(Anjeanette Damon/Las Vegas Sun) – Saying it reflects the mood of their constituents, Senate Republicans purged Sen. Bill Raggio of Reno from their leadership in a unanimous vote Thursday, ousting an iconic figure after 30 years in the post — punishment for his support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Sen. Mike McGinness of Fallon stepped in as leader. He said he did so at the urging of constituents in Pahrump and Churchill County who asked him to do something about Raggio not supporting the party’s U.S. Senate nominee, Sharron Angle.
But sources say McGinness and other Republicans had lingering anger over the 2009 tax increase, which Raggio helped negotiate, and wanted the caucus to become a stronger beachhead against taxes.
Raggio also resigned his seat on the Senate Finance Committee, a sign that his willingness to compromise on taxes to preserve essential state services won’t reflect the philosophy of the new Republican caucus.
“They have their own budget objectives and I don’t want to be an impediment to those,” he said. “I want them to have the leeway to deal with the budget in their own terms.”
Raggio said he decided to withdraw from consideration as leader to preserve unity.
“There are a lot of agitators like Chuck Muth in the world and Tea Partyers who think I committed a mortal sin because I didn’t support Angle,” he said. “I didn’t want that to be part of the process.”
Muth, a conservative activist, wrote an open letter calling for Raggio’s ouster. Muth denied responsibility, saying Raggio “did it to himself.”
Raggio appeared at peace with his decision in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun in the minutes following the caucus vote.