How Gov. Gibbons can get his groove back |

How Gov. Gibbons can get his groove back

Chuck Muth
For the Nevada Appeal

So, is Gov. Jim Gibbons toast? In a general election held today … yeah. But in the Republican primary next June? Not so fast.

Brian Sandoval will raise a boatload of money and will rack up a boatload of “establishment” endorsements. Mike Montandon probably won’t raise as much money but will be a favorite of movement and social conservatives. But neither has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that Gov. Jim Gibbons has signed – and the next session of the Legislature will, once again, be all about raising taxes or not.

By the way, the two winning Republican gubernatorial candidates in Virginia and New Jersey this week both signed the Tax Pledge, as did 22 winning legislative candidates in both Virginia and New Jersey. Nevada Republican candidates, are you paying attention?

Anyway, GOP primary voters will be reminded over and over again that when the Legislature sent Gov. Gibbons that $800 million gorilla tax hike earlier this year, the governor…

Vetoed it.

And that will resonate with GOP primary voters, especially if his opponents continue to refuse to put their John Hancocks where their “no new taxes” lips are.

Here’s what the governor now should/could do to position himself for the Republican nomination next June despite his current in-the-cellar polling numbers:

1.) Answer, in advance, the question on everyone’s mind: How do you plug what is reportedly going to be a $2 billion budget hole when the stimulus money runs out and the Raggio tax hikes sunset next biennium? Go on record, with specifics, and dare his opponents to come up with a better solution, with specifics, and without raising taxes.

2.) Throw the tax-hike ball in the opposition’s corner. Tell them that when it comes to tax hikes, he supports the “public option.” Tell opponents to go out and collect enough signatures to put tax hikes on the ballot and then let the public vote on it, rather than lobbyist-controlled legislators. Tell the tax-hikers to do the same thing to raise taxes that he did in the 1990s to restrain them – take it directly to the public through the citizen initiative process.

3.) Launch the Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative II. The original Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative requires a 2/3 super-majority vote of the Legislature to pass tax hikes. The loophole is in allowing special interests – such as gaming and the unions – to put tax hikes on the ballot and then getting them passed with a simple majority vote. The governor should champion a constitutional amendment which also would require a 2/3 super-majority vote for tax hikes that appear on the ballot.

Do that and the governor’s prospects for winning the GOP nomination in June will look far more promising than they do today. Now about that general election….

• Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a limited-government public policy organization.