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The Associated Press - Titus Says She's The "Real Democrat" In Gubernatorial Primary

Location: Reno, NV

July 19, 2006

Titus Says She's The "Real Democrat" In Gubernatorial Primary


RENO, Nev. (AP) - Gubernatorial hopeful Dina Titus disputed the idea on Wednesday that her Democratic primary opponent Jim Gibson has a better chance of winning the general election because he is more of a moderate.

Titus, state Senate majority leader, also said that her pro-choice stand on abortion will be a "huge issue" in the Aug. 15 primary against the Henderson mayor, a Mormon who opposes abortion except in cases of rape, incest or if the life of the mother is at stake.

"Real Democrats are going to turn out to vote for the real Democrat in this race," Titus said at a news conference with leaders of labor, minority, environmental, education and reproductive rights groups.

"The things we have rolled out are the things that are the hard-core Democratic values," she said.

"Whether the issue is environmental protection, or choice or protection of labor, I have a record to stand on and a plan to build on that affects the entire state, not just the parochial interests of Henderson."

Titus said that Newsweek magazine named five top governors in the nation last year and two were Democratic women in "very conservative states" - Janet Napolitano of Arizona and Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas.

"They won not be trying to pretend to be a Republican, not by trying to pretend to be a man, but giving straight talk, hard work and sensible solutions. That's what people want in Nevada. They want somebody to tell them the truth," she said.

Gibson was in a meeting and not immediately available to comment but his campaign spokesman Adam Candee said Titus' claim about being the "real Democrat" is "a tired old charge."

"Jim Gibson is a real Democrat. He has been a Democrat since the day he could register the vote. He supports Democratic ideals just as strongly as anybody out there," he said.

Candee said their polls show that Gibson is more electable when it comes to a general election.

"She does very poorly in Elko County and Washoe County. She has a well-documented history of contempt for northern Nevadans," he said.

Candee was referring in part to the Las Vegas senator's support in 1991 for a bill that gave southern Nevada a greater share of state sales taxes.

Gibson's campaign has been airing an ad that quotes Titus's comments at the time: "For years, Washoe County has been a sponge, just soaking up the income that's been earned by the blood and sweat of miners, gamblers and ranchers throughout the remainder of the state. Washoe County residents don't want taxes; they don't want growth; they just want handouts."

Titus said on Wednesday she was serving her first term as a legislator in 1991 and "was fighting hard for (her district) just like I will fight hard for the whole state." She still believes the tax shift was fair, but "I made some rather exuberant remarks on the floor at that time that I have come to regret and have apologized for."

"Let us not forget that the person who now is using those 16-year-old remarks is a person who has never done anything for anybody outside of Henderson," she said.

Titus called the news conference at a Reno park along the Truckee River with about 100 local backers to demonstrate her support outside the Las Vegas area.

Helyse Sina of Planned Parenthood of Reno said Titus is "a worthy ally in our cause for reproductive freedom."

Marilyn Melton, a Reno artist and past member of the Nevada Humanities Commission, said the state needs a governor who does not "carry religious or private agendas into the office."

Titus said reproductive rights are "a huge issue in this race."

"Nobody likes abortion but we believe that's a choice that should be made by a woman in discussion with her family, her doctor and her God. She doesn't need a governor or a legislator telling her how to make that kind of a decision," she said.

Candee said the state constitution already has settled the question on the side of choice.

"Jim Gibson has said he will never criminalize abortion. He will never take any steps toward changing Nevada law. As far as we see it, it's a non-issue," he said.

Gibson called a news conference earlier Wednesday to criticize President Bush for opposing a bill that would have eased limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Bush vetoed the measure later in the day.

Gibson, a vocal supporter of embryonic stem cell research, said it would now be left to the states to take the lead on funding the controversial research.

"It's disheartening to me and to many in Nevada that our president would disregard the will of so many people," he said.

If elected, he said, he would spend $10 million in his first year in office "laying the foundation" for a stem cell research program at the Nevada School of Medicine, and he would aim to spend $10 million annually on the project.

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