Posts Tagged ‘GOP’

GOP Primary Opponents Debate In Fiercely Contested State Senate Nine Race

By Sean Whaley | 8:09 pm May 31st, 2012

CARSON CITY – In the Republican quest to regain control of the state Senate in the 2012 general election, two GOP candidates in a bitter primary traded accusations today in a televised debate.

Whether GOP establishment favorite Mari Nakashima St. Martin or challenger Brent Jones wins the June 12 primary, the fiercely contested primary presents another challenge for Republicans to return to dominance in the state Senate.

GOP Senate 9 candidate Mari Nakashima St. Martin.

The issues aren’t taxes or education reform, but questions of judgment and personal responsibility. The candidates debated on the Face To Face television program.

St. Martin issued a press release raising questions about whether Jones took advantage of a mentally disabled man more than a decade ago by selling him two ostrich eggs for $30,000 to establish an ostrich farm. Jones, in return, has raised questions about St. Martin’s suitability for public office.

Jones’ claim, detailed today by the Las Vegas Sun, characterizes St. Martin as a “party girl,” on a website launched by Republicans United, a new political action committee with which Jones said he is unaffiliated. The site features pictures of St. Martin holding alcoholic drinks and socializing.

St. Martin’s criticism cites a Los Angeles Times article from 2000, which looked into Jones’ transaction with the mentally disabled man to buy the ostrich eggs.

In the debate, St. Martin said her campaign did create a website, called Freinds of Mari St. Martin, focusing on the civil lawsuit filed against Jones and others in order to “vet” the GOP candidates so that “fringe” and “marginal” candidates don’t win the primary and lose to Democrats in the November general election.

Jones has filed a lawsuit alleging defamation, saying the claims are false and defamatory. Jones said St. Martin’s campaign volunteers are telling voters wrongly that he was jailed for the civil case, which was settled.

St. Martin said her campaign is not making such calls. Volunteers are calling voters, she said.

Jones defended the website questioning St. Martin’s suitability for public office.

He also said St. Martin has no business experience, has never met a payroll, and has refused to sign the Taxpayer Protection pledge affirming a stand to reject tax increases.

GOP Senate 9 candidate Brent Jones.

“Those are the issues,” Jones said.

St. Martin downplayed the pictures, saying the characterization of her behavior suggests that young mothers are unqualified and unfit to run for and serve in public office.

St. Martin said she won’t sign any pledge, but that she supports transparency and lower taxes. She did not commit to support or oppose Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan to extend a collection of tax increases set to expire on June 30, 2013, into the next budget cycle.

Jones said St. Martin’s equivocation on taxes is due to her support from the Senate GOP establishment, specifically Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, who voiced support for Sandoval’s decision to extend the sunsetting taxes into the next budget.

St. Martin said Jones’ comments show that he considers anyone “under the age of 40, and female, basically, is unfit and unqualified for office . . . ”

The Senate 9 District is vacant, with former Sen. Elizabeth Halseth, R-Las Vegas, having resigned from the seat.

The primary battle is draining energy and resources  in a contest that Republicans need to win to take the majority in the 21-member Senate where Democrats now have an 11-10 advantage. The winner will face another Jones, Democrat Justin Jones, who has received financial help from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.


Audio clips:

Senate 9 candidate Brent Jones says St. Martin is unqualified:

053112Jones :08 payroll; absolutely unqualified.”

St. Martin says Jones thinks young women are unqualified for public office:

053112St.Martin :12 the power brokers.”




Yes, Really: Nevada Republicans Poised to Move Caucus Date

By Elizabeth Crum | 8:58 am October 20th, 2011

Hey, guys:

If the ruby-slippered girl from Kansas had capitulated to the demands of the wicked witch (“SURRENDER DOROTHY“) and her flying monkeys, poor Toto might still be stuck in Oz.


As reported by Ralston last night and confirmed by numerous sources inside the state party, Nevada Republican leaders are going wobbly and reconsidering their Jan. 14 caucus date.

Many forces are at play here:

– The ire of New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner who has been threatening to move the Granite State’s first-in-the-nation primary to December if Nevada does not move its date back

– Firm but friendly pressure from the Iowa GOP

– Pressure and promises of future benefits from the Republican National Committee

– The threat of a boycott of Nevada’s caucuses by a number of presidential candidates who heart New Hampshire and have no chance in Nevada

– The worry about perceptions amid accusations from some party members that Team Romney influenced the executive board’s decision to move the caucus date into January (the earlier date did help Romney and put other candidates at a disadvantage because his campaign has the greatest amount of existing infrastructure)

– Concern with a whipped-up faction of the central committee who were already unhappy with an attempt by the executive board to adopt same-day voter registration rules for the Republican caucus

– Anger among party members that these decisions were made by the executive board behind closed doors and without consulting the general membership of the party

– The worry about an expected challenge to newly elected GOP chair Amy Tarkanian at this Saturday’s central committee meeting in Las Vegas

It remains to be seen whether party leaders will just go ahead and pick a new date before Saturday, or whether they will wait until this weekend when more than 200 Republicans are presently expected to vote on the matter.

