State Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, announced his retirement today, ending a 38-year career in the state Senate.
The abrupt announcement came this morning when Raggio released a statement making his resignation effective Jan. 15, 2011, citing mobility problems as the chief reason for his retirement. He said the time has come for him to “step aside” and make way for someone “who can give the position a 100 percent effort.”
“I am extremely honored and privileged to have been allowed to serve in public office for more than 56 years,” he said. “To the citizens of Washoe County, I extend my sincere gratitude for your support for so many years.”
Since the longest-serving state senator in Nevada history is in the middle of his 10th term, the Board of Commissioners of Washoe County will now have to appoint a successor to fill his position.
In a phone interview, Raggio said he is very comfortable with his decision to retire.
“It’s the right decision,” he said. “I tried to make it as low-key and uneventful as possible. I didn’t want to interfere with the governor’s inauguration.”
Raggio said he has a severed Achilles tendon that has limited his ability to be 100 percent functional.
“I spent 18 years (in the Washoe County District Attorney’s Office) and 38 years in the Senate,” he said. “That’s a long ride.”
Raggio said he would not presume to dictate who should be picked for his replacement, only that it not be someone with a “radical” political agenda.
“I would like it to be someone who shares my political ideas and who will work across party lines,” he said.
After Raggio made his announcement, other prominent Nevada politicians were quick to deliver appreciative words. Some even Tweeted their thanks to the senator for his service.
Assembly Speaker-elect John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, praised the senator’s commitment to “do the right thing for our state,” but also mentioned the split Northern and Southern Nevada politics in a statement released earlier today.
“Certainly he was an advocate for Northern Nevada, but his mastery of the budget and the legislative process was a steadying influence which served Southern Nevada as well,” Oceguera said.
As the politicians in D.C. enter their session, U.S. Congressman Dean Heller, R-NV, took the time to release the following: “Bill Raggio has served Nevada with distinction and honor. I have known Bill for many years and have seen firsthand his dedication to our great state. His sudden departure is unfortunate and I wish him well. Senator Raggio’s presence in the State Legislature will be sorely missed.”
Governor Brian Sandoval, a fellow Republican who called Raggio “a mentor” and “the father figure in the Legislature,” said he called Raggio immediately after the announcement.
“If the state of Nevada had a Mt. Rushmore for public servants, Bill Raggio’s image would be etched on its face,” Sandoval said.
Raggio made his announcement Jan. 5 in hopes that the board will have adequate time to make an appointment before the legislative session starts Feb. 7.
The senator’s retirement marks the end of an era for Nevada state politics. For decades, Raggio led the state Senate as majority leader or minority leader until this past year, when the 10-member GOP Senate caucus unanimously supported Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, as minority leader.
This leadership shake-up came a month after Raggio endorsed U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in his re-election campaign against GOP challenger Sharron Angle. Despite the upset, Raggio finishes his career with a long list of accomplishments. While most state senators can brag of a few accomplishments, Raggio’s biography on Nevada’s legislative website has several pages of achievements.
Although he is retiring from the Senate, Raggio intends to stay active in his law firm, Jones Vargas.
- Read Raggio’s letter to the Board of Commissioners of Washoe County here.
- Read Raggio’s letter of resignation here.