At the R-J, it’s time to change the subject

As the sun dawns on the beginning of a new six-year term for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, his enemies at the Las Vegas Review-Journal are licking their wounds and playing up the positive news that came out of Tuesday’s election. It’s understandable that they’d want to avoid the fact that the R-J went all in to defeat Reid and failed.

Publisher Sherman Frederick dwells on the gains made by Republicans in the Legislature, robbing the Assembly Democrats of a veto-proof majority and thwarting the perennial dreams of state Senate Democrats to achieve a two-thirds supermajority in the upper house. It’s cold comfort, given that the Assembly seat in Carson City that fell to the GOP was a Republican-majority district that should have been in the Republican bag all along, and that the two other Democratic candidates who lost — Ellen Spiegel in the Assembly and Joyce Woodhouse in the Senate — surprised no one. It was very likely inevitable that the state Senate wouldn’t have 14 Democrats, and some insiders feared the loss of five or six seats to the Republicans in the Assembly, not two.

Both Frederick and R-J Editor Thomas Mitchell (in a column defending the newspaper’s sometimes wildly inaccurate polls) refer to the power of unions, including programs to bus workers to the polls and newsletters distributed by casino companies that identified favored candidates. Could they possibly not know these efforts happen in every election, and have for years. I searched in vain for the howls of protest that emanated from the R-J in 2006, when MGM Mirage unwisely selected Jim Gibbons as its choice for governor, and supported him exclusively. No, back then it was merely a corporation exercising its rights to free speech. But when those same companies do the same thing in 2010, this time for a Democrat, it’s somehow wrong? Where’s the editorials decrying the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or other business groups that influenced the 2010 election?

Face it: Organizing workers, getting them to the polls, calling people to ensure they have voted or will vote, is all part of a thing I like to call “politics.” Reid and his supporters simply outgamed his opponents, including the mighty R-J, whose influence and credibility cannot help but take a hit in the wake of this election.

Finally, at the end of his column, Frederick seems to imply there is reason to question the election results. He doesn’t come out and say there was voter fraud, but the impression is clearly there. To which we should all say this: Produce evidence! If there is solid evidence of fraud (and no, a union busing its workers to the polls does not count) then let’s see some proof. Let’s let Secretary of State Ross Miller‘s election fraud task force take a look at it. C’mon, fraudsters: Don’t hint darkly about impropriety, just because you are still in shock about how Reid could possibly have won. Prove it.

It’s a tough thing to do, of course, after Reid’s Republican opponent, Sharron Angle, has already conceded the race. (Angle, of course, was not shy about contesting the results of her 2006 run against Dean Heller for Congress, even going to court to demand a whole new election. If there were any potential evidence of fraud, surely Angle would not have given up so easily?)

Bottom line: Reid won, fair and square, and he won despite every possible sling and arrow of the R-J being deployed against him. It wasn’t just Angle who lost, or the Republican Party, or the National Republican Senatorial Committee, or the “Anybody Butt Reid” crowd, or the Tea Party. It was also the R-J, which acted — in my opinion — as just another partisan political organization out to defeat Reid.

They all failed. And that must not be forgotten, no matter how much people want to change the subject.

(Full disclosure: CityLife and this blog are owned and produced by Stephens Media LLC, the parent company of the Review-Journal. I formerly worked at the R-J as a political columnist from 2000 to 2005.)

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One Response to “At the R-J, it’s time to change the subject”

  1. R.L. Conner says:

    It will be interesting to see whether the advent of predominately business people at the top will result in a more balanced approach to today’s issues. One can hope, but only time will tell.