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Interview: With Trump's Win, How Much Clout Will Nevada Carry?

Marcus Lavergne

Nevada went blue, but America went red. Our News Director Michelle Billman explores what that could mean for the state with Seth Richardson. He's the political reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal.

KUNR: First, Republican Donald Trump clinched the presidency even after most polls showed Clinton ahead near the end...what ultimately turned things around for his campaign?

Seth Richardson: I think there was just this surge of what’s called the “Rust Belt Rebellion” on Twitter because you look at these working class people, kind of middle America—the Wisconsins, the Michigans, and the Pennsylvanias of the world—and they really came out in full force for Donald Trump. He did really well in those states, not to mention taking Florida, and really built himself a cushion, or what appeared to be a cushion early on.

And I think, as far as the polling goes, it’s a classic case of under-polling a certain group that showed up more than anyone expected.

KUNR: You have a great article in Wednesday’s edition of the Reno Gazette-Journal that examines what Trump’s win means for the political establishment. What are your findings on that question?

SR: Well, it’s interesting. Trump is kind of this figurehead of the anti-establishment faction. We’ve heard it for so long, you know, down with the political establishment in Washington. And, here you go, you have Donald Trump, the sort of consummate political outsider who has now ascended to the presidency. He is the establishment now, in a way. The anti-establishment kind of took over.

What’s interested as it pertains to Nevada is you look and you have Republicans by and large—Brian Sandoval, Dean Heller—the only Republican who really got on the “Trump train” so to speak is Mark Amodei, so you have a state now that is losing Harry Reid as the senate minority leader once he retires and two top officials who really spurned the president, so what it means for Nevada as far as how much clout we have is still up in the air.

KUNR: You wonder how they’re all going to get along…

SR: You know, to his [Trump’s] credit, last night he talked about unity. He came out and it was very different from any of his rallies. He came out and said, ‘Republicans, Democrats, Independents, this is a time to come together.’ He even said in his speech, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of you who didn’t support me and I’m reaching out to you because we need to come together and I need guidance running the country.’ We’ll see if he lives by that mantra or not.

KUNR: Were you surprised that Nevada went blue for Clinton?

SR: No, I don’t think so. You had activists out in full force, driving out the early vote. You look at the breakdown, I think the Latino vote was somewhere around 18 percent of the vote. And that really speaks to the Reid machine, the turnout machine that he’s got here to get people to the polls.

It wasn’t that big of a surprise; they built a big cushion early on. Actually, I’m surprised it was as close as it was.

KUNR: Catherine Cortez Masto will be the first Latina in the U.S. Senate. Now that she's won the race, what do we really know about her policy priorities?

SR: Well, she’s mentioned taking on the big banks a little bit more. The big part of her message was sort of this, I don’t want to call it cookie cutter, but very broad, general Democratic platform with talking points that you hear a lot. So, what’s going to be the first thing she’s going to tackle? It’s going to have to be something that she can get done because she’s going to be in the minority, she’s going to be 100th in seniority in the senate; she might have a little bit of pull being the one who kept Reid’s seat blue.

She’s going to have to set up a really clear and concise, ‘OK, this is what I want to get done in my first term,’ and set out to do it. She’s going to need Democrats and Republicans to do whatever it is she wants to do. I wouldn’t be surprised to see education be something that she takes on; she talks about it a lot and I could see her taking that up.

KUNR: Seth, thanks for joining us.

SR: Thank you so much.

Michelle Billman is a former news director at KUNR Public Radio.
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