(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Only a handful of Reno residents attended the first meeting today of a group seeking to recall veteran state Sen. Bill Raggio, but organizers say the response by phone and email suggests the volunteer effort will soon gain momentum.
Organizer Dana Allen, a businessman who has been active in Tea Party rallies, said he would like to get about 250 volunteers to circulate recall petitions against Raggio, a Republican who has served in the Senate since 1973. Raggio is in the middle of his final term in the state Senate.
But Allen and other members of the Recall Raggio campaign believe they can get the job done in 30 days or less with 100 volunteers. They will have 90 days once a recall notice is filed with the Secretary of State.
The group will need to gather just over 18,000 signatures of registered voters in Raggio’s Senate District 3, which encompasses western Reno and Washoe County, to force a recall. The number is 25 percent of those who voted in the 2008 general election in the district. Those who sign must be residents in the district.
Allen said he believes Raggio misled voters in his 2008 reelection bid when he defeated conservative Republican Sharron Angle in the GOP primary.
Raggio was quoted as saying: “This is not the time to start talking about raising taxes. It is something we can’t even consider.”
Allen said Raggio, who later voted for a $780 million tax increase to fund the 2009-2011 budget, would not have won the primary if not for his verbal no taxes pledge.
Raggio said today he would not dignify the recall effort by offering any comment. He did say it is the first recall effort aimed at him in his state Senate career.
Raggio was one of a majority of lawmakers who voted for the tax hike, most of which will expire on June 30, 2011 unless re-implemented by lawmakers in the 2011 legislative session. The Legislature voted to raise sales and business taxes as well as vehicle registration fees. Gov. Jim Gibbons vetoed the tax increase but was overridden by the Legislature.
“What we’re doing is very positive,” Allen said. “It will get politicians to pay attention to average citizens.”
Allen acknowledged he was disappointed by the turnout at the first meeting, but said the Thursday afternoon meeting time was likely a factor. Fewer than 10 people showed up to discuss the recall.
But Debbie Landis, a Reno resident who is assisting the recall organizers, said she has received 100 emails from people interested in volunteering to gather signatures.
Allen said he expects to file a recall notice in about two weeks, once the effort is organized and ready to go forward.