By Mark Waite
U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., announced this week that Nye County Commissioner Joni Eastley will be the Nye County chairman of his election campaign.
Statewide Heller announced 450 co-chairs for the Heller for Senate campaign, Eastley is the only co-chairman for Nye County. Others include State Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, from Churchill County; Esmeralda County Commissioner Bill Kirby will be a co-chairman from his county; Valley Electric Association lobbyist Susan Fisher is listed as one of 234 co-chairmen from Washoe County; U.S. Congressional candidates Danny Tarkanian and Barbara Cegavske have both signed on as co-chairman of the Clark County committee along with 158 others.
Heller said these individuals are the beginning of a growing team that will continue to drive the momentum of his grass roots campaign.
“I’m honored that so many committed Nevadans have chosen to join our campaign. We are building the team that will win in November. With their help, I can fight for effective solutions to create jobs and turn the economy around. We can hold Washington D.C. accountable for its reckless spending and rein in a government that has run out of control. No question that the hard work, influence and creativity of these individuals will push us over the edge to victory,” Heller said.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval joins former First Lady Dema Guinn, former U.S. Sen. Paul Laxalt and former Congresswoman Barbara Vucanovich as statewide co-chairs.
Eastley said she got a call from Washington D.C. with the invitation, even though she’s not a member of the Nye County Republican Party Central Committee.
“They called me from Washington and asked me if I would help them in this regard. I considered how much time it would take and had some other regards. I told them yes I would do it and was pleased I was the first person they called,” Eastley said.
Speculation has abounded about what Eastley will do after she steps down from the county commission in January due to term limits. Eastley didn’t file to run for any political offices. She has been a county commissioner for 12 years and before that served on the Round Mountain town board.
Eastley was asked about her support for Senator Heller, despite his admission he voted for a Republican budget in March 2011 that would gut the loan guarantee program, which made the SolarReserve project a reality. Republicans identified $10 billion in unspent money from the economic stimulus, which funded Section 1705 of the Energy Policy Act providing the loan guarantees for renewable energy projects.
“SolarReserve was already so far into the process with the loan guarantee program that even if the program had been gutted, I doubt very seriously if it would’ve affected SolarReserve because they’re that far along. In some ways his decision has certainly been vindicated by some of the things that happened in the industry,” Eastley said.
She was referring to the $535 million loan guarantee for Solyndra, a California company producing solar panels which filed for bankruptcy last August, laying off 1,000 workers. It was one of the first projects awarded a loan guarantee, part of the Obama administration’s $40 billion in funding for clean energy projects.
In comments at the 2011 Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner, Heller said about the loan guarantee program: “it’s one of those things that we’re out of money. We’re really out of money. You know there’s no more leprechauns running around. It’s just very, very difficult to find the money to do it. It’s not the lack of desire or the urge for projects to happen. The problem is that right now the federal government is near bankruptcy.”
SolarReserve was eventually able to land a $737 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of the Energy announced in September just before the program ended. The project is estimated to create 600 construction jobs in the Tonopah area.
In a brief summary of why she is supporting Heller, Eastley said: “Enforcing immigration laws that are already on the books, supporting the state of Israel as a loyal ally of the United States, and being the only member of Nevada’s delegation to vote against the bailouts are only a few of the reasons I am supporting Sen. Heller’s election.
“America is in a hole that gets deeper by the day and it will take someone with Sen. Heller’s resolve to work with other like-minded representatives to force the federal government to live within its means — just like you and I have to.”