With national focus recently tipping significantly towards construction and infrastructure — with mounting construction costs and President Biden’s focus on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework — it seems it would be only a matter of time before these issues would bring people directly into the political system.
Henderson, Nevada-based contractor John Kovacs announced in July that he is entering politics to handle just these particular issues, arguing that his background makes him a unique fit to represent his state in its 3rd Congressional District.
“How many other candidates are running multimillion-dollar businesses with collective bargaining agreements and paying into health care for more than 50 employees? None of them,” Kovacs said about his candidacy.
The contractor owns Nevada’s Silver State Construction and NVNJ Construction Group, as well as New Jersey’s Diamond Construction.
Kovacs is joining an already-crowded Republican primary field, as candidates April Becker, Mark Robertson, and Noah Malgeri are already hoping to unseat second-term Democratic Representative Susie Lee. The primary election’s date has yet to be announced, though the general election will take place on November 8, 2022.
However, Kovacs claims that his background as a civil engineer and a business owner within the construction industry make him well-qualified to be a member of Congress, saying that “One day I’m an accountant, the next a lawyer, then an engineer…the other candidates have no concept of this stuff. People are going to see this once we start talking about the issues.”
To particularly amplify the importance of these issues to Nevadans, Kovacs isn’t the only person vying for a spot in the Republican primary with this background or focus: Malgeri, a direct opponent of Kovacs in the race for the 3rd Congressional District’s seat, is an attorney, mechanical engineer, and business owner in Las Vegas who similarly holds interests in spurring the economy through infrastructure and energy expansion.
Environmental issues — and the construction needed to deal with them — are driving political goals on both sides of the aisle
Though Kovacs’ platform deals with common conservative talking points such as Second Amendment issues and “critical race theory”, the candidate is hoping to focus on more immediate and tangible issues for the state of Nevada during the race.
For example, in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Kovacs focused on the issue of water scarcity in the Las Vegas Valley, and the role that politicians may hold in spurring construction that would help ameliorate such problems.
“It’s not as sexy as the election fraud or critical race theory or the Second Amendment, but if this area didn’t have water, it’d be a ghost town,” Kovacs said.
He noted that the country needs to plan the storage of water and revitalization of aquifers as a major focus, and that local work could be done to help mitigate problems — suggesting that a moratorium on local building projects might be necessary until water reservoirs could be refilled.
As the race for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District has become one of major importance for both the Democratic and Republican parties given the swing-state nature of Nevada’s political structure, the state’s Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a statement in late July responding to the Republican field’s focus.
“The GOP primary in Nevada’s Third District is already shaping up to be a damaging race to the right,” party spokeswoman Johanna Warshaw said. “As extremist candidates scramble to align themselves with the most far-right fringes of their party, congresswoman Susie Lee is focused on getting Nevadans back to work and ensuring a strong economic recovery for southern Nevada.”
Despite opportunities for construction, Kovacs still disagrees with Biden administration’s focuses — possibly pointing to more contractor dissent in politics
Kovacs also noted that he was running as an opposition to some of the policies put forth by President Biden, and particularly the Biden administration’s choices regarding large construction projects — even contentious ones like the recently canceled Keystone XL Pipeline.
“I gave Biden a chance, but then like on his second day he killed the Keystone Pipeline,” Kovac claimed. “And I know what those jobs pay on the construction and engineering side.”
As Levelset recently reported, the impact of the cancellation of the Keystone XL Pipeline has been much debated. Some — like Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen — have claimed that the pipeline’s full construction “would have enhanced America’s energy independence while bringing much-needed jobs, tax revenue, and economic development to rural communities…across the country” and could have brought more than 13,000 jobs to Canadian and American builders.
However, in contrast, some have felt that these estimates and claims were overwrought. As per Levelset’s reporting, “a previous report by the Obama administration’s Department of State went against this, noting that the pipeline’s construction would result in ‘3,900 direct construction jobs if it was built over one year, or 1,950 if the work was spread over two years.’ Once operational, TC Energy would have only required 35 permanent full-time jobs and 15 temporary full-time jobs in order to run the pipeline, making the rest of the job creation temporary.”
Kovacs similarly has noted his disagreement with Biden and Nevada incumbent Lee over the handling of the construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border — a heavily controversial project derided as “ineffective and damaging” that the Biden administration ceased construction on during the President’s first day in office.
Though Kovacs and other conservatives have pushed for the wall’s full construction, small pockets of work are still being done on the project, leaving opportunities for contractors to get involved. According to a White House press release, construction work will continue in areas where prior work had damaged the surrounding environment. The notice specified that the Department of Homeland Security “will prioritize the remaining border barrier funds to address urgent life, safety, and environmental issues resulting from the previous Administration’s wall construction.”
The statement noted as an example that “DHS has already started work to repair the Rio Grande Valley flood protection system that the prior Administration compromised, and to remediate dangerous soil erosion due to improper soil compaction along a 14-mile wall segment in San Diego, California.”
Additionally, even though the project is currently dead at the federal level, individual states are attempting to fund wall construction through crowd-funding measures, giving the incredibly slim chance that construction may resume in the future.
As per prior Levelset reporting, “On June 16, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state was planning to build its own wall between Texas and Mexico, claiming ‘Texas will build a border wall in our state to help secure our border’ — starting with hiring a program manager and directing $250 million state funds as a ‘down payment’ for the project.”