It happens like clockwork.
Candidates announce their bids for office. Then the attack ads follow in short order, unabashedly targeting their voting records and more.
We’re here to help. The Nevada Independent already produces fact-checks for political advertisements and off-the-cuff remarks, but we also want to get ahead of the campaign game.
When politicians announce their candidacy for public office, we’ll roll out “On the Record” — our look at their voting history and stances on a broad array of subjects.
Now up: Former Republican Rep. Cresent Hardy, who announced a bid for the 4th Congressional District seat in January, following news that Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen will not run for re-election. Issues are in alphabetical order.
“I’m against abortion completely,” Hardy said in an interview with The Nevada Independent.
In 2015, Hardy voted in favor of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would have banned abortions past 20 weeks of gestation unless a woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest that had been reported to authorities. The measure passed the House but died after it was not taken up by the Senate.
Asked whether he’s enthusiastic that President Donald Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and that a majority-conservative high court could possibly overturn the seminal 1973 abortion rights ruling Roe v. Wade, Hardy lauded the pick.
“I believe that he is going to be a great Supreme Court justice. I think he’s thoughtful, considerate and he is a constitution individual that wants to follow the constitution and that should matter to both parties,” Hardy said. “He may not have made all of the people happy all the time but that’s probably the right thing to do sometimes.”
But he said he doubted that a newly constituted court would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Hardy said that people who pursue education beyond high school are making an individual choice. He noted that he doesn’t have a degree, although he did some coursework at Dixie State College in Southern Utah.
“I’ve been very successful and blessed in my life and it’s all because of hard work more than anything out there,” he said.
He said students who pursue higher education “choose whether you want that debt or not … and you have a responsibility to pay it back.”
“I am believer that you can go to some of these more state colleges and universities and get the same quality education you can at these big high dollar universities and be very successful in life,” he said.
Hardy said he didn’t have specific plans to propose legislation on federal Pell grants or similar financial aid programs.
Hardy voted to repeal Obamacare in 2015 — the House passed the measure but it didn’t make it to the Senate. He said he thinks states should have the authority to decide how to deal with health care.
“What I’d really like to do is if we’re going to do something with this, turn it over to the state and let them decide what they want in health care,” Hardy said. “I don’t think it’s a federal responsibility or issue. Never have felt that it was the responsibility of the federal government … Let the states solve their issues and [they] can do it a whole lot better than the federal government can with a one size fits all program.”
Asked if Nevada should retain its health insurance exchange — in which people can buy insurance plans and receive subsidies from the federal government — Hardy deferred to the Legislature.
“If Nevada decides that beneficial for Nevada and the state Legislature, let the state Legislature figure that one out and do the studies and analysis on it, but on a state by state basis,” he said. “That’s why I really believe that it’s wrong the federal government gets involved, which I believe is usurping its authority over the state’s opportunities.”
Hardy blamed Obamacare for a lack of health-care options in rural counties, including the closure of rural hospitals. He pointed to legislation he supported with a representative from Alabama that sought to address the issue, but also noted that reduced services is a reality in rural areas.
“When you live in a rural community, you don’t have full health care so you’re going to have to go somewhere else eventually,” he said.
Hardy says he wants a fix for DACA — the program that gives young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children legal status and permission to work. In Congress, his voting record was mixed; he voted in favor of an amendment that would have defunded President Barack Obama’s never-implemented DAPA program that would give legal status to DREAMers’ parents, but also broke rank with Republicans in voting to preserve funding for DACA.
He signed onto an open letter last year calling for Congress to protect DREAMers before 2017 ended. But he doesn’t favor a standalone DACA solution that wouldn’t include other immigration changes.
“I know the other side would just like to have DACA by itself. But it doesn’t solve the problem that caused the DACA challenge in the first place,” he said.
Hardy said Trump’s four-pillared immigration platform was “perfect.” The pillars included border security (including $25 billion for a border wall), legal status for DACA recipients and a path to citizenship after 10-12 years if they meet work and education requirements, and the end of the “diversity lottery” program that allocates up to 50,000 green cards each year for people from countries with low rates of emigration to the U.S.
It would also further limits on green card holders or U.S. citizens sponsoring their relatives’ immigration to America (also known as “chain migration”).
As for a wall, Hardy said it’s not necessary to extend a wall across the entirety of the southern border, but that it should accomplish the goal of secure borders that keeps drugs and terrorism at bay.
He wants the visa programs to be “more functional and more responsible in tracking people once they’ve come here and overstayed it.” He pointed out that there’s demand for skilled tradesmen right now in Nevada, but that they need a visa so “they’re not afraid to go back to their country.”
Overall, he doesn’t see a big need to reduce legal immigration.
“I think we have a strong, viable economy like we have right now. We’re already seeing the challenges of people being able to come here. I don’t want to reduce it,” he said. “We need to process people better and faster and give them that opportunity. But I want people to come here to be American citizens and to assimilate into our society and understand, you know, many people have immigrated here before. They come here to be Americans.”
Hardy said he didn’t vote in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, “but the people of Nevada did and so I support what the people of Nevada are voting for. So it’s my obligation to make sure that those people that have invested in those legislative laws of Nevada that we make it work.”
He said he wants to ensure that banking issues are resolved “because it’s putting people’s lives in danger.”
Most banks won’t do business with marijuana companies because the substance is still illegal at the federal level, so the businesses run on an all-cash basis. And he supports taking marijuana off of the list of Schedule 1 controlled substances, which means it’s currently considered a drug with no acceptable medical use and classified on par with heroin.
