Victims of the tax hike? Not quite yet
September 8, 2004
The Nevada Legislature will have a lot of new faces when it convenes in February, as voters on Tuesday dismissed three of its longest-serving members.
Beyond that, though, there was not much of a pattern to the primary election and we’ll have to wait until November to see if the 2003 Legislature’s record-setting tax increases will be the deciding factor.
Ray Rawson, Ann O’Connell and Wendell Williams, all from Las Vegas, had a combined 56 years of experience in the Senate and Assembly. All three were defeated in the primary election and will be among at least a dozen legislators not returning.
Rawson’s loss was to Bob Beers, an incumbent Assemblyman, in the Republican primary. It may have been decided on the tax issue, as Beers was a leader of the 15 Republican holdouts while Rawson voted for the tax package. But Las Vegas observers said it was more likely Beers simply outworked Rawson in the primary campaign.
O’Connell lost in a Republican Senate primary to Joe Heck in a campaign battle over who could sound more fiscally conservative. That can’t be – or at least shouldn’t be – chalked up to the tax battle, as O’Connell has been among the toughest critics of government spending during her two decades in the Legislature.
Williams, who lost the Democratic primary to retired teacher Harvey Munford for his North Las Vegas Assembly seat, brought on his own troubles that had nothing to do with tax increases. Double-dipping, driving with a suspended license and allegations surrounding a personal assistant all had Williams in a deep hole before any tax issues came up.
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One primary that may have hinged on the tax increase was in Reno, where one-term Assembly Republican Jason Geddes lost to Brooks Holcomb, who hammered Geddes for voting for the package.
With the preliminaries out of the way, attention can turn to the November general election. The tax controversy will remain the No. 1 topic, but it will be up to Nevada voters to determine if it’s the deciding factor when they cast their ballots.