Governor’s race is more important than Senate race but we can’t count on either to fix anything

Dina Titus says she’s thinking about running against Dean Heller, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal. And she probably is — thinking about it, that is. There are no other obvious Democratic contenders on the horizon, and Heller has Trump.

Nevada could do much worse than Titus in the Senate. And I suspect a Titus-Heller race would be more, let’s say, entertaining than Berkley-Heller in 2012. That said, I’ve almost zero interest in the prospects of specific politicians, especially in federal elections, where the stakes — which party controls Congress — are structural, not individual or personal.

And structurally, it’s far from clear that Nevada will matter. Democrats are defending 25 Senate seats in 2018 (if you include Sanders and King) and Republicans are defending only nine. Anything’s possible, s’pose — again, Trump — but as of now, no one expects Democrats to add the net 3 seats they’d need to control the Senate. At the same time, the chance that Republicans will pick up the eight seats they need to secure a filibuster-proof majority seems only slightly less remote.

(By the way not to belabor the obvious, but nothing good will come out of Washington while Trump is president. Beating Heller would be a fine thing on several levels but it is still part of the Democratic rear-guard action aiming, at least in the short term, not to produce good policies but to thwart awful ones.)

Of the nine Republican-held seats in play, Heller’s is presumed the most vulnerable, which adds some importance to it. But in the end, with respect to all-important Senate control, Nevada’s Senate race may be irrelevant.

The importance of next year’s governor’s race is much more clear cut. Short of filibuster-proof Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature, no positive or productive state-level policy of any kind will be enacted as long as the governor of Nevada is Adam Laxalt. He would be an unmitigated disaster.

Yet it’s far from a sure thing that Nevada’s first Democratic governor of the 21st century would support and sign progressive legislation, especially if that Democrat is the guy Titus and others expect to run for governor, Steve Sisolak.

Electing Democrats is important because the alternative is pernicious. But in the meantime, Nevada — Nevadans — need some stuff, starting with higher wages and paid sick leave. Both presumably will be vetoed this year by the current Republican governor. But after the 2018 election, why, well … what?

Yeah, putting those needs on the 2018 ballot themselves would probably be the prudent thing to do.