Biden could be hurt by former Nevada politician’s charges

If, as expected, former U.S. Sen. and Vice President Joe Biden announces his candidacy for president this week (in fact, he already may have done so), voters across the nation may revisit allegations made against him by a young female political upstart who served in the Nevada Legislature several years ago.

Those charges against 76-year-old Biden, a Democrat who served six terms as a U.S. senator from Delaware and two terms as Barack Obama’s vice president, were made last month by Lucy Flores, also a Democrat, who served two terms in the Nevada Assembly representing Las Vegas’ 28th District from 2010 to 2014.

In an article published in New York Magazine and in interviews on nationwide television talk shows, Flores alleged that in 2014, while endorsing her candidacy for lieutenant governor of Nevada before a Las Vegas get-out-the-vote rally sponsored by the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union, Biden stood behind her off-stage, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and planted a “big, slow kiss on the back of my head.”

Flores said she came forward with the accusations against Biden because she had seen “one too many accounts of Biden touching people in creepy ways” and “I needed to point out what had been the unspoken acceptance of Joe being Joe.”

Her allegations against Biden immediately galvanized the nationwide “Me Too” movement against the inappropriate conduct of men in power toward women and, subsequently, could negatively affect Biden’s anticipated 2020 presidential campaign even before he declares his candidacy.

A few days after Flores’ essay was published in New York Magazine, five other women claimed Biden had touched them in “creepy” ways. Biden responded, “I’ve never acted inappropriately toward women, but I will listen respectfully to suggestions that I did. In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection and support and comfort. Not once, never, did I believe I acted inappropriately.

“It is important that I and everyone else is aware that any woman or man who feels uncomfortable has the right to say, ‘Hey, I’m uncomfortable with that.’ I get it. I hear what they are saying. I’ll be much more mindful, that’s my responsibility,” he added.

The next day, President Donald Trump tweeted a doctored video on Twitter that showed Biden massaging his own shoulders.

Recent polls, however, indicate that Biden, despite the charges made against him, leads all other candidates for the presidency, with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders coming in second place.

As for Flores, she has had a checkered Nevada political career.

In 2010, Flores, then only 30 years old, won the Nevada 28th Assembly District race against a Republican candidate by a wide margin, and in 2012 she had no opponent whatsoever when running for a second term. But in 2014, at the end of her second term in the Assembly, she chose not to run again and, instead, announced she would run for lieutenant governor. She handily won the primary election and then ran against GOP candidate Mark Hutchison, a state senator and Las Vegas attorney, in the general election. It was during her campaign for lieutenant governor that she was allegedly harassed by Biden.

On Labor Day weekend in September 2014, Flores and Hutchison, along with other candidates for local and state office, campaigned in Fallon during the downtown breakfast and parade that followed. I spoke with Flores and Hutchison individually, asking them their views on current state issues and why they were running for lieutenant governor. Hutchison was well prepared, spoke well, knew the issues and impressed me. Flores was vague, had difficulty answering my questions and was unimpressive.

The election proved disastrous for Flores, one of 13 children raised in poverty who obtained an undergraduate degree at USC (my alma mater), a law degree from UNLV, passed the Nevada State Bar examination and became an attorney at law.

Statewide, she received 40% of the vote to 60% for Hutchison, despite the support she received from Biden (whom she earlier had turned on with venom), then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other state and national Democratic leaders. She even lost in Clark County, a traditional Democratic stronghold. In heavily Republican Churchill County, she received 1,084 Democratic votes to Hutchison’s 5,666. In Carson City, which usually votes for the GOP, she received 4,081 Demo votes to Hutchison’s 10,281.

Flores proved to be a sore loser, lashing out at the state’s Democratic establishment for not giving her enough support and money to run a successful campaign against Hutchison. In 2015, she ran for office once again, this time seeking to represent Southern Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District seat which was held by Republican Cresent Hardy. Flores did so poorly that she came in second place in the primary election, which was won by State Sen. Ruben Kihuen, who served only one term in Washington before resigning in the wake of accusations by several women in Las Vegas, Carson City and Washington that he sexually harassed them. Steven Horsford, a state legislator from Las Vegas, won the Fourth District seat following Kihuen’s resignation and remains in that position today.

Flores, now 39, currently lives in Los Angeles, where she runs a digital media company.

David C. Henley is publisher emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle-Standard.

Editor’s Note: This article has been corrected to clarify Flores stance on the 2020 Presidential election.


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