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GOP senate candidates debate in Reno, NV

GOP Senate Candidates Debate Border, Land, Foreign Aid

By Ariel Van Cleve, January 19, 2024 4:36 pm

Seven candidates vying for the Republican nomination in the 2024 Nevada senate race debated several issues including border security, federal land management, and foreign aid Thursday night in Reno.

The candidates shared a variety of ideas on how illegal immigration ought to be addressed. Both Air Force veteran Tony Grady and former Assemblyman Jim Marchant, two of the top three frontrunners according to a poll conducted last October, pressed for the enforcement of existing immigration laws. Grady and real estate broker Stephanie Phillips each advocated for the impeachment of the current Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Tony Grady (Photo: Ariel Van Cleve for The Nevada Globe)

Candidate Ronda Kennedy, on the other hand, proposed a policy of financially targeting nations whose citizens illegally entered the U.S. “We should tell countries, ‘Hey, you have X amount of citizens here in the United States that the American people have to use their hard earned dollars to support so we’re gonna minus that from any aid that you’re going to get.’”

On the topic of federal land management, Grady, Kennedy, Marchant, and Phillips all declared their opposition to the Truckee Meadows Public Lands Management Act recently introduced in Congress by the senator they seek to replace, Democratic incumbent Jacky Rosen. The bill would allow for the public sale of nearly 16,000 acres of federal land and place protections on over 900,000 acres.

Only former green beret William Conrad expressed optimism in response to the measure, saying that “we need to open up lands—federal lands. . . . Amodei’s also working on a bill. I think we’re gonna have some good things coming out of this and it’s a start as we open up more lands returned to us and away from the federal government.”

GOP U.S. Senate candidate Jim Marchant (Photo: Ariel Von Cleve for The Nevada Globe)

Candidates Barry Lindemann and Dr. Fred Simon felt that Nevadans should be in charge of their own lands; and Marchant stated, “I would like to actually get all our land back. I think 87 percent is controlled and managed by the government. And I have been promoting that for a long time, and I will do so when I’m in the senate.”

Most candidates openly opposed funding Ukraine in its war against Russia. “We should not give another dime to the Ukraine,” declared Simon. He later continued, “The fact of the matter is, the Ukraine has nothing to do with the security of the United States.”

Grady and Lindemann, however, approached the issue with more caution and never offered blanket opposition to all spending on Ukraine. Instead, prior to the debate, Grady stated that “we have a responsibility in Ukraine because we encouraged them to disarm their nuclear weapons . . . and as the leader of the free world we should be able to negotiate a solution to stop the bloodshed. So, that’s a proper role we have. We should not have an open checkbook for Ukraine.”

Seven GOP candidates for U.S. Senate debate in Reno, NV, Jan, 18. 2024

Lindemann argued that he sees foreign spending as an investment but also said that “[a]s far as Ukraine goes, Europe needs to buck up.”

On the topic of abortion, none of the candidates threatened sweeping federal bans; and both Tony Grady and Stephanie Phillips asserted that Nevada’s protections on abortion would stand unless altered at the state level.

“I am pro-life,” declared Phillips, adding, “I’m not going to tell a woman what to do with her body. That is not my place. So, the law is what it is. If it was going to change, it would have to be put on the ballot; and the voters of this state would vote on it.”

At the end of the night, Marchant offered support for the gold standard. “The federal reserve states in their website that they want to debase and devalue our dollar two percent every year,” he stated, “and they’ve been doin’ it. . . . So, the only way to get our monetary system back to where it should be is to have it backed by a commodity like gold, silver—and Nevada is the perfect state to do it.”

During the debate all candidates had spoken critically of the federal reserve and all but Phillips definitively indicated their support for abolishing the organization.

Neither former Ambassador Jeff Gunter nor the race’s current front-runner, veteran Sam Brown, attended the event. To watch the full recorded debate, click here.


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Ariel Van Cleve
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