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Candidates for the 3rd Congressional District square off at debate

LAS VEGAS - Candidates for the 3rd Congressional District talked about the issues during a debate sponsored by the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Nevada and the Nevada Republican Black Caucus.

State Senator Scott Hammond, Former Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, and former Reporter Michelle Mortensen squared off, answering a series of questions before an audience at the World Market Center. 

The candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the third district answered a variety of questions. They ranged from immigration reform and Yucca Mountain to the recent tax cut bill and fixing education. 

The debate was civil, but that doesn't mean some of the differences between the candidates didn't emerge.  Seaman, for example, criticized Hammond for his 2015 vote for the commerce tax. 

"My opponent is absolutely right; there's a clear and concise difference between us. I voted against the largest tax hike in Nevada history, which did cost jobs, not just jobs, but businesses," said Seaman.  "And he voted for SJR 21, a pathway to citizenship for illegals. So there is a clear difference. I'm a businesswoman; I understand how jobs are created. I'm not going to create them in Carson City, I'm going to help businesses create jobs, and that is the difference between me and my opponent."

Seaman's charge against Hammond was right.  Hammond did vote for the commerce tax, and Seaman voted against it. But there's no evidence that the tax has cost jobs or business. 

According to the state department of employment, training, and rehabilitation, Nevada had the highest rate of private sector job growth in the nation in the first half of 2017, after the tax was in effect.
   
Hammond defended himself by citing data from the tax foundation, which found Nevada was high on the list of best states for business. 

"I'll say this about my opponent and what she has just stated, you can argue about the process, but if you look at anybody who goes out there and rates the states and their tax structures, Nevada is still considered the fifth best tax structured state in the union," Hammond said.  "The fifth best; that's pretty good out of 50 states, that's pretty dang good, fifth. And that means we're still out there; the opportunities for Nevada is greater than almost any other state."

For her part, Mortensen stayed away from attacking her opponents; instead, she leveled her fire at liberals and the media, which has been a hallmark of her campaign. She wasn't afraid to tackle one of the most politically fraught issues in America, social security.

"Right now, a lot of liberals will tell you we cannot touch social security. We cannot touch social security. And the media will tell you if you bring it up that you want to kill someone's grandma. I don't want to kill my grandma and grandpa. I don't want to kill my dad. I don't want to hurt my father, and he's nearly onto social security," Mortensen said.  "That's not what we want to do at all.  But not touching it? Not talking about it? Putting your head in the sand and just hoping, oh, everything's going to work out? It's not... in 17 years, social security will be insolvent. That means if you're getting about $2,000 right now on social security, you'll get less than $1,500 on social security. You must touch the problem."

That statistic she cited comes directly from the social security board of trustees, which says the program's costs will exceed revenues by 2035 unless some changes are made. 

Filing for the congressional race is next month, and the primary election comes in early June. 


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