Sandoval and the 680,000+ voter island

Victor Joecks

Last night, Gov. Sandoval appeared on “Face to Face” and was interviewed by Jon Ralston. In response to Monday’s higher-education rally, feelers being put out by Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea and some recent comments made by Tray Abney of the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce, Ralston challenged Sandoval about honoring his promise not to raise taxes (video after the jump, 4:06 mark).

Ralston: So let me get this straight. I’m going to come at you again with this. You have the business group [the Reno Sparks Chamber of Commerce] saying this [they’ll agree to tax increases in exchange for reforms]. Essentially the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce has taken a fairly similar position. The Assembly Republicans have written a letter saying, “If you talk about reforms to the Democrats, we’ll be willing to talk about not sunsetting those, those tax increases.”

You’re alone. You’re an island, Governor. You’re the only guy in the state who’s not willing to have a conversation about reform versus taxes. You’re alone. No one agrees with you.

Sandoval: I disagree. …

Ralston: Who agrees with you?

Sandoval: … What’s new?

Ralston: Who agrees with you?

Now, Sandoval does a fine job answering this in the interview, but there are a couple of points here I want to make.

First, this isn’t a question about the merits of Sandoval’s proposals. It’s really just a gut-check for Sandoval’s level of political courage, analogous to the “everyone’s doing it, so why aren’t you?” taunts familiar to any current or former grade-school student.

Second, the premise of Ralston’s question is simply false. Who’s on the no-new-taxes island with Sandoval?

Let’s start with his main gubernatorial opponent, Rory Reid. That’d be an interesting episode of Survivor, but they’re hardly alone.

There are also the 680,000-plus Nevada voters who cast their ballots for either no-new-taxes Sandoval or no-new-taxes Reid. Suddenly, the island is looking a lot like Nevada.

Then there’s the entire Republican Senate caucus, which has signed a letter clearly stating their opposition to tax increases: “[Y]ou have our unwavering support for your [Sandoval’s] plan to balance the budget while fighting job-killing taxes.”

And even one of Sandoval’s main political opponents, Sen. Steven Horsford, agreed with the governor. It might get awkward on this mythical island.

“I won’t support tax increases — not when the private sector is losing revenue and losing jobs,” Horsford told the Review-Journal’s editorial board in September [2008].

“The general fund needs to be managed in a way that doesn’t allow growth beyond population growth and inflation.”

At least, that was Horsford’s position when he was running for office. He violated that promise in 2009 and is leading the charge to raise taxes again this session.

Sandoval also has a plus-21-point gap between his approval and disapproval ratings.

So, who’s on the no-new-taxes island and agrees with the governor? Outside of the Carson City cocoon – most voters, apparently. Looks like those supporting taxes are really the isolated ones (again, outside of the Carson City bubble).

The real question is: “Who doesn’t agree with the governor, and why didn’t they vote, run for office or, if they did run, be honest in their campaigns?

Video of the interview after the jump. The above exchange starts at the 4:06 mark.