Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 | 2 a.m.
Nevada Reps. Susie Lee, Steven Horsford and Dina Titus have established themselves as champions of Southern Nevada causes in Washington, D.C. The Sun endorses all three to return to the nation’s capital. Here’s why:
Congressional District 3
In her two years in Congress, Nevada Rep. Susie Lee has proven herself to be the kind of leader Americans yearn for — someone who’s willing to work across the aisle to craft good policy.
Take the stalemate on the new coronavirus relief package. Lee was among the 50 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus — made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans — who forged a $1.5 trillion compromise package in hopes of breaking the gridlock. She played a prominent role in the measure, as shown when she was among the caucus members selected to appear at a Capitol Hill news conference to announce it.
“There’s never been a more critical moment for Congress to put party and politics aside and do what’s right for the American people than during this pandemic,” she said in a statement.
That’s leadership at its finest — focusing squarely on people’s needs and finding common ground with the opposing party to help them. And it’s one reason why Lee has earned another term in the House.
The Lugar Center, which rates lawmakers on their bipartisanship based on how often they receive and give support to bills from their opposing party, rated Lee as Nevada’s most bipartisan member in 2019 and ranked her No. 103 overall. Given that Lee was a freshman who was still networking and making connections, that was a significant accomplishment.
But Lee also knows when to hold her ground.
Nevadans sent her to Congress in 2018 as part of a new guard to protect the state and the nation from the destructive politics of the extreme right, and Lee didn’t disappoint.
She provided responsible, moderate leadership on the environment, education, immigration, energy, gun safety, coronavirus response and other key issues. As part of a freshman class that tipped the majority of the House to the Democratic Party, she provided the opposition to the Trump administration and GOP extremists that the nation desperately needed.
Here’s just one example: When the administration scuttled a longstanding program protecting college students from fraudulent so-called learning institutions — Trump University, anyone? — Lee immediately stepped up with a House resolution protecting those students. The resolution and a companion version of it in the Senate passed in both chambers, providing protection for the program, which provides federal loan forgiveness to students who were lied to by colleges to lure them into enrolling.
The fact that the measure cleared the Republican-controlled Senate reflected how terrible the Trump administration’s move had been.
“We’re not going to sit on the sidelines while these institutions scam our families, our friends and our veterans while they’re trying to get an education,” Lee said of the resolution.
That’s Susie Lee, who spent decades protecting students before being elected to Congress. Lee was the founding director of After-School All-Stars, a local program that provides services to students after classes, and served as president of Communities in Schools of Nevada, a leading student-support organization that provides 63,000 at-risk students statewide with whatever they need to stay in school — tutoring, clothing, food, transportation, toiletries, laundry facilities, eyeglasses, alarm clocks and much more.
In Congress, she’s kept right on advocating for students and education, but has broadened out to protecting the interests of all Nevadans.
Notably, for instance, she helped lead the charge to expand Paycheck Protection Program loans to small gaming businesses in Nevada, which the federal government originally excluded from the program. Republicans criticized Lee for her stance, claiming it was unethical for her because her husband’s gaming company benefited from the change, but that’s nothing but political mudslinging.
Lee said, quite credibly, that she did not influence the process for her husband’s company to get funding. And what, she was supposed to stay on the sidelines on the issue when hundreds of Nevada businesses were being crushed economically by the pandemic? Is she also supposed to stay out of every gaming issue because of her husband?
That makes no sense. Lee did the right thing by stepping up.
In her two years in Washington, Lee has shown herself to be an antidote to extremist Republicans and their toxic politics. They try to gut public schools and pull up the ladder to all but the elite; Lee fights for a high-quality education for all Americans. They fear-monger and vilify groups of Americans; Lee spent her career providing hope for people from all walks of life. They work to divide Americans; Lee joined the Problem Solvers Caucus.
Now, though, Republicans are heavily targeting her seat, and are supporting a candidate who might as well have been designed in a lab by President Donald Trump. That candidate is Daniel “Big Dan” Rodimer, a former WWE wrestler whose promotional materials are full of references to extremist-right causes — such as fighting “gun grabbers” (in other words, opposing any type of gun safety legislation), and “putting Americans first” (in other words, adopting Trump’s cruel and destructive policies on immigration).
Rodimer has practically no public leadership experience and comes with a disturbing history of violence. He was arrested for battery in 2010 while living in Florida, and was accused of assault there on other occasions but not arrested. In the 2010 arrest, Rodimer admitted to committing the crime of battery as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. He completed an anger management course, and prosecutors agreed not to continue the case against him.
For Lee, Rodimer isn’t the first right-wing extremist she’s faced in an election. In 2018, she defeated perennial Nevada candidate Danny Tarkanian to earn her seat in Congress.
Today, think of what the past two years would have been like if Nevadans and their fellow Americans in other states hadn’t sent leaders like Lee to Washington.
Voters made the right call then — thank goodness. And today, with two years of measured and moderate experience under her belt, Lee is an even stronger candidate.
