'Dead man walking': Kihuen faces few good choices after bombshell allegations
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
The bombshell hit Friday: A former staffer claimed U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen sexually harassed her and made advances.
She got so uncomfortable, she quit, reported BuzzFeed.
That was Friday. This is Monday.
“I think Ruben Kihuen is a dead man walking,” says host Kevin Wall, holding court Monday at 790 AM Talk Now.
You'd expect that on conservative talk radio, but Kihuen's condemnation has been bipartisan.
“You get Nancy Pelosi, you get folks in his own delegation — Democrats — calling for his ouster,” Wall told me.
Pelosi, the House minority leader, couldn't make a statement fast enough Friday night, calling on the freshman to step down, joining Kihuen's fellow Nevadan, U.S. Rep. Jacky Rosen, among others.
Kihuen faces a host of bad options.
He could stay in office, but that has its problems, says UNLV’s Michael Green.
“The problem with that is, that he is, in a sense, going to be shunned I think by a lot of people over this,” Green told me. If that were to happen, for Kihuen, that could limit his effectiveness for his remaining term in office.
Some of Kihuen's Nevada colleagues are calling for a congressional investigation.
The House Ethics Committee said, "no comment" when I asked whether it already has the Kihuen case.
If he tries to hang on and run for another term, “even if he doesn't resign, if he decides to go through the primary, he will lose that primary,” says Democrat Lucy Flores, who lost to Kihuen in the 2016 primary.
Her wish for Kihuen’s constituents: “He needs to do right by them, and he needs to resign.”
Kihuen was one of the Democrat’s few bright spots on Election Night 2016, ousting freshman Republican Cresent Hardy 48 percent to 44 percent. Now, there are rumblings potential candidates on both sides are sizing up the situation in case Kihuen steps down early.
The Review-Journal reported over the weekend Kihuen is not inclined to do that, citing sources.
If Kihuen resigns, Gov. Brian Sandoval would have six months to call a special election. Candidates would be chosen by party committees.
In the meantime, Kihuen remains his district's representative, facing tough choices.
Kihuen did not respond to a text message asking for comment Monday. Last Friday, in a statement, he apologized for his actions.
“The staff member in question was a valued member of my team,” said Kihuen. “I take this matter seriously.
“I have spent my 15 years in public service fighting for women’s equality, and I will continue to do so.”