Politics & Policy

Tax Issues Dominate Final NV Gubernatorial Debate

Gubernatorial candidates Brian Sandoval and Rory Reid spent most their time arguing over taxes in a taped debate that aired Thursday afternoon on the statewide talk show “Nevada Newsmakers.” Both promised they won’t raise taxes as they seek to help the state address its huge budget deficit.

Sandoval repeatedly said he would veto any bill containing a tax increase, and challenged Reid to concur. However, even if elected, Sandoval may be unable to prevent tax increases should the Democrats achieve sought-after veto-proof majorities in both state houses in next Tuesday’s elections.

Assembly Democrats already hold a 28-14 majority and are not in jeopardy of losing it, but the Senate is rather more in play. Democrats currently have a 12-9 edge and need two seats to achieve the desired 14-seat majority. 

For Democrats to end up with 14 members, they need to win a trifecta:

  • Hold on to the Clark County 5 seat held by freshman Democrat incumbent Joyce Woodhouse

  • Defeat long-time Republican Barbara Cegavske in the Clark 8 seat

  • Win the open Clark 9 seat formerly held by Republican Dennis Nolan

Republicans are fighting hard to hold both Cegavske’s and Nolan’s seats and believe they have a legitimate shot to defeat Woodhouse. Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio also said this week he believes the GOP may be able to pick up the seat in Washoe 1 due in part to strong anti-incumbent sentiment, giving the Republicans a 13-8 advantage.

Democrats have a registration edge in all four districts, but the margins in two are thin and nonpartisan voters will also play a role in the races.

The significance of the electoral outcome extends beyond the agenda of the next governor and the 2011 legislative session with its expected debates over taxes and the budget. This year will mark the redrawing of state legislative district boundaries, with which both parties will have to live for the next decade.

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