Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Democrats Can Win in the Rurals

When talking about trying to win the 2nd congressional district in Nevada, which encompasses almost all of Nevada except for the heavily populated parts of Clark County, you almost always encounter one argument: Democrats cannot win in the rurals.

Now, at first look that might be true, statewide Democratic candidates often lose the rural counties and often by a large margin. One reason for that might be that statewide Democratic candidates most often hail from Clark County and might not campaign too much in the rurals.

However, when you take a closer look you might come away shocked. Why? Because Democrats actually get elected in the rurals on a regular basis. Just take a look at this list of current office holders who identified themselves as Democrats on the ballot:

Churchill County:

Vicky Tripp, County Recorder
John Serpa, County Public Administrator

Elko County:

Mike Nannini, County Commissioner

Esmeralda County:

Nancy Boland, County Commissioner
R.J. Gillum, County Commissioner
Karen Scott, County Auditor/Recorder

Eureka County:

Michael Rebaleati, County Recorder/Auditor

Lander County:

Gladys Burris, County Clerk

Lincoln County:

Bill Lloyd, County Commissioner
Leslie Boucher, County Recorder/Auditor
Kathy Hiatt, County Treasurer
Tommy Rowe, County Commissioner

Mineral County:

Ed Fowler, County Commissioner
Richard Bryant, County Commissioner
Cheri Emm-Smith, District Attorney

Nye County:

Gary Budahl, County Treasurer
Sandra Musselman, County Assessor

Pershing County:

Roger Mancebo, County Commissioner
Celeste Hamilton, County Assessor
Donna Giles, County Clerk/Treasurer
Darlene Moura, Recorder/Auditor
Dave Ayoob, County Commissioner

Storey County:

Harold Swafford, District Attorney

White Pine County:

Robert Bishop, County Assessor
RaLeene Makley, County Commissioner
Martha Rivera Sindelar, County Recorder

Now, that's one impressive list. You know how I got this information? By skimming through the Secretary of State's website and writing down each person who won an election in the last four years and was marked as a Democrat. By doing that I may have missed someone, and there may also be persons included who are registered as Democrats but might just be so called DINOs (Democrats in name only). But I have no way of knowing. Why? Because the Nevada State Democratic Party hasn't actually advertised the fact that Democrats get routinely (and sometimes without even having an opponent) elected in the rurals. Just take a look at their page listing county commissioners. They list the five Clark County commissioners and Pete Sferrazza from Washoe County. That's it. No mention of the county commissioners from Elko, Esmeralda, Lincoln, Mineral, Pershing, and White Pine counties.

What conclusions can be drawn from that list? Democrats can win in the rurals, so much is for sure. How do they win? My guess is by meeting the voters and proving that they're more qualified for the job than their Republican opponent.

Ahead of her election as Chair of the Nevada State Democratic Party, I asked Jill Derby about her experiences on the campaign trail. Here's what she had to say:

I was able to connect with many people in all 17 of Nevada’s counties during my campaign for Congress. That experience provides me with a network of positive relationships with which to build the unity, focus, and cohesion which will be important to the Party in the year ahead. Democrats often talk about being the party of inclusion and I intend to make that happen by involving everyone – rural and urban, north and south. I also learned that many Nevadans are independent and not locked into strict party vote. I learned that reaching out and framing our message in ways that resonate beyond our traditional Democratic audience can bring support across party lines, and is particularly attractive to independent voters, of which there are many in Nevada.

In order for a Democratic candidate to beat Dean Heller next year, one can only encourage Jill Derby and hope she'll focus more heavily on the rurals, highlight achievements in counties like Lincoln and Pershing, and set up a party structure in the rural counties.


UpNorth said...

Would any of these elected officials make for good opponents against Heller in 08?

Billy said...

I've been phoning Democrats in "the cows" (old time NV term for rurals) for the Obama campaign. I keep hearing over and over, something is happening in the rurals. The rurals are moving away from the Republicans.

I was also told by a long-time activist in "the cows," the rurals don't vote party-line. They vote who they think is best. For awhile they've thought the Reps were best for them. Apparently there's a shift in the air...