Amy Tarkanian has repeatedly said Nevada will not hold the caucuses on a Tuesday, which means the most likely new date is Feb. 4.

As one embattled and audibly exhausted state party official told me in a phone conversation, Nevada “will still be first in the west” and will “still matter” — but with Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida all preceding the Silver State, it sure won’t matter as much as if the the Jan. 14 date had stood.

The Nevada Dems yesterday hassled the GOP about their reconsideration via a scathing press release (and an appearance by their memorable chicken mascot). Here’s their statement:

“Nevada Democrats moved our caucus date to bolster Nevada Republicans’ courage to stand up to Florida, who has violated rules agreed upon by both national Parties and is jeopardizing our hard-fought status as a presidential early-voting state. We are disappointed Nevada Republicans are now willing to risk Nevada’s status as an early voting state because they are afraid to stand up to the Republican National Committee’s empty threats and hollow promises. And since their threats against Florida proved toothless, the Beltway-minded RNC isn’t in the best position to honor promises like the ones they have reportedly made to the Nevada Republican Party. No matter what they have told in-state Republicans about securing Nevada’s third-in-the-nation status in future elections, Florida demonstrated the RNC is powerless to stop such actions. Since it would be a deep embarrassment to the state if Nevada Republicans wave the white flag on keeping our early voting status, we therefore strongly urge Gov. Sandoval and state Republicans not to retreat in this fight.”


CNN Debate Recap — Contention, Condescension, Dissension

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:42 pm October 19th, 2011

Now that the dust has settled, Dear Readers, thought I’d recall a few memorable moments from last night’s CNN debate at the Sands Expo Convention Center in Las Vegas:

Best Zinger

My pick for the best one-liner of the night:

In his self-introductory remarks, Perry said he was was “an authentic conservative, not a conservative of convenience.”

(Yes, he was talking to you, Mitt.)


For the first 25 minutes of the debate, it was Pick on Herman Cain night, as follows:

Rep. Michele Bachman:  “Anytime you give the Congress a brand-new tax, it doesn’t go away.”

Sen. Rick Santorum: “Herman’s well-meaning, and I love his boldness. I give him credit for — for starting a debate, but it’s not good for families.”

Gov. Rick Perry: “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something, you don’t need to have a big analysis to figure this thing out. Go to New Hampshire, where they don’t have a sales tax, and you’re fixing to give them one.”

Rep. Ron Paul: “Herman. It’s not going to fly.” And: “It’s very, very dangerous. And it will raise more revenues.”

Gov. Mitt Romney: “The analysis I did, person by person, return by return, is that middle-income people see higher taxes under your plan.”

Cain repeatedly defended his plan, insisting that it was being misrepresented and would not raise taxes on poor people.

“The reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians — they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair,” responded Cain.

Team Cain’s spin room take? The attacks proved he’s considered the frontrunner. They also said he would be releasing more details in the near future.

Health Care

Romney and Santorum got into a shouting match over the Massachusetts health care measure passed when Romney was governor of the Bay State.

Santorum: “You just don’t have credibility. Your consultants helped craft Obamacare.”

Attacks on “RomneyCare” aren’t going away, as much as the former Massachusetts governor might wish they would.

Romney’s best defense is probably the one he’s lately been sticking with and did again last night:  What he did in MA was good for that state given the situation. And states, not the federal government, should be legislating health care solutions tailored to the needs of their residents.

Illegal Immigration

Perry attacked Romney on a story that recently surfaced: “Mitt, you lose all of your standing, from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home and you knew about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.”

A shouting match ensued as the two governors took turns interrupting and talking over one another.

At one point, Romney condescendingly said to Perry, “This has been a tough couple of debates for Rick, and I understand that. And so you’re going to get testy.”

(Romney did acknowledge that a landscaping company he hired employed illegal immigrants, but he said he fired the company when he found out.)

Also notable: During an exchange of barbs, Romney at one point put his hand on Perry’s shoulder. Aggressive.

Looking Forward

There are 12 more Republican debates scheduled in the upcoming months (yes, really).

Most of the campaigns have not started running a full menu of TV ads. Once the field is culled (a factor of campaign dollars), the remaining contenders will have many more chances to rip their opponents on these and other issues.


Nevada Delegates to Participate in Presidential Straw Poll at Southern Republican Leadership Conference

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:11 pm June 16th, 2011

With the New Hampshire debate concluded, Republican presidential contenders are today gathering in New Orleans in anticipation of the first major test of strength among GOP activists from around the country, the Republican Leadership Conference 2011 (RLC) Presidential Straw Poll.

Sub-plots abound.

Nine presidential candidates. Over 2,000 delegates from 38 states including many from early caucus and early primary states like Iowa, Nevada and Florida. Huntsman, Romney and Pawlenty all in one place for the first time. Bachmann on the upswing after exceeding expectations in New Hampshire this week. Cain and Santorum vying for relevancy. Newt regrouping. Ron Paul plugging along.