We urge voters to elect her to another term, and keep the 3rd district in the hands of someone who will fight for all Nevadans.
Congressional District 4
Experience matters in Congress. Nevadans in the 4th district recognized that in 2018 when they sent Rep. Steven Horsford back to Capitol Hill, and their wisdom paid dividends for the state.
Perhaps nowhere was that more evidenced than in Horsford’s opposition to a proposal to expand the Nellis Air Force Base training range into 855,000 acres of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge.
For Horsford and his colleagues in the Southern Nevada delegation, the proposal was a major test. The Trump administration was gung-ho on the idea — no surprise from a president who tried unsuccessfully to resurrect the abysmal Yucca Mountain nuclear repository project and has also considered restarting nuclear bomb testing at the Nevada National Security Site.
On the Nellis issue, as with Trump’s madman idea about nuclear testing, the stakes were nothing less than the bombing of Nevada. The Air Force wanted to expand its training range to allow it to conduct exercises involving live ordnance that can be released from great distances and guided to targets through the use of modern technology.
At risk was a huge swath of the refuge, the second largest of its type in the United States behind one in Alaska. The Nevada refuge is home to an amazing array of wildlife and flora, including being a rich habitat for bighorn sheep, and offers some of the state’s best recreation areas.
The expansion at one point looked like a done deal, when the Democrat-controlled House Armed Services Committee approved the proposal in a version of the defense funding bill. It was an enormous slap in the face to Nevada and to the Southern Nevada delegation.
Nevada needed an able protector. It got one in Hosford.
Horsford, whose district includes the portion of the wildlife refuge targeted by the Air Force, stepped to the forefront and turned back the proposal. Thanks in large part to his efforts, and his work in tandem with Nevada Reps. Dina Titus and Susie Lee, the full House passed a version of the defense funding bill that eliminated the expansion.
That’s an example of how much of a difference it makes to have capable, experienced lawmakers in Congress.
Horsford fits that bill. He was first elected to the House in 2012 after serving two terms in the Nevada state Senate, where he became the first African American to serve as the majority leader.
Horsford served one term in the House before losing narrowly to Republican Cresent Hardy in 2014. Hardy lost to Democrat Ruben Kihuen in 2016 after an unmemorable term, but Kihuen was accused of sexual harassment early in his term and announced he would not seek reelection.
That set the stage for Horsford’s return, and he won back the seat in 2018.
His return brought back stability and measured leadership to the 4th district. Horsford has served Nevada well on an array of issues — the environment, immigration policy, gun violence and more — and is particularly strong on health care.
Horsford’s efforts on that front include:
• Championing a number of bills aimed at reducing drug prices, including by allowing generic drugs to be brought to market more quickly and allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices through Medicare Part D.
• Introducing legislation to ban junk insurance plans — short-term policies in which providers can refuse to pay for essential services such as prescription drugs and pregnancy care.
• He also introduced legislation to protect Americans with preexisting conditions from being denied coverage.
Now Horsford’s main opponent is Jim Marchant, a Repubican who served one term in the Nevada Assembly before being defeated in 2018. Marchant has lived in Nevada since 2005, when he retired from the tech industry in Florida.
His experience is simply no match for Horsford’s. In these times, especially, Nevada needs steady, capable and stable leadership, which Horsford has proven he can provide.
We urge voters to reelect Horsford.
Congressional District 1
In the two years since she solidly defeated the challenger who returned to face her this year, Nevada Rep. Dina Titus has become an even stronger choice in 2020.
In her fifth term, Titus added to her reputation as a strong defender of the state and further distinguished herself by investigating the Trump administration’s corruption.
When word leaked from the White House that President Donald Trump was toying with resuming nuclear bomb testing at the Nevada National Security Site, Titus spearheaded an effort to block funding for any tests. When Trump took steps to resurrect the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project, Titus locked arms with her Southern Nevada colleagues and fought off the administration.
And as chairwoman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, she hammered at the Trump administration over serving as both the landlord and tenant of the Old Post Office Building in Washington, D.C., which Trump’s business leased from the federal government and transformed into the Trump International Hotel.
“President Trump may have called the Emoluments Clause ‘phony,’ but some of us take our oath to the Constitution seriously,” she said in a statement.
Titus certainly does that, and she also takes seriously her duty to protect Nevada’s interests. She showed that in ways that included helping reverse the Trump administration’s decision to exclude small gaming businesses from Payroll Protection Plan funding, and leading a charge to reauthorize the Brand USA travel marketing program.
Titus is the dean of Nevada’s congressional delegation, and she carries herself exactly like a veteran congresswoman should. She knows how to work across the aisle, she knows when to dig in her heels and fight back, and she knows to keep the interests of the folks back home at the top of mind.
In short, Nevadans are in good hands with Titus in Congress. And they know it: She won her last four terms by margins of 33, 20, 32 and 35 percentage points. Her last victory came against Republican challenger Joyce Bentley, who is back on the ballot this year.
But the voters have spoken: Titus is the head-and-shoulders choice. We couldn’t agree more.