A blog on progressive news and politics on both the California and Nevada sides of Lake Tahoe which aims at helping to elect Democrats and Turn Tahoe Blue. The blog is written from Germany by a former German exchange student at George Whittell High School in Zephyr Cove, Nevada.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

"Maybe We Need a Waitress in Congress"

The race between Republican Congressman Jon Porter and Democrat Tessa Hafen in NV-03 (the suburbs of Las Vegas) has been one of the closest in the country with 48.46% for Porter and 46.57% for Hafen and Porter winning by less than 4,000 votes. Therefore, it's not surprising that Democrats, both in DC and in Nevada, are looking for another serious challenger to Porter after Hafen, a former aide to Sen. Reid, declined to run again. Last week, another potential contender, 2006 gubernatorial nominee and State Sen. Min. Leader Dina Titus, took herself out of the running leaving the field with one announced candidate and two others seriously considering.

Thus far only
Andrew Martin has announced his intention to run. He's an accountant making his first run for elected office and would be Nevada's first openly gay member of Congress. He's fairly unknown, though, and I'm not sure if he'd be able to raise the funds necessary for a successful run. Another potential candidate is Larry Lehrner, a nephrologist, a former Republican who does not even live in the district but is nontheless taken very seriously because he's married to Shelley Berkley, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley that is. A married couple representing two districts of one state in Congress, I don't think we've had that before and I'm not sure we'd want that.

So, maybe it's time for a waitress in Congress.

There has been speculation that
Maggie Carlton, a state senator since 1999 is interested in running and this past weekend she confirmed this:
"My husband and I have been talking about it for a while," she said. "We might try it. I don't think it's too far fetched."

Carlton, a waitress at the Treasure Island resort, said she wants to talk it over with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and her supporters at home before she makes a decision.

"He's my congressman, and I don't like some of the things he's done," she said of Porter. "Maybe we need a waitress in Congress, not an insurance guy."

Yup, you read that right, a waitress. Nevada's legislature is only in session for four months every other year, meaning legislators have to keep their job after being elected and work to make a living. Wonder how Maggie Carlton does it? So did NPR a year ago. You can listen to their profile of Maggie Carlton here.

Maggie Carlton represents the working people of Las Vegas and Nevada in the State Senate. One co-worker says:

We got somebody speaking for us on a higher level. [...] She'll bring up the questions that other senators probably wouldn't bring up because they don't know about nine-to-five working people. [...] If Maggie wouldn't be doing it who would do it?

So, you could argue she's too valuable in the State Senate and should stay put. However, term limits were introduced in Nevada which means she cannot stand for re-election in 2010. Having her speak for the nine-to-five people in Congress might not be such a bad idea.

How could she win? We know the district is competitive, Porter is vulnerable. She'd have one distinctive advantage: the Culinary Union Local 226 - the most powerful union in Nevada, so powerful that the Culinary's endorsement might swing the presidential contest in the Nevada Caucus next year. Maggie Carlton is not only a member of the Culinary Union and a Culinary Local No. 226 Shop Steward, she says she was actually encouraged to run for the State Senate by the Culinary:
They wanted someone who clocked in for a living and who understood: running to PTA meetings, trying to do the girl scout thing, getting kids to school on time, all those types of things.

Maggie Carlton has been doing her day-job for 30 years now, maybe it's time she put down that 40 pound tray not just for 120 days every other year but permanently and take her experience to Washington.

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