(Chuck Muth) – As expected and as usual, Republicans in the Nevada state assembly this week opted to continue down the same path of appeasement and irrelevance they’ve traveled since the 21-21 split in 1994.
Interim Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea was elected to continue as Minority Leader for the 2011 session. In his press release, an “excited” Goicoechea boasted that in “This election cycle the Republican Assembly Caucus recruited candidates to run in every assembly district in the state and gained seats for the first time since 2002.”
Second part first: Assembly Republicans have been so pathetic in losing recent elections that it was almost impossible NOT to pick up seats this time around. That they picked up two seats in GOP-majority districts in the Year of the Anti-Obama Tea Party isn’t exactly surprising.
Fact is, Republicans blew at least two races they should have won, and could have won another four. So this “we gained seats for the first time since 2002” really isn’t much to be crowing about.
And to boast that the caucus “recruited candidates to run in every assembly district in the state” is to confuse quantity with quality. I met some of those candidates they claim to have recruited. We’re talking junior varsity, at best. So again, this isn’t exactly something to be thumping your chest about.
In any event, it was also announced that Goicoechea’s left-hand man this coming session will be Assistant Minority Leader Lynn Stewart – a man who never met a principle he wasn’t willing to compromise on in the interest of going along to get along.
The Wicked Whip of the North will be Tom Grady, another go-along-to-get-along mushy moderate who voted for a passel of bad bills in the ’09 session – including that $292 million tax hike on tourism. How lovely for conservatives that the man in charge of “whipping” Republicans in the next session will be “whipping” them to embrace the Democrats’ agenda.
The curious development was naming freshman Mark Sherwood as the Southern Whip. I can understand why they wouldn’t name a conservative like Richard McArthur to a leadership position (God forbid!), but why “dis” moderate Missy Woodbury? What are they mad at her for?
Sherwood’s going to be an interesting case study as things progress. In his campaign he bought into the establishment BS about not signing the Tax Pledge so he could have a “seat at the table.” But some who have gotten to know him since have described the guy as a conservative “spitfire.” So maybe there’s hope after all.
But the bottom line is that nothing really has changed from the last session when Barbara Buckley ran circles around and over the hapless assembly Republicans under Heidi Gansert – which was nothing new from how Richard Perkins ran circles around and over the hapless assembly Republicans under Garn Mabey.
In 2011, Speaker John Oceguera will once again run circles around and over the hapless assembly Republicans under “Tax My Meat” Pete.
And the GOP caucus will be divided once again, too.
The appeasement wing will consist of Goicoechea, Grady, Stewart, John Ellison and probably and Woodbury (though she may be moving to be a little more independent). The conservative wing will consist of Ed Goedhart, John Hambrick, Dick McArthur, Ira Hansen, Crescent Hardy and probably Sherwood,
Swing votes will come from Scott Hammond, Randy Kirner, Kelly Kite and Pete Livermore. At first blush, I would guess Hammond and Kirner lean more toward the moderates, and Kite and Livermore lean more toward the conservatives. So this could be a wash.
The unknown at this point is Pat Hickey. In his previous stint in the Assembly back in 1997, he garnered a general reputation as a moderate. But in my limited dealings and correspondence with him since he became a candidate this year, he sure talks like a fire-breathing conservative.
While Republicans in the Assembly in ’09 were clearly divided right down the middle, 7-7, on many issues, I’m cautiously optimistic that the majority of the minority in 2011 will end up on the “right” side of far more issues. At least, I hope so.
One final note: Conservatives are going to have to stop these GOP leaders from holding these leadership elections just 36 hours after the general elections. Republicans in Congress won’t be holding their leadership elections until November 15 – two weeks afterward.
Why did Goicoechea force a vote so fast? Because with nine new members, he didn’t want to allow any time for anyone to effectively campaign for and possibly get enough votes to change leaders.
This lightning quick caucus election benefitted the status quo moderates because it didn’t allow conservatives to organize and possibly mount any serious challenges.
Heck, most of the freshmen didn’t even know their colleagues and probably met many of them for the first time yesterday. And yet they were expected to make an informed decision on leadership? Gimme a break.
If waiting two weeks before holding a leadership vote is good enough for Republicans in Congress, it should be good enough for Republicans in the Nevada Legislature. Conservatives ought not allow such slam-bam-thank-you-ma’am elections in the future. At least not without raising a stink.