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STEVE SEBELIUS: Is Nevada losing its edge?

What’s happening to Nevada?

The Silver State is known for legal gambling, breathtaking Western vistas, outdoor recreation and, in certain rural counties, legal prostitution.

But we’re also known for our quirky politics, things that happen here that just don’t, or wouldn’t, or couldn’t happen elsewhere.

Lately, however, it seems like other states are outpacing us. And we’re really going to need to catch up.

For example: We have an outspoken, conservative candidate running for attorney general, Sigal Chattah, who mused in a text message to a person she thought was a friend that incumbent Attorney General Aaron Ford — who is Black — should be “hanging from a (expletive) crane.” Yes, the supposedly private comment was deliberately made public to embarrass Chattah. Yes, Chattah apparently uses the phrase all the time, even about herself. It’s still fairly breathtaking.

But in Texas, there’s an outspoken, conservative incumbent attorney general who is actually running for re-election while under federal indictment. That hasn’t happened in Nevada, at least not yet.

Speaking of Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore, she once shocked the entire Assembly and was sent to her room after she exclaimed on the floor to another member “sit your ass down!” She was temporarily expelled from the chamber and later made to apologize.

But in Washington, D.C., Congresswomen Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., heckled the president of the United States during the State of the Union, like they were drunken soccer moms enjoying a rowdy night out at the Comedy Store. Nobody in Nevada ever thought to heckle the governor during a State of the State.

Which is not to say he doesn’t get heckled. Gov. Steve Sisolak was confronted in a restaurant recently by a man angry in part over pandemic restrictions, which included until recently a mandate to wear a mask indoors.

But in Florida, the governor of the state yelled at children for wearing masks. That’s some next-level craziness that no Nevada governor, past or present, would ever dream of doing.

The worst thing is, it used to be us setting the trends.

When the late carpetbagging Hollywood producer Aaron Russo came to Nevada to run for governor against Republican Kenny Guinn in the primary in 1998, an unhinged videotaped rant helped take the air out of his sails.

That was long before ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean nipped his 2004 presidential run in the bud with the infamous “Dean scream,” which made some people think he was unhinged. And we can’t have unhinged people in the White House.

Speaking of Donald Trump, years before his old interview with “Access Hollywood” was revealed in 2016, then gubernatorial candidate Jim Gibbons was allegedly actually trying to grab a cocktail waitress on a rainy Friday the 13th in 2006. Gibbons denied the charges, and video evidence — released after a suspiciously long delay — backed him up. And, in an only-in-Nevada twist, Gibbons won the governor’s race a little more than three weeks after the alleged incident.

Boy, those were the days Nevada.

It used to be Nevada was the only place you could go in the country to gamble. Now, legal gambling is nearly everywhere, including your cellphone. It used to be that Nevada was the only state where you could legally elect “none of these candidates” on your ballot. Now, nobodies regularly win office and go on to object to perfectly legal Electoral College votes.

Nevada, we’ve got to get our quirky groove back. We’ve got to do something to prove to the rest of the nation that we have not lost our ability to shock, surprise, disgust and amuse, usually all at the same time. There’s got to be something we’ve done that no other state can match, so that when people think crazy political antics, they think Nevada.

Well, hold on a second.

In 2018, Nevadans in the 36th Assembly District did elect a dead pimp to office: Dennis Hof, who was found deceased at his signature Love Ranch South brothel in Pahrump a full three weeks before Election Day that year.

Sure, other states have elected dead people over live people before. But a pimp? Who was found dead in a brothel? His body discovered by a porn star? Mourned by, among others, Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and Fox News’ Tucker Carlson? And who then went on to win the general election by a margin of 63 percent to 37 percent, despite the disability of no longer being alive?

Oh, Nevada. You’ve still got it. Don’t ever change.

Contact Steve Sebelius at SSebelius@reviewjournal.com. Follow @SteveSebelius on Twitter.

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