“Take it off the books. Let the states handle it,” he said. “They also get to deal with the health-care side of it. They get to deal with the enforcement side of it.”
Hardy does not support raising the minimum wage, which stands at $7.25 per hour at the federal level but can be as high as $8.25 an hour in Nevada if the employer doesn’t offer health insurance.
“Minimum wage is fine right where it’s at. We’re already way above in Nevada, way above the minimum wage mostly in most areas of entry level jobs,” he said. “When you put minimum wage goals and standards on it, you can destroy upcoming and starting new small businesses and you also destroy the opportunity for our youth to learn how to enter into the workforce.”
Hardy opposed Obama’s move to designate vast tracts of land into the Gold Butte and Basin and Range national monuments at the end of 2016, and has argued that monuments should be as small as possible to protect elements of cultural interest, such as petroglyphs.
“I really have a problem with the President using that as a tool, a pat on their back for the future,” he said about Obama’s use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to make the monument designations. “I think many people don’t understand that it’s public lands now but you turn it into a national monument, it now becomes a government land which is controlled by the federal government, which is controlled by administrators, which can regulate way beyond our ability to use and enjoy … Gold Butte.”
He wants federally managed land turned over to state control, but he said he’s a pragmatic and doesn’t think there will be a wholesale transfer of all the federally managed land in Nevada back to the state. The federal government manages more than 80 percent of the land within Nevada’s borders.
“I absolutely support the state’s control of federal lands. I think Nevadans understand better about whether they want their parks and recreation,” he said. But, “It’s going to take little changes and little opportunities.”
He decried the challenges of the federal government owning a large portion of land in Nevada, even in populated areas.
“We have a real challenge to continue to have entry level housing because we always have to turn around and buy it from the federal government at top dollar,” he said. “How do you get entry level housing or good commercial or industrial properties available for jobs and the economy when you spend more on land than you would on structures and facilities themselves?”
He’d like Nevada to be an experiment in which land managers send the same amount of money they’ve used to manage public lands to state officials.
“I think we’d do a better job for less than the federal government does,” he said.
Hardy describes reducing the national debt as one of his biggest priorities because, he says, it will affect posterity. The U.S. currently owes more than $21 trillion, while the budget deficit for fiscal year 2018 — the amount of revenue is expected to fall short of expenditures — is an estimated $833 billion.
“The deficit … is real,” Hardy said. “It’s a real challenge and we’ve got to figure out how to fix our unfunded obligations for the future … Every percentage when it goes up increases the opportunity of just going broke.”
Still, he supports the Republican tax overhaul that was projected to raise the national debt by $1.9 trillion over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The agency says the bill will cost the U.S. $2.3 trillion in potential revenue, but that economic growth spurred by the tax cuts will help offset that by an estimated $461 billion.
Hardy, like many Republican supporters of the overhaul, believes the cuts will essentially pay for themselves in the form of economic growth.
“Great thing. The economy is moving,” he said about the bill. “Guess what? When the economy is moving it will generate more money than taxes will … It’s simple math for me.”
His plan to tackle the debt would be to continue doing pursuing legislation like the tax bill.
“We can go further,” he said. “There was a lot of things that were taken out that I wish would have been left in.”
Trade and Tariffs
Hardy supports Trump’s controversial decision to impose tariffs — taxes on imports that protect domestic businesses and disadvantage the foreign competition — on Chinese goods. That in turn has triggered China to impose tariffs on American goods.
“You know what, I’m going to give the president latitude. He’s having success at what he’s doing,” he said. “I think that the tariffs and stuff, if he’s using them as a tool to get free trade, you know, fair trade at both ends, that’s what I want, I think, if you get it to where nobody’s having a tariff on either side.”
As part of a dispute over China’s high-tech industrial policies, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese products. China has retaliated with tariffs on soybeans and pork, which prompted agriculture officials to announce an aid program to help American farmers affected by the dispute.
“It’s been unfair competition and unfair trade. It’s been a deficit between our trade,” Hardy said. “So if he can draw that closer … I’m going to support him on those issues as long as I can and … he told [us] in the beginning it’s going to hurt for a little while sometimes but we’re going to win at the end.”
Asked if he supports measures to give Congress more latitude on trade issues, Hardy said that’s already in the Constitution. Indeed, the Constitution tasks Congress with the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” But Trump has wide latitude to unilaterally impose tariffs on countries using exceptions for wartime, for example, and powers over trade have increasingly been concentrated with the executive branch.
“At the end of the day we have the obligation to prove trade policies in the Congress,” Hardy said. “Once any president starts to overreach then we’ve got to push back.”
Hardy has been more open than others in Nevada’s congressional delegation about considering storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, which is located in the 4th Congressional District.
“I want Nevadans to decide on it. I want them to actually spend the time, the effort to look at it and see the, the value versus the dangers, see the science … and let’s have that open discussion. Let’s have a discussion where Nevadans understand it instead of politicians using it as a political pawn … much like immigration.”
He says it’s hypocritical for some to say the federal government should continue managing lands within Nevada, but not have decision-making authority about placing Yucca in Nevada.
“Is it Nevada lands today? Is it federal lands? They have authority, Congress has authority to determine what they want to do and it’s because,” he said. “I fear it’s going to be shoved down our throat if we don’t wake up. But I’ll support whatever Nevadans want to do.”
Ultimately, he supports consent-based siting of Yucca Mountain, where authorities in Nevada have a say in the decision about locating the repository in the state. That’s a concept backed by both Democratic and Republican members of Nevada’s congressional delegation.
“I want that consent-based, but understand it’s federal land,” he said. “You’re not going to get that from the majority of the Congress.”