Crystal Ball At Desk. Photo via iStock.com. Credit: Andrey Popov.

Every January I look upon these works and despair mightily: Why in the name of the God who talks to Sharron Angle did I ever decide to do predictions at the beginning of the year?

I always start these columns with something between self-flagellating wails and a priori excuses in the extraordinarily unlikely event that I end up being – what is the word? – wrong. But of all years I have done this – and there have been many – never have I felt so unsure of what will happen going into a political year.

Why? The Trump entropy factor. More than the usual number of provocative primaries. An off-year in which crazy stuff can happen depending on voter turnout. (See 2014 and look what happened: You don’t see Rep. Steven Horsford or Attorney General Ross Miller.)

And there are confounding questions to resolve with no easy answers: Will the post-Reid-era Democratic machine be as efficient and deadly? Can the Republicans continue to slowly eat away at Democratic registration advantages? Will the efforts by some GOP candidates to drive up the white vote with “sanctuary cities” and other strategems neutralize a Hispanic turnout that could be higher than ever for a midterm election?

Only a pusillanimous pundit would be daunted by the difficult choices ahead. Or one with a lesser ego, perhaps?

Luckily, there is an indispensable part of The Pundit’s Code that applies: As always, I may revise and extend these predictions as the year goes on, aka The Pundit’s Prerogative.

The locks

—A Democratic wave is coming here and across the country. The only question, barring something unforeseen (and these are famous last words these days), is how big it will be. It’s probably going to reach tsunami levels in this purple-blue state. To wit: The Democrats in Nevada will take five of the six constitutional offices and corral three of the four congressional seats.

—The Democrats will maintain control of both Carson City houses. They will have a veto-proof majority in the Assembly and come close in the state Senate. If they have a Democratic governor, they could do pretty much anything they want. If….

—A female majority will be elected to the state Supreme Court in The Good Old Boy State. By early in the New Year, the double-X majority court will have to consider at least one lawsuit over the Energy Choice Initiative, which will pass but by a much closer margin than 2016 because of a campaign by NV Energy and its allies.

The probables

The races for governor and U.S. Senate are virtually impossible to call. So, of course, I will do so anyhow.

—There will be upsets in two of the contentious primaries in these races. Adam Laxalt will be the next governor, and Jacky Rosen will be a senator.

First, the toughest call of all, the Democratic primary for governor and the general election. Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak is the candidate most like the last few governors, Jim Gibbons excepted. He is a middle-of-the road guy and a fundraising maestro. His politics are not a lot different from Richard Bryan or Bob Miller or Kenny Guinn or Brian Sandoval. But I can’t envision how, despite his likely 5-to-1 money advantage, he can survive a Democratic primary with colleague Chris Giunchigliani, an unabashed liberal — unless there is something we don’t yet know about her. She has been vetted plenty of times in 25 years, though; she is a base darling; and low-turnout primaries are base affairs. I think, unless Sisolak runs the best campaign in Nevada history, she beats him. And then, despite the Democratic wave, she will lose to Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who will defeat Treasurer Dan Schwartz on the GOP side. Laxalt has problems – his short residency here, his Sheldon Adelson fealty, his unfamiliarity with issues compared to either of the Democrats. But he will run up the score in the rurals, benefit from negatives heaped on his opponent by Sisolak, and stanch the Clark bleeding enough to survive. Probably.

In the Senate contest, incumbent Dean Heller has never lost a race, but it’s hard to imagine that streak continuing when: His numbers are so low and so unlikely to improve that I don’t see how he can survive. Even though President Trump indicated Saturday he would not go against any incumbents in the primaries, his promises often have a short half-life. I don’t underestimate Heller’s survival instincts or his team’s ruthlessness. But I think he will probably lose in the primary to Danny Tarkanian, who in turn will be defeated by Rep. Jacky Rosen. If Heller were to survive the primary, he will have run so far to the right to beat Tark that I don’t see how he survives the general, especially in a Democratic wave year.

—The proposed recalls of two Democratic state senators will fail. If the elections had been held during the holidays, maybe the Republican scheme might have worked. Super-low turnout may have rewarded the shameful attempted perversion of the system. But turnout will not be low in the spring and in the Year of #MeToo, trying to oust two female senators will not go well. I actually don’t think the elections will ever take place – the state Supreme Court is not going to sanction stifling a voter’s right to withdraw his or her name from a petition.