Texas governor Rick Perry, who has not announced but whose name has been floated as a possible late-entry to the race, will also be speaking at the conference.

Paul is expected to win the straw poll in part because his campaign purchased “an obscene number” of conference registration badges to distribute among his supporters, according to a GOP consultant with knowledge of the situation.

He did not know whether paid-for badges were given to any Nevada delegates, but it’s certainly possible in light of the Texas congressman’s strong Silver State support in the 2008 caucuses. Paul placed second to Romney in Nevada with 14% of the vote.

With Team Paul virtually guaranteed a win, what will be interesting is who takes second place. The runner-up at RLC can leave the Big Easy claiming to be a frontrunner with the conservative base.

Cain is now essentially battling Bachman for the Tea Party mantle. And T-Paw needs a strong showing after a weak performance in Manchester.

“With the field nearly defined for the first time, the nominating contest is at a critical point this week. Our straw poll of delegates from 38 states will be the best indication yet of which candidates core GOP activists, donors and elected officials support for president,” RLC President and CEO Charlie Davis said.

Voting takes place Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The results will be posted to at on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.


Krolicki Out, Marshall In, Amodei Pending

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:15 pm May 5th, 2011

As first “guessed” by @RalstonFlash on Twitter this morning — Nevada has learned the hard way that Ralston’s guesses are not mere speculation but informed fact — Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki has formally announced that he is not going to run for Nevada’s open congressional seat.

State GOP chairman Mark Amodei will now be free to make his final decision, probably to jump in.

The success of the GOP’s lawsuit against the Secretary of State re: the special election rules is Amodei’s best shot at the congressional seat. The central committee would almost certainly nominate him now that Krolicki is out of the picture. However, in an an open election, Amodei is by no means a lock because he is not a favorite with much of the conservative base (due, among other things, to the 2003 tax hike in which he participated).

If the GOP lawsuit fails, as many on both sides of the aisle think it will, the man with the next best shot to win the hearts and minds of Republican voters is probably state Senator Greg Brower — IF he can convince enough of the GOP base that he is not an “establishment” candidate. If he cannot, then former U.S.S. Cole Cmdr. Kirk Lippold might be able to take advantage of the situation (and we can expect Lippold’s campaign to paint both Brower and Amodei as career politicians while pitching their guy as a military hero, conservative family man, and voice of the people).

As for the Democrats, State Treasurer Kate Marshall is in (also first Tweeted by Ralston, yesterday). It remains to be seen whether any other serious Dem contenders take a shot at it.






Republicans In The Nevada Legislature Introduce Redistricting Plans

By Sean Whaley | 10:30 am April 28th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Legislative Republicans today announced that they are introducing redistricting plans for the Assembly, Senate, and the state’s Congressional delegation that will “ensure fair representation for the people of Nevada.”

In a news release from Senate GOP leaders Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, and Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, they say they have crafted a plan that respects the current numerical strength of various regional, ethnic, partisan, and individual community groups without infringing on the rights of other Nevadans to effectively participate in the electoral process.

Images of the plans are accessible here:

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ideal population for each of Nevada’s Congressional districts is 675,138; for state Senate Districts, 128,598; and for state Assembly districts, 64,299, and the Republican plans show minimal disparity from these ideal populations.

In the Congressional plan, district populations have an absolute deviation of zero people, except in one necessary instance due to Nevada’s total population being an odd, and not even, figure. In the state Senate plan, district populations deviate from the ideal population by less than one tenth of one percent (0.1 percent). In the State Assembly plan, district populations deviate from the ideal population by less than one half of one percent (0.5 percent).

The Republican plans will also fully and properly comply with the requirements of the Voting Rights Act. As such, the Republican plans:

- Prevent “fracturing” of the Hispanic community by creating the following majority-minority districts: one majority-Hispanic congressional district; four majority-Hispanic state senate districts; and eight majority-Hispanic assembly seats.

- Prevent “packing” of the Hispanic community by keeping the total Hispanic population under 60 percent in all of the majority-minority districts.

According to the 2010 Census, Hispanics represent more than 26 percent of Nevada’s population. The Republican Congressional plan ensures that members of the Hispanic community will have opportunities to elect candidates of their choice to Nevada’s Congressional delegation. Additionally, the legislative plans create the opportunities for the Hispanic community to increase its representation in the Nevada Legislature.

The Republican plans also preserve historic African-American districts in the Nevada Senate and Nevada Assembly.

The Republican Congressional plan creates two districts likely to elect Democratic candidates and two districts likely to elect Republican candidates – one of which leans Republican only slightly.

In the Nevada Senate, the Republican plan creates nine districts likely to elect Democratic candidates, four districts likely to elect Republican candidates, and eight competitive districts.

In the Nevada Assembly, the plan creates twenty districts likely to elect Democratic candidates, eight districts likely to elect Republican candidates, and fourteen competitive districts.

