Douglas County Assemblyman Jim Wheeler said Tuesday that his comment that he would support a return to slavery if his constituents wanted it was “clearly facetious.”
Nonetheless, he said in a statement that if the comments were offensive, “I sincerely apologize.”
“I intended the statement as an extreme example of something unacceptable,” he said.
Wheeler was asked during a Storey County town hall meeting how he would vote if he believed one thing, but his constituents believed the opposite.
“I stated the truth that ... in a representative republic, I’m hired by the people to represent their views. I used an over-the-top example of something that I absolutely do not agree with,” he said, referring to slavery. He added that if his constituents wanted him to support bringing back slavery, “then I simply couldn’t represent them anymore,” he said. “They would have to remove me from office or I’d have to resign.”
The story went viral Monday, picked up by a variety of national news outlets including The Washington Post. It also drew immediate reaction from Nevada’s top two elected Republicans, Gov. Brian Sandoval and Sen. Dean Heller, who sharply criticized Wheeler for the comments.
It was the second time in less than two months that Sandoval and Heller have levied criticism against one of their fellow elected Republicans. The first targeted Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey of Reno after he told a radio interviewer 2014 would be a great year for Republicans because, in an non-presidential-election year, “a lot of minorities, a lot of young people will not turn out.”
Hickey, too, ended up issuing an apology.