For Nevadans, What Happens in D.C. . . .

By Karl Vick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 1, 2009

LAS VEGAS -- Bland indifference, flickering occasionally into polite attention, might describe the attitude of everyday Nevadans toward the issue of D.C. voting rights. The unconcern appears genuine, and in most quarters persists even if the matter is snarled with gun control, as it was in the U.S. Senate last week because of Sen. John Ensign (R-Nevada).

"I care more about the yogurt I just bought," said Amy Gardner, outside a Target Greatland megastore. Her 2-year-old son, Ridge, was on her hip.

"I can't say I really care about anything they're doing," said Aaron Michaels, after sliding his daughter into her car seat, two rows down. The medical assistant was running errands on a Friday morning in northwest Las Vegas, the newest and freshest section of a fresh new city. A question about political intrigue 2,400 miles away had him struggling for words.

"I mean . . . I . . . it really doesn't make any sense to me," Michaels said. "I'd think people there would be more concerned about what they're doing than we would be."

"There" being the District.

"I've heard nothing, you know."

Indeed, Friday's Las Vegas Review-Journal contained not a syllable on the developments that were front page news in the Washington papers: the breakthrough, after three decades, on legislation that would give the District a vote in the House of Representatives. President Obama has said he will sign a bill adding two House seats, the other likely going to deeply Republican Utah, keeping the chamber at an odd number.

Democratic leaders say it's a cinch to pass the House. It came out of the Senate on Thursday, but after Ensign attached a rider linking the franchise to stripping away the District's controversial gun laws. The amendment would bar "laws or regulations that discourage or eliminate the private ownership or use of firearms."

"Sure, you've got to give and take," said Regina DeRosa, behind the front desk of the Liberace Museum off Tropicana Boulevard. The nonprofit complex dedicated to the flamboyant pianist brackets a parking lot near the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where DeRosa just received a degree in social work.

"We're kind of a Western, hick-type state," the New York native said. "Actually, I don't really follow politics and what's going on in D.C. From what I understand, we're more into tourists and trying to tax them."

Almost six in 10 Americans support the idea of giving the District a vote versus 35 percent who are opposed, according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll. Only 7 percent had no opinion.

In the doorway of the Meadows Fellowship Foursquare Church, pastor Ron Flores frowned.


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