Tea Party Express is Back on the Job in Nevada

By Elizabeth Crum | 12:47 pm April 24th, 2011

They’re BAAAACK…

Yes, Dear Readers, the Tea Party Express (TPX) is once again attempting to influence Nevada state politics in ways some say make little pragmatic sense and even (I would wager) contradicts what some folks on their Nevada mailing list are hoping happens in the coming weeks.

Exhibit One, a recent TPX missive suggesting that Governor Sandoval should appoint a placeholder (rather than Rep. Dean Heller) to John Ensign’s soon-to-be vacated Senate seat:

CONTACT: Levi Russell at or (509) 979-6615


Grassroots group asks Governor to avoid forcing a Special Election

The Tea Party Express ( today called on Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval to appoint a distinguished Nevadan as an interim appointment to the vacant U.S. Senate seat so voters can have an unbiased final say in the elections of 2012.

Under Nevada law the Governor must appoint a successor to replace Senator John Ensign, who announced his resignation from the U.S. Senate as of May 2nd.  Speculation is that Sandoval is interested in appointing Congressman Dean Heller to the vacant Senate seat.

Such an appointment would create a House vacancy at an inopportune time as the Congress is addressing the serious debt and excessive spending of the federal government.  In addition, because Nevada has not had experience with Special Elections, it is an uncertain process to select a replacement to Heller.

Since historically around the country, appointed U.S. Senators have fared poorly in efforts to get re-elected in their own right, it makes more sense for the Governor to appoint a conservative Nevadan to fill out the remaining term of Senator Ensign, rather than put an appointed Senator in great jeopardy of not winning re-election in 2012.

The Tea Party Express suggests that distinguished Nevadans such as former Governor Bob List and former Treasurer Bob Seale would make outstanding interim appointments.  They could serve with great distinction for the next two years, and Nevada would be continuously represented in the House and Senate without the disruption of a Special Election.

Some have suggested the law be interpreted or changed so that political party caucuses would be used to select nominees.  We are opposed to any process that favors political insiders over the views and interests of the conservative voters of the state.

For further information or to schedule an interview, please contact Levi Russell at or (509) 979-6615


I hate to rain on anyone’s Tea Party Parade, but many TPX contentions regarding the possible outcomes of a party-chosen vs. primary-elected candidate are highly questionable. Where to begin…

First, assuming Governor Sandoval appoints Dean Heller to the Senate, Nevada special election rules dictate that he will then set a special election date (to occur within six months) for the open House seat. Once that date is chosen, there will be either a “free for all” primary election for all parties, or — as TPX points out — the parties will nominate candidates according to party rules (generally: via a vote of each party’s caucus or central committee). Whichever way it goes, the rules will be the same for all parties.

We do not yet know which scenario it will be, because Nevada law is a bit vague and in any case may be overridden by a federal statute. Secretary of State Ross Miller will issue an opinion on the law as soon as the governor announces his appointment, and we’ll go from there.

Second, the claim that the NV GOP caucus is made up of “political insiders” not only reveals typical TPX animosity toward all party structures, but also illustrates their (apparent) ignorance of the Republican ground game in Nevada. The executive board of the Clark County Republican Party, which accounts for a large percentage of the state’s GOP caucus (because 70% of the state lives in Clark), was last year taken over by Tea Party and Ron Paul types who are anything but party “insiders” and members of the good ol’ boy establishment. Naturally there are still some insiders on the inside, but they do not by any means run the GOP show.

What was left unsaid in the TXP presser is this:

If a GOP central committee caucus vote decides who the Republican candidate will be, their darling, Sharron Angle, probably does not stand much chance to be the chosen one. Sad for them — especially in light of the $500,000 they threw into her primary campaign last year — but the fact is, tea partiers and old-schoolers alike are concerned Angle could lose to a likable moderate or conservative Democrat. Whether fans of Angle or not — the base is divided on the Angle question, and her negatives with the base are high — many Republicans say they are just not prepared to risk a loss.

At this point, many Republicans say they believe state party chairman and former state Senator Mark Amodei, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, or pretty much any other GOP candidate has a better shot to win a general election than Angle. They know Heller’s district is by no means assured to the Republicans, and they want to nominate the most conservative candidate with the best shot at holding the seat.

Second, regarding the incumbency advantage or disadvantage for Heller, there is an argument to be made either way…but Heller probably stands to lose little and gain much by already being in the Senate when he runs for the seat next year. Such as: more statewide name recognition (which he very much needs in Clark County), use of Senatorial stationery and the NRSC’s statewide mailing lists, and some sensible Senate votes to point out to Nevada’s voters when campaign season is in full swing next summer. It is foolish to claim with any confidence that Heller, if appointed to the Senate, has less of a chance at reelection than otherwise.

Third, re: redistricting, it will not in any way be decided by the outcome of the special election, but by the inner workings of the Nevada Legislature and possible the courts. Redistricting depends on numerous factors including:

– various negotiations re: the state budget (the two should not be related, but they are)

– the gumption of the governor re: vetoing Democrat-drawn redistricting maps (Sandoval so far seems unafraid to use his veto stamp, and he has stated he’ll veto as many maps as it takes to get a fair final version)

– potential compromise-driven crossover votes from either moderate Democrats or Republicans in the Nevada senate (possible), and

– whether or not the matter ends up in court, which it very well may.

