Eugene T. Paslov: Vengeful GOP ousts Raggio just when state needs him most
I was dismayed and angered by the callous, thoughtless actions of Nevada’s Republican caucus leadership. They forced state Sen. Bill Raggio out of his leadership position. If ever we needed smart, knowledgeable legislators, it’s now.
Bill Raggio is the very best we have – intelligent, politically savvy, willing to work with the opposition when it’s in the best interest of the state. It is a grievous loss. The Nevada Republican Senate caucus leadership appears to be afflicted with the same deadly maladies that have consumed the national Republicans – partisan anger and revenge. Forcing Raggio out was a serious blunder.
I’ve know Sen. Raggio for 24 years. I first met him in the 1987 Legislative session. I had been appointed Superintendent of Schools after the ’85 session and first appeared before his committee in ’87. After I had introduced myself, the senator looked me straight in the eye and said, “Our Nevada Proficiency Test is a disgrace. Why is that and what are you going to do about it?” He didn’t really expect an answer, and I had enough sense not to give him one other than to say, “I’ll get right on it, Senator.”
Those six words constituted a promise to which Sen. Raggio held me. It also bound us together over the nine years I served as superintendent. We worked together to improve the proficiency test and to develop an accountability system for Nevada public schools, which was then almost non-existent and is now much improved.
Raggio will continue to serve during this next session, and will make contributions. His legacy is well established but may be diminished by the thoughtlessness of those who caused the leadership change.
To take Sen. Raggio out of the leadership when it is so critical to the state is equivalent to cutting off one’s legs before running the race. It appears that Raggio could not in good faith endorse Sharron Angle. The senator knew Angle from her time in the state Legislature and understood how toxic her radical views were. He joined with other prominent Nevada Republicans to endorse Harry Reid.
I suspect there are times when the good of the state and the welfare of the nation are more important than partisan politics. This was such a time. Sen. Raggio had the courage to act in the best interest of Nevada. He was punished.
Raggio knows more about the budget-making process than virtually anyone. Sen. McGinness, the new Senate minority leader, is a good man and will rely on Sen. Raggio. But it won’t be the same.
Revenge as a motive is never productive.
• Eugene Paslov is a board member of the Davidson Academy at the University of Nevada, Reno and the former Nevada state superintendent of schools.