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Assembly GOP’s “Benedict Arnolds” Threaten Nuclear Option

Shortly after I sent out yesterday afternoon’s Silver State Confidential, I was informed that the secret plans for a Throw-Michele-Under-the-Bus meeting of the Nevada Republican Assembly Caucus for tomorrow had been scuttled.

Public exposure appears to have the same effect on political conspirators as a flashlight turned on cockroaches.  Go figure.

The GOP establishment is absolutely horrified at the prospect of going into the 2015 Nevada Legislature with conservatives holding every one of the leadership positions in the Republican majority, as well as several of the key committees – especially the Taxation Committee.

You see, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R&R Advertising) is preparing to propose the Mother of All Tax Hikes: The Sequel, and the last thing he wants is 15 conservative Republicans blocking it in the Assembly the way they did in 2003 when then-Gov. Kenny  Guinn proposed the original Mother of All Tax Hikes.

And what is really giving him nightmares is the prospect of conservative Assemblywoman Michele Fiore not only chairing the Taxation Committee where his tax hike will be heard and considered, but as Majority Leader of the Assembly, as well, where she’ll have even greater clout and a bigger megaphone to rally public support in opposition.

Here’s the problem in the GOP Assembly: There are two very distinct, evenly-divided camps.

Camp A is led by conservatives Fiore, Assemblyman Ira Hansen and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler.

Camp B is led by GOP establishment moderate Assemblymen Paul Anderson, Pat “The Appeaser” Hickey and James Oscarson.

Each camp has 12 members.  Speaker-in-Waiting Assemblyman John Hambrick is the tie-breaking vote.

The conservative bloc supported Hambrick for Speaker.  The moderates backed Anderson.

Hambrick won. Fair and square.  And by tradition, the Speaker-elect of the majority party is elected Speaker by acclamation by members of both parties on the first day of the legislative session.

But Anderson and his side refuse to accept their defeat.  So instead, they’ve been whining and threatening Hambrick all week with the “nuclear option.”

The nuclear option would be for Anderson and his band of moderate Republicans to vote with the 17 Assembly Democrats to deny Hambrick the Speakership.

Anderson and, presumably, Democrat Assemblywoman Marilyn Kirkpatrick – who served as Speaker in the 2013 session – would serve as co-Speakers and the various committees would be reassigned with new Democrat-Republican co-chairs instead of Republicans chairing those committees outright.

Meaning Fiore would be ousted as Chair of the Taxation Committee.

That this gaggle of crybaby moderate Republicans would sell out to the Democrats for an unprincipled power-sharing arrangement with the Democrats after some 30 years serving as the Assembly’s minority party is simply outrageous.

Even more so when you recall the Great Cobb Convulsion of 2007.

Hearken back, dear reader, to the start of the legislative session that year.  The Democrats were the majority party.  Their Speaker-designate was uber-liberal Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley.

But when the vote for Speaker came up on opening day, Buckley was elected 41-1 rather than by acclamation.  The lone vote against her was cast by conservative freshman Assemblyman Ty Cobb of Reno.  For which Cobb was pilloried unmercifully by both Democrats and go-along-to-get-along establishment Republicans.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal described it at the time…

“You would have thought he’d danced naked into the chambers, painted blue and started slaughtering livestock.”

So when one lone conservative Republican opts not to vote for a liberal Democrat as Speaker…well, that’s a mortal sin and all hell breaks loose.

But when a dozen moderate Republicans threaten to vote with the Democrats to block a conservative-backed Speaker even though Republicans are in the majority…well, that’s OK.

No, it’s not.

And Anderson & Company should be ashamed of themselves for continuing this ongoing hissy fit.  It’s time for them to grow up and suck it up and get with the program.  It’s time for them to be what they always chastise conservatives to be when conservatives lose a leadership fight…

Good team players.


As the old saying goes, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard. And many of you have written asking which Assembly Republicans are on which team.

So with the understanding that some players might very well switch teams at any time in the future, here’s how they match up as of this morning…


Assemblywoman Michele Fiore
Assemblyman Ira Hansen
Assemblyman Jim Wheeler
Assemblyman John Ellison
Assemblywoman Jill Dickman
Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman
Assemblywoman Robin Titus
Assemblywoman Vicki Dooling
Assemblywoman Shelly Shelton
Assemblyman Brent Jones
Assemblyman John Moore
Assemblyman David Gardner


Assemblyman Paul Anderson
Assemblyman Chris Edwards
Assemblyman Pat “The Appeaser” Hickey
Assemblyman Randy “Kirner Tax” Kirner
Assemblyman Lynn “Bug Man” Stewart
Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury
Assemblyman Wes Duncan
Assemblyman James Oscarson
Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus
Assemblyman Derek Armstrong
Assemblyman P.K. O’Neil
Assemblyman Erv Nelson


Assemblyman John Hambrick