In any case, there is little (if any) doubt that Governor Sandoval is going to appoint Dean Heller to the Senate…so TPX is likely wasting its energy seeking a different outcome.

Likely GOP Presidential Candidate Tim Pawlenty Talks About Gaming And Yucca Mountain In Vegas Visit

By Sean Whaley | 8:48 pm April 19th, 2011

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican who is evaluating a run for president in 2012, said today he would be willing to reconsider whether Yucca Mountain is a suitable site for the long-term disposal of nuclear waste.

Pawlenty, in Las Vegas to meet with local Republicans, also said gambling has a “corrosive” effect on some people’s lives, but that legalized gaming is a local issue that should not be under the control of the president or federal government.

Pawlenty was interviewed on Jon Ralston’s Face to Face television program.

Nevada is an early caucus state for the Republican presidential primary next year. Former GOP Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is considering a run as well, won the Nevada caucus in 2008.

Asked about Yucca Mountain, Pawlenty acknowledged a comment in 2002 that he wanted Yucca Mountain to open as a nuclear repository to handle waste from Minnesota. But circumstances have changed since then, including the question of seismic activity around the Nevada site 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas. There is also a question about groundwater flows at the site, he said.

“We need to have a safe, permanent facility to house our nuclear waste in this country or somewhere else,” Pawlenty said. “It appeared in 2002 that that would probably be Yucca Mountain, but some things have changed since then. And I continue to believe we need to solve the problem and have a repository for our waste.

“I think in the wake of Japan, all I’m saying is we should step back and make sure we have this properly calibrated,” he said. “But we need to have a federal repository. Now whether that is Yucca Mountain or not I’m willing to review.”

Ralston also asked about Pawlenty’s criticism of gambling in 2003, which the former two-term governor said destroys people’s lives. Ralston noted that Pawlenty was holding events on the Las Vegas Strip during his visit.

“Clearly gambling has a corrosive effect on some people’s lives, clearly it does, you can’t deny that, I mean of course it does,” Pawlenty said. “But this isn’t a matter for the president or the federal government to decide. Each state, each locality can decide, based on its history, its economy, its people, its priorities, what’s best for them.”

Pawlenty said he has “enjoyed a game” of blackjack, three card poker and slots in his life but that for some people gambling is a serious problem.

“But this is not for the federal government to decide,” he said. “And what is right for Nevada may be different than what is right for Minnesota or what is right for Iowa.”

Pawlenty also talked about the need for “common sense, reasonable” reforms to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as a way to get a handle on the federal government’s growing deficit.

For social security, there needs to be an increase in the retirement age for new participants in the program, and cost-of-living adjustments need to be based on need and not awarded automatically to all recipients, he said.

“Those two things are examples of common sense, reasonable, constructive solutions to real problems that I think we can get the country to support if we will lead,” Pawlenty said.

Audio clips:

GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty says Yucca Mountain may not be the best choice for a nuclear waste repository:

041911Pawlenty1 :16 for our waste.”

Pawlenty says he is willing to review whether Yucca Mountain is suitable:

041911Pawlenty2 :11 willing to review.”

Pawlenty says gambling has a corrosive impact on some people’s lives but that it is a local, not federal, decision:

041911Pawlenty3 :17 best for them.”

Pawlenty says the country’s entitlement programs need common sense reforms:

041911Pawlenty4 :08 if we’ll lead.”

Former Governor Bob List Says Governor Sandoval Should Decide Next State GOP Chairman

By Elizabeth Crum | 6:49 pm March 10th, 2011

Former Nevada Governor and RNC Committeeman Bob List said late this afternoon that he is not ready to either privately or publicly endorse a candidate to replace soon-to-be departed state GOP chairman Mark Amodei until Governor Sandoval chimes in with his preferred choice.

“Governor Sandoval is the leader of the state party,” said List. “I will wait to hear who he thinks can best fill Chairman Amodei’s shoes before saying anything more on this matter.”

List said he sees no reason why an election for chairman cannot happen at the next Nevada Republican Central Committee Meeting scheduled on April 1-2 in Carson City, though GOP operatives around the state were today saying a special election may be necessary if things cannot be organized in time.

Las Vegas businessman and former state senate candidate Patrick McNaught and Amy Tarkanian, wife of former U.S. Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, were two names being bandied about in GOP circles today as possible contenders for the chairmanship. Others will no doubt surface in the days to come.





Rural Nevada Lawmaker Goicoechea Retains GOP Assembly Leadership Post

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 4:02 pm November 4th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Rural Nevada lawmaker Pete Goicoechea was elected as minority leader today by the 16-member Assembly Republican caucus.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, will continue in the leadership position he assumed when Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, stepped down. Gansert did not run for re-election to the Assembly. She was named yesterday to Gov.-elect Brian Sandoval’s transition team.

