Douglas County Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler drew sharp protests Monday after telling the Storey County Central Committee he would vote for whatever his constituents want — even if that vote was to bring back slavery.
“I was hired to do a job, and what the people want me to do,” he said. “So if it’s clear how constituents want me to vote, that’s how I’m going to vote.”
“Yeah, I would. If that’s what they want, I’d have to hold my nose, I’d have to bite my tongue and they’d probably have to hold a gun to my head, but yeah, if that’s what the citizens want, the constituency wants,” he said.
Wheeler said he was elected to do what his constituents in Douglas, Storey and part of Lyon counties want, not necessarily what he wants.
Democrats predictably jumped on the statements as “reprehensible and disgusting.” And Wheeler didn’t get much better treatment from the top elected officials in his own party.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said Wheeler should retract the comments and apologize immediately.
“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society,” Sandoval said.
“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments were insensitive and wrong,” said Sen. Dean Heller, also a Republican. “As an elected representative, it is Assemblyman Wheeler’s responsibility to protect Nevadans’ civil liberties at all times. Such statements have no place in public discourse.”
At the Storey County Central Committee meeting in Lockwood, the remarks drew some applause.
It was the second time in less than two months Sandoval and Heller have issued a statement criticizing a Republican member of the Nevada Assembly.
The first was after Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno told a radio interviewer that 2014 would be a big year for Republicans because many Democratic voters wouldn’t turn out in an off election year.
“A lot of minorities, a lot of younger people will not turn out in a non-presidential year,” Hickey said. “It’s a great year for Republicans.”
Hickey ended up apologizing for the remarks.