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Nevada Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian talks about the impact of the $10 bucks for Tark campaign, and why Harry Reid needs to go.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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HH: I’ve got to update you right now. A little over 23 hours ago, I suggested that if you were concerned about the general direction of this country, and specifically about Obamacare, that the best way to send a message to Washington was to tell Harry Reid to stop Obamacare, or you would support his opponent in next year’s election. His principal opponent right now is Danny Tarkanian. Danny Tarkanian of course played at the University of Nevada, Law Vegas Runnin’ Rebels years ago. He’s a lawyer from the University of San Diego. And since I made that announcement, a lot of you were listening. I’m overwhelmed myself. But to fill me in on what it’s like on the other side of it, Danny Tarkanian joins me from Las Vegas. Hi, Danny, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.

DT: Well, thank you. Thanks for having me on, and I sure appreciate your $10 for Tark campaign.

HH: Hey, tell me, is it working? Are people dialing in and sending in the dollars?

DT: Well, our website has been swamped with e-mails and contributions. It’s been just mind-boggling. I never would have dreamed we would have had this kind of response in less than, really, what is it, less than 15 hours.

HH: Yeah, you know what it is, is I think that your Senator, Harry Reid, the guy you’re running against, is a symbol of all that makes people uncomfortable about Washington, D.C. What are you going to make this campaign about, Danny Tarkanian?

DT: Well, that’s the first point right there. There’s been probably 15 to maybe 18 polls that have been taken in the past year, and one thing that has been consistent with each poll is a majority of Nevadans are tired of Senator Reid’s leadership, and they want a change. They’re tired of his partisan politics, name calling, his…we can go on and on about the different verbiage he’s been using whenever somebody doesn’t agree with him. I think the public wants to have someone who is going to work for the benefit of Nevada, not for the benefit of yourself or try to move up your party’s ladder so that you get to a higher position. They want someone who is going to step forward, be honest with them, be willing to fight for what’s right for the citizens of Nevada, and not worry so much about where that person’s going to be in their party leadership. And I will bring that to the table.

HH: Danny, give our audience some bio. I’ve read your bio over at the website, www.tark2010.org, and people can contribute there. If they can’t remember that, Hughhewitt.com has the link. Tell people about your life.

DT: Well, I grew up in Las Vegas. My dad was the basketball coach there at UNLV, and I followed him and went to college at UNLV, and played for the first number one ranked basketball team in the school’s history in 1982-83. I graduated from UNLV as a two-time academic all-American with high honors. I went to law school at the University of San Diego, and I finished third in my class, magnum cum laude, came back to Las Vegas, practiced law for seven years. When my father got the job at Fresno State, I decided to go and coach with him there. It was sort of an unusual move. But my dad was getting older in his career, and my family and I felt it would be good for someone to go up and work with him. And the fact that I played with him, I decided to do so. So I coached with him for seven years in Fresno, came back to Las Vegas, and I went to law school to get into public service. My mother’s been a public servant now for over twenty years, first as a school board member, and now as a city councilwoman. And I’ve always…and I grew up during the Reagan years, and he really got me motivated into wanting to get involved in politics. So when I moved back to Las Vegas, I decided to run for office. I ran for a state senate seat, was unsuccessful, but I ran in a district that had 20% more Democrats in a very tough year. And I was leading in all the polls coming to the end, and I got beat. Then I ran for the Secretary of State race just three years ago against the governor’s son, a ten year governor, and we had a very close race, and he ended up beating me at the end also. But since that time, during that time while I was running for office, I started a real estate company, and doing some real estate work for the past seven or eight years.

HH: You know, Danny, the fact that you’ve run and lost doesn’t deter me at all, because John Thune ran and lost against Tim Johnson the first time. It teaches you how to campaign. You must have been all over Nevada by now.

DT: Yeah, we travel. I mean, my wife and I, we’ve traveled all over the state. In fact, I have a little six year old daughter who’s been in thirteen parades. She’s been in parades from the small town of Goldfield to parades in Las Vegas. It’s been an interesting experience. But more so than Daschle and Thune, one of the issues that Senator Reid has brought up is the fact that if Danny’s lost these races, why does he think he can win the Senate race. Well, Senator Reid lost two straight races before he won his first race for Congress, including a third place finish for the mayor’s race. So it’s sort of ironic that he’d want to use that when he himself experienced those two straight defeats.

HH: Well, you’ve had these two town hall meetings. How important is Obamacare to the people of Nevada?

