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Republicans took brave stand against speaker

Chuck Muth
Special to the Appeal

Putting a few last Band-aids on the state budget to tide the government over for the remainder of this fiscal year was the easy part of this week’s special session. Getting Assembly Republicans, now in a super-minority, to go along with the quick fixes was another thing altogether.

An otherwise quiet protest vote against Democrat Barbara Buckley for speaker turned out to be the surprise story of the one-day confab and probably signals even stormier weather ahead for the regular session.

Two years ago only one brave Republican ” Assemblyman Ty Cobb of Reno ” was willing to risk Democratic retaliation and media ridicule by casting a principled vote of conscience against Buckley for speaker. This time a half-dozen of his colleagues joined him. And liberal voices from every corner of the state are in high dudgeon over it. Go figure.

But as it turns out, there may not have been any vote on Buckley for speaker at all.

Some folks are now trying to verify exactly what happened through audio recordings of the process, but it may turn out that the voice-vote everyone thought was to elect the speaker was actually only to close nominations. It’s possible that no actual speaker vote ever took place. Now wouldn’t that be fun?

If true, that could mean assembly-critters will get to go through the whole process all over again in February. At which point it will be interesting to see if additional GOP members find their spines and join the “Magnificent Seven” in voting against the most liberal, most partisan Democratic speaker in legislative history. Some people learn from their mistakes and fix them when given a second chance; others don’t.

Either way, the seven conservative Republicans who got it right the first time will likely continue to coalesce and be vocal flies in the Democrats’ ointment during the regular session. You see, while many say the super-minority Republicans are “insignificant” because Speaker Buckley has the 28 Democratic votes she needs to pass any bill ” including the two-third majority she needs for tax hikes, as well as veto overrides ” she decidedly does not want to hand Republicans partisan votes they’ll be able to use in the 2010 campaign. So the pressure will be on moderate Republicans to cross party lines and give the Democrats the ability to claim that liberal legislation, such as tax hikes, was “bipartisan.”

Republicans who sell out and give them the cover they so desperately covet in this

regard will be nothing more than “useful idiots.”

The hope is that somehow GOP Minority Leader Heidi Gansert finds it within herself and her caucus to hang together and not be played for such fools in exchange for a few legislative table scraps Speaker Buckley may be willing to throw their way.

Of course, some ” mostly on the left and in the squishy middle ” will decry any such partisan deviation from traditional GOP go-along-to-get-along appeasement. But there is simply nothing wrong whatsoever with respectfully acting as the loyal opposition on matters of principle ” a tradition as American as apple pie. Elections have consequences and majorities get to lead, but that doesn’t mean Republicans have to join them.

Republicans are in the minority these days because they’d forgotten what it was they were supposed to stand for: limited government. And they apparently forgot how to fight back when attacked by the left.

Maybe, just maybe, this week’s special session mini-revolt against the liberal agenda of Speaker Barbara Buckley by seven conservative Republicans signals an end of Kumbaya Republicanism.

Or they’ll revert to form and screw it all up again.

I put the odds at no better than 50-50.

– Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at chuck@citizenoutreach.com