(Chuck Muth) – A petition to launch a recall of Republican state Sen. Bill Raggio is expected to be filed later this week. At that point, organizers will need to collect around 15,000 signatures in 90 days to force a recall vote.
It’s a formidable, but far from impossible, task for the conservative tea party activists who are rightly angry with Raggio for going back on his 2008 campaign “guarantee” not to support higher taxes if re-elected. Raggio won his primary race against conservative former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle in the summer of ‘08….and then led the effort to pass over a billion dollars worth of higher taxes this past legislative session.
In a Reno Gazette-Journal story about the recall on Saturday, state Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, a close associate and Raggio lieutenant for many years, said the recall effort was “misguided.”
“It’s real easy to sit on the sidelines and say what you should or shouldn’t do,” Townsend told RGJ reporter Anjeanette Damon. “But the realities of managing a multi-billion dollar budget with the economy fluctuating significantly takes a real leader. Once in a while, you need to make significant tough decisions, and he’s been willing to make them.”
First, everyone – ESPECIALLY Sen. Raggio – knew the realities of the state of Nevada’s economy when they were campaigning in the summer of 2008. In fact, the Legislature was forced into a special session in June to deal with the budget cutting crisis. People throughout the political establishment were talking about tax hikes to save the budget from further cuts. The raise-taxes-or-cut-spending debate was fully engaged.
Sen. Raggio has a long record of voting for bigger government and higher taxes to pay for it. Indeed, he led Senate Republicans to vote for the then-largest tax hike in Nevada’s history back in 2003.
So it’s entirely understandable that he was in a vulnerable position over the tax issue in his Republican primary race against Ms. Angle. And rather than run honestly and tell the voters that he thought higher taxes might be necessary to deal with the budget crisis, Sen. Raggio issued his no-new-taxes guarantee for the sole purpose of winning his primary race.
Leveling with the voters is what would have taken a “real leader.” Instead, Sen. Raggio told the rubes what they wanted to hear….and then turned around, safely re-elected, and did whatever the hell he wanted.
The “tough decision” would have been to tell the voters exactly where he REALLY stood on this issue – on a pond of jello. Instead, he misled his constituents. That takes a “real leader”?
Sen. Townsend also said “recalls should be reserved for politicians who do something illegal and not used as retribution for an unpopular vote on a policy issue.”
First, no such requirement in the recall statute exists. The recall option exists as an avenue for ensuring that the voters, not the politicians, retain ultimate control over their government and elected officials for whatever reason, not just lawbreaking.
As I recall, for example, recalled California Gov. Gray Davis didn’t break any laws. He just broke the state.
Secondly, this recall isn’t being initiated “as retribution for an unpopular vote on a policy issue.” This recall is being launched because Sen. Raggio told the voters of his district a whopper. He “guaranteed” he wouldn’t raise their taxes and then went back on his word.
Now, maybe that’s not illegal….since he didn’t give his no-new-taxes word under oath….but does that make it any less egregious to tax-strapped voters who were misled into voting for him? Or to all of the citizens of Nevada who got socked with a billion dollars worth of tax hikes because Sen. Raggio deceived the voters of his district?
No, this is exactly what the recall statute is there for.
The ball is now in the recall committee’s court. Media reports say the organizers are “tea party” activists who have been showing up in impressive numbers at rallies across the state since last April. But showing up at a rally carrying signs is a whole lot different from going door-to-door collecting signatures to force a recall vote of the Senate Minority Leader.
The tea party movement’s credibility is now on the line.
They don’t have to win a recall election against Sen. Raggio. But they do have to force such an election by gathering enough signatures in the 90-day time frame.
If not, politicians will see the tea party movement as all bark and no bite. At which point it will cease to possess any real political power. Politicians up and down the ballot will simply blow them off. So I hope these folks have their “stuff” together and get the signatures they need for the recall.
I also hope the voters of Sen. Raggio’s district then send a clear and unmistakable signal to the rest of Nevada’s political class that they “won’t be fooled again” by voting for the recall. Such a vote would send shockwaves throughout the Nevada political establishment which would have ramifications for years to come. And it will cement the tea party movement as a political powerhouse on par with organized labor and even the Reid Dynasty in 2010.
Tea for everyone!