—In CD3, Susie Lee will become a congresswoman after defeating former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman in November. Seaman will defeat state Sen. Scott Hammond and anti-media crusader Michelle Mortenson in the primary. But Seaman can’t win a general election. In CD4, ex-Rep. Steven Horsford will recapture his old seat. He will win the Democratic primary against state Sen. Pat Spearman, if she files. North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee will not file. Ex-Rep. Cresent Hardy will decide to run, and Las Vegas Councilman Stavros Anthony will be the GOP nominee.

The fantasies

—Sen. Dean Heller will announce he is not seeking re-election. Gov. Brian Sandoval will jump into the race, closing out John Ensign’s exploratory campaign. Danny Tarkanian will file for lieutenant governor instead, setting up a rematch with state Sen. Michael Roberson. Harry Reid will get into the race against Sandoval, setting up an epic battle and relegating Jacky Rosen to run for re-election.

—Attorney General Jeff Sessions will follow through on his threat to close Nevada pot businesses. State Sen. Tick Segerblom will declare that the state will meet the feds in the streets to fight for the right to get high. Sessions will call in federal troops. Segerblom will amass thousands of dispensary owners and patrons to form a blockade, but they will all fall asleep, thus allowing the pot shops to be closed with relatively little difficulty.

—The site for the Raiders Stadium will be found to be environmentally contaminated, forcing backers to look for another location. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman will offer the downtown site again as a natural second choice, but she will be asked about the soccer team the site has been promised to. “What soccer team?” she will ask as Oscar “What mob?” Goodman stands behind her, beaming.

Disclosure: Steve Sisolak ($1,000), Christina Giunchigliani ($425) and Suzanne Lee ($400) have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can view a full list of donors here.

Question 3 Energy Choice Initiative Description Shall Article 1 of the Nevada Constitution be amended to require the Legislature to provide by law for the establishment of an open, competitive retail electric energy market that prohibits the granting of monopolies and exclusive franchises for the generation of electricity? Status Becomes part of Constitution if approved by voters in 2018 Type Initiated constitutional amendment Supporters  Las Vegas Sands, Switch, Gov. Brian Sandoval, former Sen. Harry Reid Opponents NV Energy, Controller Ron Knecht, IBEW 1245, Culinary Local 226

