sex appeal and Sen. Frankie Sue
Expanded from the 8-29-99 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
Frankie Sue Del Papa will easily win election to the United States Senate over John Ensign in November Y2K.
Week after week, I witness witless commentary about the perils of Del Papa. One rumor circulating recently had Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., calling billionaire Las Vegas Sun publisher Brian Greenspun to discuss Greenspun switching from Republican to Democrat for the senate race.
Fantasyland. A more plausible scenario is the candidacy of TV ambulance chaser Ed Bernstein. A few years back, a pollster asked voters "who is the attorney general of Nevada?"
Television-saturated respondents overwhelmingly replied "Edward M. Bernstein and Associates."
This far in front of an election, I'm about as disinterested as the average voter. But so many have missed the obvious that I feel obligated to ante into the game.
Herewith, the until now unwritten reasons why Nevada will soon send Senator Frankie Sue back east.
Read More About It
For the conventional wisdom about this race, see Mr. Bernstein goes to D.C.
by Jon Ralston
Las Vegas Review Journal August 29, 1999
THE BUCK STOPS HERE. Maybe others really believe that the gambling industry's purchase of the statehouse for Gov. Dudley Do-Right means that the size of a campaign's checking account trumps all other factors. But Del Papa will not need to match Ensign's fortune.
She began running for office before her birth certificate was signed. Born in Hawthorne and raised in Tonopah, she attended high school in Las Vegas and became student body president at UNR.
Last year, her name identification polled higher than anyone in the state. Just about everybody knows and remembers the name Frankie Sue. And that's gold in politics.
As legendary Boston Mayor James Michael Curley once said, "I could elect Judas Iscariot. The name is familiar."
THE GENDER GAP. Lost in the recount backwash last November was a little noted statistic. According to exit polls, incumbent U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Rep. John Ensign, R-Las Vegas, equally split the female vote.
The issue of abortion never came up in the vicious senate campaign, but women somehow found out that when it came to their keystone issue, there was no choice between two anti-choice men. [UPDATE: A reverse perception was actually the case. Since neither Reid nor Ensign made an issue of abortion, polls showed that women assumed they were both pro-choice. The result was the same a push.]
Del Papa will open 2000 with a gender gap which will grow to Grand Canyon proportions, perhaps 15 to 20 percentage points, by November.
That alone will make Ensign unelectable.
SEX DISCRIMINATION. Nevada women have an annoying habit of voting for women just because of their gender.
My old adversary, Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev., could count on a substantial women's vote just because of her first name and despite her opposition to everything of benefit to women save breast cancer prevention.
Dustbuster Rule Redux
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST. For years, I have preached the Barbano Dustbuster Rule of Politics. Anyone who has lost a high profile race must allow the dust to settle for at least four years before running again.
The hills are littered with the bones of those who've flouted the Dustbuster Curse.
Republican Lt. Gov. Ed Fike lost to U.S. Sen. Alan Bible, D-Nev, in 1968, then lost the governorship to Democrat Mike O'Callaghan in 1970.
In 1974, Democrat Lt. Gov. Harry Reid lost to Republican Paul Laxalt in the contest to replace the retiring Bible. Reid then ran for Las Vegas mayor in 1975 and lost to Bill Briare.
In 1972, Las Vegas University of Nevada Regent James Bilbray engineered one of the biggest political upsets of the century, taking the Democratic primary nomination from longtime incumbent Congressman Walter Baring. Bilbray promptly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by losing the November election to Republican one-term-wonder David Towell.
In 1974, Bilbray ran for lieutenant governor, only to lose to Washoe County Dist. Atty. Bob Rose in the Democratic primary.
In 1980, the late State Sen. Mary Gojack, D-Reno, lost the U.S. Senate race against incumbent Laxalt. Two years later, she blew a 22.5 point lead in the last month to lose to Vucanovich for the newly-created second congressional district seat.
Vucanovich herself figures in one minor burp in this scenario. Her 1986 opponent, Reno Mayor Pete Sferrazza, rebounded from his loss to Vucanovich to win re-election to city hall the following year. Sferrazza differed from the rest in that he is the only one who ran as an incumbent.
You have to go back to 1966, when the state was much smaller, to find a guy who beat the Dustbuster. In that year, Republican Lt. Gov. Paul Laxalt defeated two-term incumbent Democratic Gov. Grant Sawyer. Two years before, Laxalt lost to U.S. Sen. Howard Cannon, D-Nev., by 84 votes.
Laxalt's win was still an aberration. Sawyer had been weakened in the Democratic primary by Atty. Gen. Charles Springer who ran against Sawyer just because the guv sought a third term.
TWOFER ONE. John Ensign might be able to defeat Frankie Sue Del Papa one on one, but because he dares defy the Dustbuster, Ensign will face two opponents next year: Attorney General Del Papa and Sen. Reid.
Some voters will vote for Del Papa just because of residual animosity lingering from the Reid race. Ensign will not have given himself time to shake off the noxious dust of '98. That could be the difference in a close race.
If you can get odds amid the chorus of casino shills saying Ensign can't be beaten, bet Del Papa to dust Ensign.
Be well. Raise hell.
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Copyright © 1999, 2008, 2009 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News where the past three years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988 where an earlier version of this column appeared on 8/29/99.
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