Kenny & Me
Submitted by Kirk Caraway on Fri, 07/23/2010 - 6:54am
There are about a million people who know Kenny Guinn better than I do.
But it's that fact that makes the interactions I had with him so interesting.
As a political columnist, I took my fair share of shots at him, on issues like Yucca Mountain and his big tax rebate program. Besides sending his nuke dump point man out to counter my criticisms, he never held those against me.
While Kenny wasn't shy about his politics, he also had this ability to connect with people and remind them that we have a lot more in common than our political differences might suggest. You might disagree with him, but it would have been extremely hard for anyone to walk away from a debate hating Kenny.
He was a guy who seemingly knew everyone in his state, and always called me by my first name, to my surprise.
I was at the Governor's Mansion once for a party, and felt oddly out of place with a glass of wine in my hand, trying to act sophisticated, while Kenny was standing there drinking a beer. Before long, he was ordering beers for both of us and talking sports.
One time, I was with my wife and friends at an event at the State Archives. The party was winding down, and we were alone in the wing of the building where the state constitution is. The next thing we knew, here's Kenny — alone and drink in hand — coming in to give us a personal history lesson about that document. And like that, he was gone as fast as he arrived.
Those people who frequented Mo & Sluggo's for lunch probably remember the governor as a regular, so much so that they named a dish after him, the Governor's Plate — cheese enchiladas with lettuce and a special Spanish-style sauce.
And who can forget Halloween, my daughter's favorite holiday? Getting candy from the governor is a treat, and Kenny was especially gracious, making sure we had the perfect photo.
But one of my favorites was the last Nevada Day Parade that he rode in as governor.
Our friend Tanya came down from the lake with her four daughters to sit with us. We had a line-up of four blond girls sitting all in a row, from oldest to youngest.
After riding down the street on a railroad engine, Kenny came walking back up the parade route. He stopped to say hello, and then seeing these blond girls all in a row, accurately guessed what grade all of them were in.
And after shaking all their hands, he was off.
Tanya, who is from Ukraine, asked, "Who was that?" She was stunned when we told her he was the governor.
There's a million of these stories out there. Kenny touched a lot of people, no matter what side of the political divide you were on. He was almost too nice for politics.
I'm not sure if his personal retail-style politics would have worked on a bigger stage like a presidential campaign, but it would have been something to see.
We'll miss him.