Magazine article Insight on the News

Rise of Liberals in Las Vegas Brings GOP Fear and Loathing. (Fair Comment)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Rise of Liberals in Las Vegas Brings GOP Fear and Loathing. (Fair Comment)

Article excerpt

George W. Bush may be the last Republican presidential candidate to carry Nevada. One of the nation's fastest-growing states, Nevada officially put Bush 43 over the top in the Electoral College balloting in 2000. But his narrow 2 percentage point victory over feckless Al Gore likely was the last hurrah for the Grand Old Party in this land of neon and sagebrush.

Breaking down the vote, Gore lost 16 of Nevada's 17 counties. But he carried Clark County (better known as Las Vegas) by some 20,000 votes. Home to roughly two-thirds of the state's residents, Clark County has a hefty and expanding Democratic registration of 248,799, compared with 213,104 registered Republicans--while the rest of the state still tilts Republican.

The problem for Republicans, and everyone else in Nevada, is that metastasizing Las Vegas will have 85 percent of the state's population by the end of this decade. By that time, Clark County could own three congressional seats while the rest of the state shares one.

Prominent among the wave of newcomers to Las Vegas are senior citizens and immigrants, both legal and illegal. The elderly and those younger than age 15 (mainly minority) constitute the fastest-growing segments of Clark County. While the old folks blow their Social Security checks at neighborhood casinos, the local school system bursts at the seams. Now the nation's sixth largest, it recently became a majority-minority district. Reconquista is well under way.

In this emerging multicultural mecca, change comes faster than from a loose slot machine. The University of Nevada-Las Vegas mascot may be a musket-toting antebellum rebel, but the prototypical Vegas wage slave is a Mexican maid making beds in some of the city's 130,000 hotel rooms. A member of the Culinary Union, she has no high-school education, speaks little English and might, or might not, have a bona fide green card.

Big Labor, along with Big Gaming (as gambling is called here), has transformed Las Vegas into a 21st century Detroit. Robust union growth--and the resultant Democratic Party hegemony--makes Las Vegas a popular stop for bosses from the AFL-CIO, National Education Association and, of course, the Teamsters (some things never change). National politicians, mainly Democrats, regularly swoop in to pick up campaign cash from the corporate suites along the Strip. Feted at numerous local fund-raisers, Bill Clinton handily carried Nevada in 1992 and 1996. …

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