Nevada’s Gibbons tries to join the club

NEVADA’S GIBBONS TRIES TO JOIN THE CLUB…. Conservative Republican Govs. Sanford, Perry, Jindal, and Palin have already taken steps to reject federal stimulus aid. Apparently, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons (R), arguably the nation’s least popular and most scandal-plagued governor, wants to join the club.

With Nevada suffering from some of the nation’s highest unemployment and foreclosure rates, no one seems to understand what Gibbons is thinking rejecting funds for extended unemployment assistance. If the governor assumed taking an uncompromising conservative stand might rally the Republican base to his defense, he badly miscalculated — GOP lawmakers and the state’s Chamber of Commerce want him to cut the nonsense and accept the money.

While many states would have to change their laws to receive the cash — the federal government’s offer of $7 billion is contingent on states’ expanding the eligibility for the benefits — Nevada already meets the criteria, according to the State Department of Unemployment, Training and Rehabilitation, since it gives benefits to some part-time workers and those who quit their jobs under certain conditions.

Further, some governors have rejected the unemployment piece of the package because their unemployment levels are below the national average. With a 10.1 percent unemployment rate, according to the latest data released Friday, Nevada’s rate is above the national average and rising, and the state’s fund will be broke by the end of the year. That will trigger federal borrowing to replenish the fund, which Nevada has not had to do since 1974.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada told the NYT, “What makes this particular situation most extreme is the terrible situation the state is in. I mean, how do you look at someone in your state that has lost their job and tell them, ‘No, we’re not taking this money’? ”

The governor’s finance team hasn’t been able to defend Gibbons’ position. The state’s Democratic Assembly speaker called Gibbons’s position “incoherent.”

With Sanford, Perry, Jindal, and Palin, there’s the presidential angle to consider — all four are rumored to be eyeing a race in 2012, and want to be able to tell Republican primary voters they took a firm line in opposition to economic recovery efforts. But Gibbons is, in political terms, a dead man walking, and stands little chance of winning a second term in Nevada, better yet seeking national office.

Maybe he thinks rejecting stimulus aid in the middle of a deep recession is trendy or something.