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Nevada’s Blue Wave

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For most of the last 30 years, it’s been Republicans who have charted Nevada’s political destiny. The GOP won every governor’s election from 1998 until 2018 and usually controlled the state Senate. In the 2000s, the state went to George W. Bush twice, albeit by a few percentage points. Then, three years ago, Nevada Democrats did something remarkable.

Buoyed by a nationwide “blue wave” backlash to Trumpism, Nevada voters elected a Democratic governor, Steve Sisolak, and handed all but one of the statewide offices to Democrats. With majorities in both chambers of the state legislature, and the first majority-women legislature in the country, the party secured its first trifecta in state government since 1992. Nevada Democrats have drawn a road map of sorts for how progressives could govern other bluish-purple states when given the opportunity.

“I think folks sometimes get scared,” Nicole Cannizzaro, the state Senate majority leader, told me. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the Democrats or the Republicans, you’re like: Oh, it’s a trifecta, it’s going to be the end of the world. But hopefully, what you’re seeing is that we’re passing progressive policies. They’re addressing real issues. And yes, we’re getting them passed where previously they wouldn’t be able to make it over the finish line. But they’re actually nothing to be afraid of.”

A review of new laws passed in Nevada over the past three years reads like a progressive wish list. Since 2018, the state has abolished prison gerrymandering and the gay-panic defense, reformed its strict felony-disenfranchisement laws and decriminalized traffic enforcement, given collective-bargaining rights to state employees, and required state utility companies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 80 percent of 2005 levels in the next 10 years. Perhaps the most prescient law was the Trust Nevada Women Act, which removes criminal penalties for obtaining an abortion even if Roe v. Wade is struck down—a decision that could come as soon as next spring.

The Democrats’ flagship bill this session created a public option for health insurance, just the second measure of its kind in the nation. Though the law won’t take effect until 2026, Cannizzaro and........

© New Republic

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