By Mark Waite
Jon “Bowzer” Bauman, former lead singer of the famous 1950s tribute band “Sha Na Na” flexed his muscle walking down Highway 160 during the Pahrump Fair and Festival parade.
Bauman flanked State Sen. Steven Horsford, D-North Las Vegas, who is in a tight race for the new fourth congressional district. The Bowzer, who just turned 65, was at a publicity event in Las Vegas last Thursday; he sported a T-shirt that said “no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Horsford’s opponent, Republican Danny Tarkanian, relied on family power, holding his young son in his arms while his wife Amy Tarkanian passed out leaflets to the crowd.
Nye County Commissioner Gary Hollis, who is running for re-election, rode in a shiny, yellow Corvette while Pahrump Justice of the Peace candidate Louis DeCanio buzzed along in a motorized wheelchair covered by an umbrella.
The 2012 election campaign wouldn’t be complete without appearances by politicians at the annual Pahrump Fair and Festival, though politicians were isolated in a separate row from the other vendors between the baseball diamond and the parking lot.
Pahrump town board member Harley Kulkin, a candidate for state senate, had a bus in the parade that said, “Pahrump has been ignored long enough.” It referred to his two opponents, pointing out Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, lives 340 miles away, while Independent American Party candidate Janine Hansen lives 450 miles away in Elko. Kulkin said he doesn’t take the bus on the road with him campaigning as it only gets eight miles per gallon.
Kulkin, who didn’t have a booth at the festival, worked out of the Progressive Democrats of America booth.
“As far as the festival is concerned, this makes me proud to be part of the town. We put this on for everybody. When I was walking around last night seeing all the smiles it really made it worthwhile from all the negative stuff we take sometimes,” Kulkin said.
He was excited about the unveiling of plans for the fairgrounds site this month, but declined to say whether that would improve his election chances.
“I think it will really give the town a boost and show we’ve been working hard for something good for the community. I think the people speaking out against it will be real embarrassed. How can you say you’re against something when you don’t know what it is?” Kulkin asked.
Goicoechea was at the festival on Friday and Saturday, before he had to head back to take care of his 700 head of cattle on his Eureka County ranch on Sunday.
“I feel very good about the campaign and the reception I’ve received here in Pahrump. I’ll be honest with you, I really didn’t really expect the quality and quantity of this fair here,” Goicoechea said.
A couple of polls gave him some confidence within just over a month left in the campaign but Goicoechea isn’t taking it lying down. He’ll be attending an event in Sandy Valley next weekend, then Logandale for the Moapa Valley High School homecoming and Beatty Days at the end of October.
Goicoechea said he’ll rely on State Assembly candidate James Oscarson to be his eyes and ears in Pahrump. While the schedule is hectic once the Legislature is in session, Goicoechea said he plans on having a legislative conference call with constituents in his district every Friday afternoon.
“Any of us, whether I’m there or anyone else, you have to be involved. You have to let your legislator know what’s going on,” Goicoechea said.
He plans to work with Assemblyman John Ellison, R-Elko, on a wide ranging bill patterned after one in Utah which would turn management of federal lands over to the states.
Hansen was at the festival already on Thursday.
“It’s the fourth time I’ve been down here. I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m amazed at the fact there’s so many people. It’s like a melting pot. Pahrump is like a melting pot. I’ve met people from all over the United States and especially from the East,” Hansen said.
“I’ve been very well received, surprisingly well received. I’ve been surprised about that. People here are very much in favor of the right to bear arms and the Constitution. So they like what I do,” she said.
Local supporters put up signs, arranged a booth for her and a parade float, Hansen said. Many of her supporters are Republicans who aren’t in favor of higher taxes, she said.
Hollis said he donated $150 to a local campaign for children who couldn’t afford carnival tickets. Hollis said he donates to numerous fundraisers, food drives, radio-thons and holiday dinners. Hollis said he will be speaking with bankers this week trying to help the latest Pahrump Senior Center project move along.
“I was very, very humbled by all the response I got from people going in the parade, a lot of people yelling “Gary!” It humbled me I got that support in Pahrump and Nye County,” Hollis said.
Hollis and his opponent, Frank Carbone, have mounted an amicable campaign for district two, they often chat together.
“We’re not hostile to each other. It’s just I have a record and he doesn’t,” Hollis said.
Carbone had a booth with a map showing the new county commission district boundaries. He estimated 200 to 300 people may have passed by during two days of the festival.
“Most of the folks I talked to are very energetic. They actually are registered or want to register to vote. They want to do things in the right way with the community. So they’re taking a big interest. They took a look at the map to see what district they’re in, a lot of folks don’t know any more what district they’re in,” Carbone said. “I have people that didn’t know they were even in my district because again they didn’t know where their district was and they’re willing to vote for me. So I’m very happy about that.”
Carbone’s campaign signs are posted around town together with Hansen and DeCanio. Carbonsaid he rented space on the privately-owned boards after his signs were ending up on the ground or getting knocked over, not because the three are running as a coalition.
County Commission District Three candidate Ken Searles was in the parade and met festival goers at a booth in his very low key campaign. Searles said he was called back to Desert View Hospital to be the pharmacist, a stint that was only supposed to be filling in for a couple of days but has ended up lasting a couple of months. He said it has limited his campaigning.
“I’m running a low profile campaign. I’ve been out here a number of years, hopefully they know who I am in that length of time,” Searles said.
One high profile event was his participation in an attempt to arrest the Pahrump Town Board for acting on an incorporation item.
Searles’ opponent, Donna Cox, said it took a couple hours to get to her booth at the festival, she stopped to talk to so many people. Cox said she knows a lot of volunteers in her position as president of the Concerned Citizens for a Safe Community, but she met a lot of longtime residents at the fair from her many years in Pahrump.
“This makes it easy because everyone is coming here and it makes it easy to campaign rather than having to go out and meet everybody,” Cox said. “A lot of them are looking for changes and they’re giving me a pat on the back and I had a lot of them tell me you’re going to win this. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I’m not getting my hopes up too far because you don’t know what will happen at the polls.”
The CCSC gathered signatures for a ballot question asking whether to revert the Pahrump Town Board to an advisory board. Cox said 82 percent of the people logging on to a poll online were in favor of the question. That will eliminate town jobs, like Town Manager Bill Kohbarger, she said.
“The fire department I understand will probably go back to volunteer,” Cox said. “I think we’re going to save $1 million the first year and I’m good at tightening belts if I can get in there. I can pinch a nickel real good,” Cox said.