NV Assembly minority leader won’t seek re-election | NevadaAppeal.com

NV Assembly minority leader won’t seek re-election

Sandra Chereb
Associated Press writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, in an unexpected announcement on Thursday, said she will not seek re-election to a fourth term this fall. Hours later, a former Republican assemblyman filed for the post.

In a written statement, Gansert, R-Reno, said she “decided to step aside and take a break from elected office.”

“I’ve been thinking about it for awhile,” Gansert told The Associated Press, “but I wanted to wait until after the special session.”

Pat Hickey, a Reno businessman and former journalist who served in the Assembly during the 1997 Legislature, immediately filed for the seat at the Washoe County registrar’s office.

He said he would go to Carson City “as a sensible citizen legislator prepared for the enormous budget challenges facing Nevadans in the 2011 session.”

Candidate filings began Monday and end March 12. National GOP Committeewoman Heidi Smith said she expects the open seat to attract a big field for the June 8 primary.

“There’s going to be a lot of people jumping in,” Smith said. “That’s a very Republican district.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said Gansert would be missed.

“I’m obviously disappointed,” he said. “I think she’s a great asset to the legislative process.

“Few people really have her depth of knowledge about the issues that confront us in the Legislature,” Raggio said. “She worked well with everyone, of both parties, in both houses.”

Gansert’s announcement comes three days after the Nevada Legislature ended a six-day special session to closed an $805 million budget gap.

Looking ahead, Gansert said she’s optimistic that cooperation between the Assembly Republican caucus and other legislators “will carry forward into the next session.”

Gansert has represented District 25 since 2004, and has served on the Ways and Means, Commerce and Labor, and Education committees. She has served as Assembly Republican leader since 2007.

Gansert took some heat from more conservative members of her caucus for supporting the appropriations bill that included fee increases and for not pushing more to make public sector collective bargaining subject to the state’s open meeting law.

Raggio said Gansert recognized the need to have a strong message as well as a willingness to compromise.

“There’s too many people over there who want to stick their heals in and say, ‘our way or no way,'” he said.

Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, agreed.

“I’m sorry to see her go because she was an Assembly member from Washoe County who could actually get something done,” Leslie said.