preferred to cut his throat.

But maybe he’s learned from this experience.

The next time someone tells you their vote doesn’t count, tell them about the Borasky-Moore primary.

And remind them Nevada politics has become so civilized not a 0shot was fired.

John L. Smith writes a weekly column on rural Nevada. He also writes a daily column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Contact him at 702 383-0295 or at
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