DT: It’s unbelievable the passion and the interest going on in Nevada. You know, I thought not being an elected official, and just coming out and holding a town hall, we hoped that we would get fifty to a hundred people, they’d come in and give some good suggestions on what they think. But we had 340 people. It was incredible. We only announced it two days before. You couldn’t fit any more people in the space. We had a lot of people there that…Senator Reid’s campaign sent out an e-mail blast encouraging his supporters to come out and ask Danny Tarkanian tough questions on why he doesn’t support the reform of health insurance that will lower your costs. So they came out and they tried to hit me with some tough questions, and we hit them right back. And it was very successful. I thought everybody there thought it was run well, and we took every question that they wanted to ask us, and we responded to them.

HH: Now of course, he’s going to raise $25 million dollars, Danny Tarkanian. I doubt you’re going to be able to match him dollar for dollar. But do you have to?

DT: No, you don’t have to, and the great thing about that is I had a friend of mine the other day, we were talking, and he said Harry Reid is so disliked in Nevada that $25 million dollars can’t make people like him. The only way that $25 million’s going to work is if he can make people dislike his opponent more than they dislike him. And we know that’s a tactic he’ll use. He’s used that throughout his career, is to try to tear down people as opposed to build himself up. But that’s what’s great about what you guys are doing. Wouldn’t it be great if you can beat a sitting Senate majority leader whose got $25 million dollars in the state of Nevada. The most that’s ever been raised in a Senate race is $7.5 million by Senator Reid last time. He’s going to have three or four times that. Wouldn’t it be great if we can beat Senator Reid by $10 dollar and $20 dollar and $25 dollar contributions from people throughout the country and show him that you don’t need the money from the special interest groups to be elected and represent the constituency?

HH: You know, all they’re going to want in this race is that you’re not going to go along with the destruction of the fiscal sanity of America. And tell me, Danny, when you go out and campaign, do people want to talk about these deficits? It’s a trillion and a half dollars.

DT: Yeah, it’s very important to people, in Nevada more so than some other states. Nevada has always been a fiscally conservative state. We’ve had some people move in from California that you would think might be more into spending money on social programs and stuff, but they moved out of these other states to come into Nevada so that they would have less government interference, less government taxation, and they would be able to make up their own individual decisions on how they wanted to operate their life. And yes, it’s very passionate for people talking about the money that the government’s spending, and the bailouts, and the involvement government’s getting on our business and personal decisions now.

HH: I’m talking with Danny Tarkanian. He’s running against Harry Reid in Nevada. I’m urging everyone in my audience to send $10 bucks to Tark. www.tark2010.org, or go to Hughhewitt.com, click on the link there. And more important than your ten dollars, make it viral. Send an e-mail to all of your friends, and urge them to do it, and then send Harry Reid a note. I’ve linked his website as well. Tell him what you’ve done and why you’ve gone for Danny, and how he’s got to stop Obamacare and stop this spending. Danny, to win in Nevada, you’re going to need some Democrats. You’re going to need some union people. You’re going to need some of those employees in the casinos, you’re going to need some of the taxi drivers. Can you get their votes?

DT: Yeah, well first of all, Nevada has 22% independents. And there was a national poll done, that 70% of the independents were now siding with the Republicans on these issues. The further we go along, where we’re spending trillions of dollars to bail out industries, and the government’s trying to take over the health care system, these things that are passionate to independents, more of them are going to come over to our side. I do very well with the independents, and I do well with the soft Democrats in our state. I haven’t been a polarizing figure at all in my campaigns. I try to work with everybody. Now we may not agree with everything, but at least you sit there and you have civil discourse, you listen to what they have to say, and then you try to persuade them why your position’s right. And I’m very confident I will get a majority of those independents and soft Democrats.

HH: Do people remember how President Obama and the Democrats basically took a big bite out of the Nevada economy by discouraging travel?

DT: Yeah, that’s been the talk around the state a lot. I don’t know if it’s prevalent with the majority of citizens, but there are some that are really offended. If those comments Obama made definitely hurt us with a number of conventions that cancelled because of those comments, whether we’ve overcome that now, and we’ll get some of that back, we certainly hope so, because our economy is the worst it’s ever been in the history of our state.

HH: Well, Danny Tarkanian, I’ll be over there for the Blog World Expo a little bit later in the month. I look forward to meeting you sometime soon. And in the meantime, I keep urging everyone $10 bucks for Tark. You can go to www.tark2010.org or Hughhewitt.com. Keep us posted on how the response goes, Danny.

DT: Well, it’s been overwhelming so far. I can’t thank you enough, and I can’t thank the people that are contributing these $10 and $20 dollars enough. It’s really going to make my campaign that much stronger for Harry Reid to beat.

HH: It’s an energizing moment. I appreciate your willingness to take on a towering figure, and one backed up by union trial lawyers, big bucks. It takes some great amount of courage. I’m not surprised it’s coming from a Running Rebel. Thanks so much, Danny Tarkanian.

End of interview.

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