Reid’s Anderson Dairy ad leaves sour taste in some mouths

Sep. 28, 2010
By John L. Smith
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

Just days ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s great milk mission on behalf of Southern Nevada’s Anderson Dairy seemed consummately wholesome and politically pasteurized.

Reid scored a coup when he helped clear some federal regulations that enabled the dairy to better compete with, if not cream, the competition. Facing a tough re-election, his campaign team cut a warm and compelling television commercial that made him look like Anderson’s Holstein hero.

Like the milkman of old, Reid delivered straight to the company’s door.

Anderson’s David Coon reciprocated by cutting a nifty television spot for Reid, who is battling Republican Sharron Angle for every vote.

“Federal regulations were driving us out of business,” Coon says in the commercial. “Because of Senator Reid, we continue to stay in business. He really came through for us.”

Anderson Dairy employs 130 Nevadans and is an institution in local supermarkets.

It’s hard to imagine a fresher spot amid the cacophony of the increasingly vitriolic Reid-Angle race.

I wondered how long it would last.

Angle’s campaign found an ally in Republican state Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, who manages Ponderosa Dairies in Amargosa Valley.

It turns out the Ponderosa Dairies and its 9,000 cows produce plenty of milk, too. It also employs 145 workers. The Anderson ad got Goedhart’s blood boiling.

Or is that curdling?

In response, Goedhart produced his own spot that currently airs on The minute-long commercial has been picked up by Angle’s campaign and placed on her website. (All accuracy issues and in-kind contribution questions aside, I think it’s the most effective response ad of the campaign for Angle, and her people apparently had nothing to do with it.)

Reid’s deal helped Anderson, but shackled Ponderosa, which, because of regulatory changes, Goedhart says now must ship its milk “280 miles into California” before it’s returned to Nevada for sale.

“Harry Reid’s deal helped Anderson Dairy, but it hurt us …” he says. “Harry Reid says he helps Nevadans. He didn’t help us.”

That’s right. Ed Goedhart is accusing Reid of engineering a “government pailout.”

I suppose the existence of the commercial is a sign Goedhart refuses to be cowed.

He assures skeptics Ponderosa planned to invest $100 million in the dairy but won’t now that Reid has helped Anderson. He also said the regulatory change is costing Ponderosa an additional $4 million a year in trucking fees.

Reid spokesman Jon Summers calls Goedhart’s theatrics udderly ridiculous.

“Clark County was the only Nevada county that was forced to be part of the federal milk order,” Summers says. “In 1999, at the request of Anderson Dairy, Senators Reid and Bryan were able to exempt Clark County from the federal order. Senator Reid’s action in 2006 made that exemption permanent. As a result, all dairies in Nevada can compete on a level playing field.

“In other words, Senator Reid got government regulation out of the way. This has been on the table for more than a decade and Goedhart only chooses to say something now? Pretty transparent.”

Perhaps. But whether you buy the sepia-toned story line or think it smacks of sour milk and sour grapes might not be as important as the fact Angle is receiving more timely help than before. You can expect her allies to milk this for all its worth, even to the extent of finding other dairy farmers to give their slump-shouldered testimonials.

Which candidate will wear a celebratory milk mustache on election night, and which will cry in a mug of 2 percent?

We’ll know in a few weeks.

But perhaps only in Campaign 2010 could something as wholesome as the great Anderson Dairy pailout be whipped into a sinister milkshake.

It’s enough to leave self-respecting voters in a bad mood.

John L. Smith’s column appears Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. E-mail him at or call (702) 383-0295. He also blogs at

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