(Reno Gazette-Journal) – Nevada Republicans made significant gains in last week’s election, keeping the governor’s office, capturing a congressional seat, adding a seat in the state Senate and taking away the Democrats super majority in the state Assembly.
Yet the Grand Old Party failed in its No. 1 objective, defeating U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Many influential Republicans didn’t help in the fight against Reid. Community-leading Republicans such as Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, Sparks Mayor Geno Martini and state Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio joined Republicans for Reid, taking a block of Republican moderates with them.
It helped put Republican candidate Sharron Angle about 40,000 votes short of victory and her followers seething with resentment over the turncoats.
It also exposed the ever-present rift between the conservative and moderate wings of the Nevada Republican Party. Despite efforts to “come together,” the resentment over Reid will percolate for awhile, some Republicans said.
“Going forward, this is a real problem,” said Eric Herzik, a registered Republican and chairman of the political science department at the University of Nevada, Reno. “There is a clear split in the Republican Party with the influx of a very vocal and very conservative and largely uncompromising tea party activists.”
The blow back against the Republicans for Reid claimed its first victim last week when State Senate Republicans ousted the 84-year-old Raggio from his caucus leader position, one that he had held for 28 consecutive years and 32 years in all.
Although Raggio chose to resign, its was clear that Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, had the votes to usurp the king.
The leadership change came after Republicans in Washoe, Clark, Douglas, Elko and Churchill counties passed resolutions in support of McGinness.
“This is not something that anybody is going to forgive and forget what they did in this race anytime soon,” said Chuck Muth of Las Vegas, a conservative blogger and activist. “Geno Martini and Cashell won their races and that’s fine. But it doesn’t mean they will be forgiven by the Republican Party at the grass roots level who feel they were traitors to their party.”