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Monday, August 11, 2008

About time for a primary (and a few other things)

Well, the primary is tomorrow. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. I have absolutely no idea what the results are going to be. I could win by a landslide, I could get two votes (me and my sister), or it could be really even. I think it's going to be really fun to watch and see what happens. It's my friend's birthday tomorrow too so we're going to hang out at Shuck's and have dinner and a few beers and watch Channel 4 to check out the results.

I didn't get to anywhere near as many houses as I had hoped to when I was going house to house. It took longer than I thought it would and there were just too many days where I couldn't go. There was one two week period where I think I was really only home for 1 day so that didn't help any.

I did send out a mailer that if you were on the list you should have received last Thursday or Friday. It was probably one of the most specific mailers that's ever been sent as I didn't have a whole lot of money left to send it. It went out to Republican voters in my district who voted in person during the last primary or who registered since the last primary. I also narrowed it down further by making sure that the same last name at one house only received one. I'm hoping if I win the primary I can raise a few bucks so I don't have to be quite as picky.

Speaking of finances, if you want to see something interesting, you can look at the Contribution and Expense Reports for everyone running in Clark County here: http://redrock.co.clark.nv.us/campaignfinance/. If you look at good old Assembly District 16 you'll see that my competitors and I in the primary spent about $2500 each. The incumbent spent $170,252.94. Now the catch is, he didn't spend all that money on actually trying to get elected to his district. Here are some of his expenses (by my calculations):

  • $38,254.34 on consultants. I don't know what the heck all that money gets politicians. I understand asking them questions or doing polls or stuff like that every once in a while, but if you look it's a consistent ongoing expense.

  • $9765.09 on travel, including what looks like a trip to Alaska. It's not really clear what the trips are for though (more on that later).

  • $28,632.03 on staff at the Assembly Democratic Caucus. I don't know what they do either.

  • $75,500.00 in donations to other candidates.

Now I can't say that I have a particular problem with any of his expenses but something doesn't seem right to me that out of $170,000 in spending that over $150,000 of it doesn't seem to have any real bearing on his campaign.

If you look at his contributions, he received over $264,000. Here is how I see that breaking down:

  • $232,030 from corporations and other businesses, Political Action Committees and unions.

  • $4,150 from people in Colorado

  • $5,255 from people not in Colorado, but also not in Southern Nevada

  • $12,500 from what looks like businesses or something similar but it isn't clear on the form

  • $8805 from individual contributors

Those numbers above shock me. I can't believe that such a small portion of his contributions come from your standard voter. I was planning on writing about this stuff anyways, but the Review Journal randomly had an article about the topic today: http://www.lvrj.com/news/26826009.html

All the above being said, I happened to look at his report closer than others because if I win the primary he is going to be my competition. I'm pretty sure the other incumbents (regardless of their party) look pretty similar. It still makes me want to vomit. All of this points out what I think are some serious shortcomings in the Contributions and Expenses reports:

  • They don't show how much the candidate has in the bank. If you look at the report just released, you would think you just take $264,169 - $170,252 and you'd have your answer. The catch is that the reports just released are only for the January 1 - July 31 of this year. It doesn't take into account any leftovers from previous years. If you go back and look at the previous years reports you'll see that there appears to be a lot of money left over. I think this should be made very clear to the voter.

  • It is difficult to tell sometimes if a contribution is from an individual or a business.

  • The expenses need to be way more specific. I think each one should have a comment field for what exactly the money was being used for. It doesn't have to be too specific, but if a candidate for the Nevada State Assembly is charging his campaign for a trip to Alaska I'd like to know why. The same thing goes for what all the money going to consultants and the Assembly Democratic Caucus is being used for. There's also quite a few "Petty Cash" and "Visa" expenses in there. That tells me absolutely nothing. For all I know it means "strippers". I'm sure it doesn't but how the heck am I supposed to know? I think I could have put "Visa" for all of my expenses.

Anyways, enough of all that. I do recommend that you go all look at the Contribution and Expense reports for a variety of candidates because they really are interesting.

I can't remember if I mentioned it before or not but I'm pretty impressed by the job the Clark County Elections department has done. They really have a lot of good information on their website about the election so it's worth checking out: http://www.accessclarkcounty.com/depts/election/english/Pages/home.aspx

I was going to write a bit on how much assemblyman get paid altogether (including "salary", per diem and expense reimbursement) but it's going to take some more research and it's midnight already and I still need to decide who else I'm voting for tomorrow (which is going to take some time).

One last thing, here are some scans of the mailer I sent out if anyone is interested:

Oh yeah, tomorrow I get to find out how long my vacation is going to be (sort of). I'm leaving on Friday to go to China for the Olympics and some travel. It's slated right now for six weeks. If I win the primary I'll be home early.


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