“I am honored to have the support of the Republican caucus as we enter the 2011 legislative session,” Goicoechea said. “I’m excited as our members are stepping forward and preparing to lead in the coming months and make a firm stand in the Legislature for small, effective government.

“We look forward to working with Gov.-Elect Sandoval, our colleagues in the Senate, and the Democrats in the Assembly in the coming months,” he said.

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart was elected assistant leader. Assemblymen Mark Sherwood and Tom Grady were elected whips.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, also sought the leadership position.

“I had hoped for another outcome, but Pete is a good man,” Hambrick said. “He is an upfront individual. I am supporting him 100 percent. We will be unified going into session.”

Assembly Republicans picked up two seats in the Tuesday general election, giving them 16 members and enough to take away the two-thirds veto-proof majority held by Democrats in 2009. It was the first gain for the caucus since 2002.

Nine members of the caucus are newly elected.

GOP Caucus Discusses Expansion of State Sales Tax, Reduction of Business Taxes

By Sean Whaley | 4:55 am August 24th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said today Nevada voters should be asked to expand the state sales tax to include food purchases as a way to raise revenue and broaden the tax base.

But any such revenue hike should be accompanied by a reduction in the state’s regressive business taxes, he said.

Asking voters to apply the two percent state share of the sales tax to food could bring in half a billion dollars over the two-year budget, he said.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said he believes new tax revenues will be needed to get a balanced budget in the 2011 session, but that any revenue increase should come in tandem with reductions in the modified business tax.

Goicoechea, interviewed on the Nevada NewsMakers television program, said he believes the state will be able to get by with less than $1 billion in tax increases.

“But I do believe we’re going to have to have some revenue increases, and I would hope they come in the way of reforms,” he said.

Goicoechea said it is unfortunate the sales tax expansion idea was not put before the voters in the upcoming November election.

Goicoechea said he is willing to look to expanding the sales taxes to services as well, but that any such expansion would have to cover all services uniformly. In the initial discussions on a services tax there are already groups clamoring to be exempted from such a levy, he said.

“If you’re going to put a sales tax on services, then no exemptions, everyone gets to pay,” Goicoechea said. “But let’s balance it with reducing some of these other very regressive taxes on business.”

Drastic budget cuts will also have to be a part of any balanced budget, he said.

The expansion of the sales tax while reducing the overall rate was proposed earlier this year by the Nevada Policy Research Institute.

Several members of the GOP caucus running for re-election this year had mixed reactions to Goicoechea’s suggestions.

Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, said tax reform is fine as long as it is revenue neutral. Goedhart said the NPRI proposal to broaden the sales tax to include food and services is a good starting point.

The overall 6.85 percent sales tax rate could then be reduced to about 3.5 percent, and the state could also do away with the modified business tax, reduce or eliminate the insurance premium tax and significantly lower vehicle registration fees, he said.

The expanded sales tax would then allow the state to begin growing its way out of its fiscal problems, Goedhart said.

As chairman of the Nevada chapter of Americans for Tax Reform, Goedhart said total government spending on services in Nevada is about $40 billion, which puts the state in the middle of the states in spending per capita. The Legislature should have no trouble finding $3 billion in savings out of $40 billion in total spending to balance the budget, he said.

Goedhart pointed to excessively high public salaries such as those earned by firefighters as one example of where spending reductions can be made.

Assemblyman Tom Grady, R-Yerington, said any specific tax proposals are premature, and that the idea of going to the voters for an expansion of the state share of the sales tax to include food would not help in the upcoming biennium.

Since the proposal is not on the ballot for November, it would not be able to go to the voters until 2012, he said.

But Grady said with a shortfall that could be as high as $3.5 billion, “everything is on the table.”

“I agree with Mr. Goicoechea we’re going to have to look closely at zero-based budgeting,” he said.

But if the Legislature gets to the point where it can’t fund education or prisons, then it will have to find money elsewhere, Grady said.

The Legislature needs to wait to see what proposals the new governor will have, and it needs to know how short the budget is before there is a discussion of taxes, he said.

Assemblyman John Hambrick, R-Las Vegas, said Goicoechea’s proposals are not new but come from the NPRI study on expanding the sales tax released earlier this year.

“We need to look at the NPRI study at least as a starting point,” he said.

But the Legislature also has to keep in mind that the Nevada economy is suffering and businesses are not in a position right now to create new jobs, Hambrick said.

“We need to provide some relief,” he said.

Goicoechea has joined Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, and Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, in saying taxes will very likely have to be part of any plan to erase a $3 billion shortfall in what is expected to be required to provide government services and education for the next two years.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, has not weighed in publicly on the tax discussion. Oceguera is expected to become speaker in the 2011 session.

The two leading candidates for governor, Republican Brian Sandoval and Democrat Rory Reid, have rejected the idea of balancing the state budget with tax increases.

