My partisan persona has been amused by the Republican disarray since the party’s electoral sweep in Nevada last November.
Just what has been so funny to us deflated Democrats (not to be confused with Deflate-gate)? It started with the premature designation of Assemblyman Ira Hansen as the to-be-elected speaker of the Assembly. He hardly had time to bask in his glory before decade-old newspaper columns full of racial slurs, authored by Mr. Hansen, surfaced. Off he went to Gov. Brian Sandoval’s woodshed, and his withdrawal as speaker-in-waiting quickly followed.
Another caucus of Assembly Republicans led to the choice of Rep. John Hambrick to be the new speaker. One of his first acts was to remove Rep. Michele Fiore as chair of the taxation committee, based on reports of million dollar tax liens against her. Speaker-designate Hambrick rescinded his action after she claimed gender discrimination, only to remove her again as taxation chair and majority leader because he wasn’t comfortable with her explanations.
Then came Mr. Sandoval’s bold education reforms and $1.1 billion tax increase. Democrats loved it, and the no-tax-Republicans screamed no, never. Ms. Fiore was really aroused, soon announcing she lacked only three votes to deny the two-thirds majority required to pass a tax increase.
Newly elected attorney general, Adam Laxalt, rode millions of outside Republican dollars, the governor’s coattails and his name to a big surprise victory in November. He wasted no time in joining Nevada as a party to the lawsuit of 25 other state attorneys general challenging President Obama’s recent immigration executive order. Being the political novice he is, Mr. Laxalt must have forgotten to discuss that action with Gov. Sandoval. Surely he wouldn’t intentionally go around the governor, the decorated naval officer he is, even though he apparently had the legal authority to do so.
Then along came two more of the six constitutional officers, Treasurer Dan Schwartz and Controller Ron Knecht, to challenge the guv’s budget by offering their own proposal. Too much money and too much tax, they said. Criticizing programs such as autism therapy and anti-bullying measures as wasteful, Mr. Schwartz said “What education needs is teachers, not social workers.” So there, you RINOs (RepublicanInNameOnly).
Tired of all this, Assemblyman Pat Hickey, the former Republican minority leader who was passed over for speaker this session, chastised his colleagues and said Nevadans “don’t need Assembly Republicans to continue behaving like a second-rate Vegas lounge act….” But the beat goes on.
Assembly freshman Chris Edwards is the center of a possible extortion investigation involving a claim he was offered $10,000 to change his vote and oppose Mr. Hambrick as speaker. According to Chuck Muth, leader of the conservative group Citizens Outreach, Mr. Edwards may in fact have solicited a payment in return for his vote. Citizens Outreach is behind the effort to recall Edwards, Hambrick and other Republican lawmakers.
Republicans have control of the state government — a strong governor, the lieutenant governor, big majorities in both legislative chambers, and the other four constitutional officers. These legislators and statewide officers should work with Governor Sandoval to enact his needed programs in the interest of Nevada, but they seem not to know how to govern. That could result in a Democratic wave in 2016.