Embattled Carson City Assemblyman P.K. O’Neill lost his bid for the GOP nomination in Assembly District 40.
But not to the candidate the Carson Republican Central Committee wanted and endorsed. Voters rejected political newcomer Chris Forbush, splitting their vote closely between incumbent O’Neill and former Carson City Treasurer Al Kramer — both of whom have long records of community involvement in the capital.
With Carson City and most of the district’s Washoe County ballots counted, Kramer led by 161 votes — 1,709 to 1,548 and is the projected winner.
Forbush had just 1,052 votes, falling behind Washoe Valley’s Sam England, another newcomer who collected 1,515 ballots as of press time.
While he declined to declare victory saying: “Surprises could happen,” Kramer had a lead O’Neill said could be extremely difficult to overcome. O’Neill said he believes Kramer is the victor in the race.
“I’m disappointed but I respect the vote,” O’Neill said.
He said he will support Kramer in the November election to ensure the seat will remain Republican.
Kramer will face Democrat Michael Greedy in the general along with Independent American John Wagner.
O’Neill earned the wrath of the Carson Republican Central Committee after changing his mind and voting for the legislature’s and the governor’s education funding package during the 2015 session.
But the central committee also refused to endorse Kramer even though some of those party officials had encouraged Kramer to challenge O’Neill.
That $1.3 billion tax package consists mostly of making permanent tax increases used to balance the 2011 and 2013 budget. But it also included the estimated $121 million that would be raised by the so-called commerce tax, which many Republicans say was the same thing as the margins tax initiative defeated by voters in 2014. Experts point out in fact the two are different in significant ways.
But in their anger, the central committee said O’Neill broke his promise to oppose taxes and refused to endorse him for re-election or even allow him to participate in the party process. In fact, they voted to remove him from the Carson chapter of the party — a vote that has no force since it’s a First Amendment right for someone to join any political party.
O’Neill said he voted for the tax package to better fund K-12 education in Nevada — including paying for several new programs that are designed to improve parental involvement and school choice. He said also key in his decision was getting more funding for Western Nevada College in Carson City.
He said Tuesday night he wouldn’t change his vote.
Kramer, who has been around government since becoming a computer programmer for the State of Nevada in April 1990, was previously elected treasure of Carson City from January 1995 until January 2015, when he took a job as deputy treasurer for Investments for State of Nevada.
In the Nevada Appeal’s primary election guide, Kramer said, if elected: “I will work to provide more jobs in this district. I will support efforts to enhance the economic development of the areas so that employers will bring jobs here. Employers will not come if the tax structure is uncertain or onerous. I would work to repeal the Commerce tax and to make future taxes predictable. I will also work to make government more transparent and accountable.”