LAUGHLIN — Jay Craddock, a Democrat from Las Vegas seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Dean Heller in 2018, completed his 630-mile walking tour of the Silver State on Saturday by arriving in Laughlin.
“There’s a corruption in our Congress. It’s rotted, I want to go there and fix it,” Craddock said.
Craddock, 58, said the need is pressing enough that not changing how things are done in Washington D.C. might result in “a revolution.”
“Our country wouldn’t exist without capitalism, but capitalism has moved away from being reasonable,” he noted.
Craddock said that gerrymandering — a practice to draw congressional or legislative districts for the benefit of one party — is again a widespread practice, and that Republicans’ American Health Care Act is “a nothing but huge a tax break.”
He met and spoke to a large number of people across the state. He began the walk in McDermitt and finished about halfway across the Laughlin-Bullhead bridge, essentially the Nevada-Arizona state line. Near the end of the campaign journey, his walking stick broke and he went down in a wooded area. He had cuts on his hands, legs and arms but was in good spirits. And he was very happy not to have to walk very far that day. He said the walk provided him with long spans of solitude and helped him focus on what he needs to do, now that he was able to find out what Nevadans want to see accomplished by their U.S. senator. Those thought processes during the walking stints — the average daily distance was 10 miles — also resulted in “boosting my confidence to lead,” he said.
A ceremonial finish line was set up in a parking lot near the Colorado River Heritage Greenway Park and Trails area, but to complete the advertised 630 miles Craddock had to walk halfway across the bridge. Craddock completed most of the final 6-mile stretch with his brother, Robert, who stepped aside so the candidate could break the highly decorated tape and walk through the narrow pedestrian walkway of the bridge.
His fiancee, Anne Phillips, followed closely behind, shooting video of his final steps on mobile phone. She gave him a huge congratulatory hug once he reached the endpoint of the journey, which was inspired by a similar trip taken by former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., in 1974 when he was a young state legislator eyeing a U.S. Congressional seat. He ultimately became Montana’s longest-serving U.S. senator.
Craddock’s father, Robert, served in the Nevada Assembly from 1972-88. Jay described his father not as a “politician” but as a “statesman.”While he said he believes not having been a political officeholder is an attribute, Craddock also said it’s important to understand the role and responsibilities of the job. He said he watched his father serve Nevadans in Carson City. And he studied history, humanities and civilization at Columbia University and obtained a master’s degree in public administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He took a different career path, spending 27 years with the North Las Vegas Fire Department. He’s now retired but served as a firefighter-paramedic and captain. He said he considers as career highlights getting an advanced department emergency medical program established and being chosen by other members of the department as vice president of the firefighters union local.
A self-described moderate Democrat, Craddock said he considers himself pro-states rights — unusual for a Democrat. He was an active supporter of now-retired senator Harry Reid, but he noticed Reid changed over the years to become “more thoughtful about something other than us.”
His party is the party “of science” and “rational decision making” while the Republicans base public policy decisions “on chance,” he said.
He said the GOP putting hope in President Donald Trump as its leader resulted in “shooting themselves in the foot.” The Democrats, however, still need to come together after the “schism” of the presidential primary that pitted progressives against more centrist members of the party after a tough contest between former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.
There is hope, he said. The Nevada Democratic Party has “a great deal of positive energy going for it,” he noted.
Craddock said he wants to see private money out of politics, term limits on those elected to Congress and thinks a line-item veto for the chief executive could help curb the addition of bad amendments to good legislation. He emphasized that it’s something presidents have long needed and that future presidents will be able to use it to make beneficial changes. It also would allow voters to figure out which members of the House and Senate made the additions so they have that information available in subsequent elections, he said.
The tax system needs a complete overhaul because politicians are “selling our tax code for political donations,” he said. “We need a flat tax.”Many people still believe the Democrats want to take people’s guns away but that’s not the case, he insisted.“What if zombies attack?” he joked. “But, really, I think it’s already been proven that (Democrats) have no interest in getting rid of the Second Amendment.”Two important issues for the Colorado River region are obtaining funding for a second bridge to allow access between Bullhead City and Laughlin and securing water rights agreements, he said. He said a second bridge — planned for construction south of Laughlin across from the Mohave Crossroads shopping center in Bullhead City — is a safety issue.
Heller, seeking a second six-year term, is considered one of the more vulnerable Republican incumbents in the 2018 Senate election.