Goicoechea said the critical issue for the 14 Assembly Republicans in the November election is picking up at least one or two more seats to take away the two-thirds majority now held by Assembly Democrats. A two-thirds vote is required to raise taxes, and without at least 15 members the Assembly Republicans will wield little power in those discussions.

Budget discussions and the all-important debate over redrawing state political boundaries make it critical for Republicans to have enough members to have a place at the negotiating table, he said.

“You don’t want to be on your back when you’re waging a fight which you are if you are irrelevant and under 15 (members),” he said.

Seats Republicans see as potential take-aways include the open District 40 seat in Carson City and the District 13 seat in Henderson now held by freshman Democrat Ellen Spiegel, Goicoechea said. Republicans also want to hold on to the District 13 seat in Las Vegas that is now open with the departure of Republican Chad Christensen, he said.

Goicoechea said he is encouraged by some of the voter registration trends and the large number of nonpartisan and minor party voters who may support Republicans in November.

Hambrick said he believes Republicans have a few other opportunities to pick up Assembly seats in November. They include the open Assembly 31 seat in Sparks, the Las Vegas 5 seat held by Democrat Marilyn Dondero Loop, and the Henderson 29 seat held by Democrat April Mastroluca, he said.


Audio clips:

Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea says taxes will be part of budget debate next year:

082310Goicoechea1 :15 that we have.”

Goicoechea says a tax on services has to be across the board with no exemptions:

082310Goicoechea2 :10 taxes on business.”

Goicoechea says key for Assembly GOP is to pick up seats in November election:

082310Goicoechea3 :30 go to session.”

Assembly Republican Caucus Launches New Media Contacts To Keep Voters Informed

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 3:18 pm June 22nd, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Republican Assembly Caucus has launched a media suite to keep Nevadans engaged and informed about lawmaker activities as the general election campaign season gets under way.

The suite includes a new website, blog, twitter feed, Facebook page and e-newsletter.

The resources will provide real-time updates about the caucus and its individual members. Nevadans will be able to access campaign, special event, legislative and community information at the click of a button, via computer or phone.

“I am pleased that the caucus and its members are utilizing every available medium to communicate with the residents and families of Nevada,” said Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka. “The caucus looks forward to exploring new ways to remain accessible to the people we represent.”

Goicoechea was recently elected minority leader, replacing Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, who is not running for re-election. In an interview last week, Goicoechea said his leadership position will last at least through the November election, when newly elected caucus members will meet to decide leadership positions for the 2011 legislative session.

At least seven current members of the Assembly GOP caucus will not be returning in 2011 due to term limits, retirement or because they are seeking higher office. The other seven must win re-election in November.

Goicoechea said the caucus is working together to pick up at least one new seat while holding on to the 14 the GOP controls now to take away the two-thirds majority Democrats now have in the 42-member lower house. Fifteen votes would give what Goicoechea calls a “super minority” where Democrats could not vote to raise taxes or override a governor veto without Republican support. Democrats now have a supermajority with 28 seats.

Others would say the GOP Assembly is in a super minority now, since there aren’t enough votes to stop a Democrat agenda.

“We recognize the need to get above 14 if we are to be effective at all in the next session,” he said. “The whole caucus is behind that.”

audio clip:

Goicoechea on need for Assembly GOP to pick up more seats:

062210Goicoechea :22 you’re in trouble.”

Goicoechea Named GOP Assembly Minority Leader

By Sean Whaley | 12:43 pm June 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – The Republican Assembly Caucus has elected Assemblyman Pete Goicoechea as its new minority leader, replacing the retiring Assemblywoman Heidi Gansert.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, was the unanimous choice of the 14-member caucus.

Gansert, R-Reno, is not running for re-election to the Assembly.

Republicans are outnumbered by Democrats in the Assembly by a 28-14 margin, the number of votes Democrats need to raise taxes or override a veto by the governor. The Assembly GOP caucus is working to pick up additional seats in the November general election to eliminate this numerical advantage in the 2011 session.

Goicoechea said: “I look forward to working with fellow caucus members to elect additional Republicans to the Legislature, and I am excited to present the GOP case to voters. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us these next few months and we are determined to get it done.”

Gansert said Goicoechea will be an outstanding leader for the caucus.

State GOP Complaint Against Treasurer Marshall Dismissed By Ethics Panel

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:39 am June 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A two-member panel of the state Ethics Commission has decided there is insufficient cause to move forward with a complaint that state Treasurer Kate Marshall used her office to benefit her re-election bid.

The Nevada State Republican Party filed the complaint in April, saying Marshall had inappropriately included her official office telephone number as a point of contact for her campaign. Marshall, a Democrat, is running for a second term.

But Caren Jenkins, executive director of the commission, said a review of the complaint Thursday by two commission members, one Republican and one Democrat, found no cause to move it forward for a full hearing.

The panel determined that Marshall’s state office phone number was included on a contact list for candidates prepared by the secretary of state’s office, not by Marshall herself, she said.

A similar complaint filed against Secretary of State Ross Miller was also rejected by an Ethics Commission panel last month.