INDY FAST FACTS Victoria Seaman Job: Business broker Party: Republican In current office: None Birthdate: October 19, 1958 Education: College of Southern Nevada (A.A.) Public offices held: Assemblywoman, District 34 (2014-2016) Total donations: $778,495 (11/20/11-12/31/17) Top donors: Victoria Seaman $73,081 Las Vegas Sands Corp $30,000 Ahern Rentals $22,500 Keystone Corp $18,000 Bill and Cynthia Brady $15,000
INDY FAST FACTS Danny Tarkanian Job: Businessman Party: Republican In current office: None Birthdate: Dec. 18, 1961 Education: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (B.A.) University of San Diego (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total Donations: $3,443,619 (8/18/04-12/31/17) Top Donors: Danny Tarkanian $528,440 Stations Casino $74,550 Las Vegas Sands Corp $38,900 Domain.com $26,600 Maloof family $18,000
INDY FAST FACTS Michael Roberson Job: State senate minority leader Party: Republican In current office: 2010-present Senate Republican leader since 2015 Birthdate: June 20, 1970 Education: University of Kansas (B.S.) University of Kansas School of Law (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $1,692,296 (5/28/10-12/29/17) Top donors: Las Vegas Sands $55,000 Station Casinos/Zuffa $47,500 Boyd Gaming $35,000 MGM Resorts International $25,000 Wynn Resorts $22,000
INDY FAST FACTS Steve Sisolak Job: Clark County commission chairman Party: Democrat In current office: 2009-present Commission chairman since 2013 Birthdate: December 26, 1953 Education: University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee (B.S.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.B.A.) Other public offices held: Nevada System of Higher Education Regent (1999-2009) Total donations: $7,869,927 (1/12/11-12/31/17) Top donors: MGM Resorts International $174,359 Station Casinos/Zuffa: $90,000 Las Vegas Sands $75,000 Fidelity National $61,600 Marnell Companies LLC $55,000
INDY FAST FACTS Dan Schwartz Job: State treasurer Party: Republican In current office: 2015-present Birthdate: July 28, 1950 Education: Princeton University (B.A.) Columbia University (M.B.A.) Boston University (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $1,127,567 (9/16/13-12/31/17) Top donors: Dan Schwartz $1,000,353 Pritzker (Anthony, Karen, Jenny) $20,603 Schwartz (Stephen, Yanan, Dana) $15,000
INDY FAST FACTS Scott Hammond Job: State senator, District 18 Party: Republican In current office: 2012-present Birthdate:  December 20, 1966 Education: University of Nevada, Las Vegas (B.A., M.A.) Other public offices held: Assemblyman, District 13 (2010-2012) Total donations: $804,734 (2011-2017) Top donors: Las Vegas Sands $30,000 MGM Resorts International $20,000 New Nevada PAC $15,000 Boyd Gaming $14,000 Nevada Subcontractors Assn PAC $12,500 Station Casinos $12,500
INDY FAST FACTS Jacky Rosen Job: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District Party: Democrat In current office: 2017-present Birthdate: August 2, 1957 Education: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (B.A.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $3,220,875 (2017-2018) Top donors: EMILY's List $178,768 League of Conservation Voters $80,270 DE Shaw & Co $66,800 Omni New York $32,400 Varian Medical Systems $23,100 Last Report: 12/31/17 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Chris Giunchigliani Job: Clark County Commissioner Party: Democrat In current office: 2007-present Birthdate: November 27, 1954 Education: Avila College (B.A.) University of Nevada, Las Vegas (M.A.) Other public offices held: State Assemblywoman, District 9 (1991-2006) Total donations: $1,920,870 (5/08/13-12/31/17) Top donors: Giunchigliani (Chris, Jeanne, JM, Larry, Myrna, Ellen): $65,000 MGM Resorts International $43,165 Caesars Entertainment $35,000 Buck and Aurora Wong $30,000 South Point Hotel & Casino/F&M Advertising $30,000
INDY FAST FACTS Dean Heller Job: U.S. Senator Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: May 10, 1960 Education: University of Southern California (B.A.) Other public offices held: Member of the U.S. House of Representatives Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (2007-2011) Nevada Secretary of State (1995-2007) State Assemblyman (1990-1994) Total donations: $21,463,574 (2005-2018) Top donors: Station Casinos $115,200 Votesane PAC $92,000 MGM Resorts International $74,000 Blackstone Group $48,400 Capital Group $38,800 Credit: Center for Responsive Politics
INDY FAST FACTS Adam Laxalt Job: Nevada State Attorney General Party: Republican In current office: 2015-present Birthdate: August 31, 1978 Education: Georgetown University (B.A.) Georgetown University Law Center (J.D.) Other public offices held: None Total donations: $5,985,508 (1/08/14 - 12/31/17) Top donors: Station Casinos/Zuffa/Fertitta $208,500 Las Vegas Sands $75,000 Marnell Properties LLC $42,500 Starpoint Resort Group/Partners $40,000 MGM Resorts $35,000
INDY FAST FACTS Brian Sandoval Job: Nevada Governor Party: Republican In current office: 2011-present Birthdate: August 5, 1963 Education: University of Nevada, Reno (B.A.) Ohio State University (J.D.) Other public offices held: U.S. District Court Judge (2005-2009) Nevada State Attorney General (2003-2005) Nevada Gaming Commission Chair (1999-2001) Nevada Gaming Commission Member (1998-2001) State Assemblyman, District 25 (1994-1998) Total donations: $4,984,248 (1/07/11 - 7/5/17) Top donors: Caesars Entertainment $245,000 Station Casinos $158,072 MGM Resorts International $160,000 Wynn Resorts $80,000 Marnell Properties LLC $70,000
Donate Now
get our morning newsletter,
the daily indy
Correct Us
Ideas & Story Tips

INDYMATTERS

    POPULAR ARTICLES

      CAFECITO CON LUZ

        EN ESPAÑOL

          INDY BLOG

            @TheNVIndy ON TWITTER

              7455 Arroyo Crossing Suite 220 Las Vegas, NV 89113
              The Nevada Independent is a project of: Nevada News Bureau, Inc. | Federal Tax ID 27-3192716
              © 2018 THE NEVADA INDEPENDENT