Steve Martin, a Las Vegas Republican and former state controller running against Marshall, said he was disappointed the complaint was dismissed out of hand without a hearing. But the decision was not a surprise since a previous panel reached the same decision in Miller’s case, he said.

Marshall was also criticized by the Martin campaign for lending her voice to radio ads promoting a children’s contest involving a college savings program managed by her office, but the issue was not part of the ethics complaint.

Gary Gray, campaign consultant to Marshall said the decision was a vindication for his client and her record of accomplishment, success, and integrity. He criticized Martin, who lost his race for controller in 2006, for making a “bogus” ethics complaint.

Martin did not file the complaint, however. Acting state party Chairwoman Sherry Dilley filed the complaints against Marshall and Miller.

Contested GOP State Senate Primary Races Split Between Moderate And Conservative Candidates

By Sean Whaley | 10:44 am June 9th, 2010

CARSON CITY – In the fight for control of the Republican Party in the state Senate in the Tuesday primary it was an even split, with conservative candidates taking two of four contested seats and two others going to more moderate candidates backed by Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio.

The winners of the contested GOP Senate primaries, depending on the results in the November general election, could change the character of the caucus. Raggio, R-Reno, has voted for tax increases in past sessions and has worked across the aisle with Democrats to end often contentious legislative sessions.

Those calling themselves the true conservatives in the contested primaries say they will not compromise on taxes or other core Republican issues.

In Washoe District 2, Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks, defeated Washoe County Commissioner Bob Larkin, 59 percent to 41 percent. Larkin, the candidate endorsed by Raggio, had a much bigger war chest in the race. Gustavson has said he will not compromise on core Republican values and will not vote for tax increases.

In another closely watched race, Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, lost to state employee Ben Kieckhefer, in the Washoe 4 contest. Kieckhefer, who is endorsed by Raggio and the caucus, won 42 percent to 37 percent. Two other Republicans also ran in the primary.

Kieckhefer, who had more money to spend on the race, repeatedly ran an ad showing Cobb responding awkwardly to media questions about an incident in which he had destroyed a campaign sign belonging to a Reno Democrat running for another state Senate seat. The ad called his leadership abilities into question.

In Clark County in the GOP Senate 9 primary, challenger Elizabeth Halseth defeated incumbent Sen. Dennis Nolan, R-Las Vegas, 57 percent to 43 percent. Nolan was criticized by Halseth in the campaign for testifying as a character witness for a friend who was being tried for a sex crime. Nolan said he was subpoenaed to testify by the public defender’s office.

Halseth said she will not support tax increases if elected to the Senate.

In the Senate 12 race in Clark County, Raggio-backed candidate Assemblyman Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, defeated Patrick McNaught 55 percent to 40 percent. A third candidate pulled 6 percent.

In all four races, the senators that have been serving in the districts were supporters of Raggio in the GOP caucus.

Janine Hansen, a long-time political activist and Independent American Party candidate for the Assembly seat in Elko, said the outcomes of the state Senate contests are not a surprise.

“Races are often determined not by ideology but by who has the most money and who runs the smartest campaign,” she said. “Even when there is tremendous interest in the elections like this year, those who are involved are a minority.

“The vast majority of people still respond to the name they know the best,” Hansen said.

Gustavson said his grass roots, door-to-door campaign made the difference in the Washoe 2 race.

“I’m always outspent,” he said. “At least 2 to 1 this time. Hard work is what wins races.”

Kieckhefer, who faces an Independent American candidate but no Democrat in the November general election, said he believes his campaign of offering effective, conservative leadership made a connection with voters. He also challenged any notion that he is not a conservative Republican.

“Obviously we have a massive budget shortfall we need to address by prioritizing spending,” he said. “I stand ready to make those hard decisions.”

In a fifth GOP Senate primary, Assemblyman James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, defeated fellow conservative Steve Yeater in the Capital Senate District. Settelmeyer is backed by Raggio, but has taken a strong stand against tax increases during his tenure in the Assembly. Long-time Raggio supporter Mark Amodei, who had held the seat, was term-limited out of office. He is now chairman of the Nevada State GOP.

In addition to Amodei, Raggio had the backing of Sens. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, and Nolan in past legislative sessions. Townsend and Washington also left office due to term limits. Hardy resigned.

A change in the approach by Senate Republicans in the 2011 session could mean tough negotiating with Democrats over how to balance a budget that is expected to be $3.4 billion out of balance. Other critical issues include the redrawing of political boundaries, economic diversification and a major tax debate.

If enough GOP Senate Republican are unwilling to compromise on taxes and the budget in the 2011 session, Raggio’s job could be considerably more difficult as leader of the caucus. Republicans are a minority in the Senate 9-12, the first time they have not been the majority since 1991.

Raggio is in the middle of his final term in the Senate, having served longer than anyone in state history. He was first elected to the Senate in 1973. Rumors circulated earlier this year that Raggio might resign in mid-term and not serve in 2011. Raggio has said he has no plans to step down.