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John Hambrick: From the Doghouse to the Penthouse

In 2013 he was sentenced to the “Bad Boy” room in the Nevada Legislature.  Next year he’ll have the best office in the building, including his own private washroom and a dozen political handmaidens at his beck and call.

Thus is the Horatio Alger-like fortune of conservative Republican Assemblyman John Hambrick, the new Speaker-designate for the Nevada State Assembly, whose story reminds us of the old saying, “No guts, no glory.”

In 2012, Hambrick – a retired Secret Service agent – went “all in” with support for Republican candidate Wes Duncan in Duncan’s uphill race against then-Democrat Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, who was fast-tracked to be the next Speaker of the Assembly if he won his re-election bid.

He didn’t.  And there was hell to pay.

In a petty fit of political retribution, Hambrick was exiled by the Democrats to the “Bad Boy” room – the smallest office in the Legislature.

The “Bad Boy” room was previously occupied by former conservative Republican Assemblyman Ty Cobb, who was sentenced there for refusing to vote for liberal Democrat Barbara Buckley for Speaker, and by former conservative Republican Assemblyman Ed Goedhart for daring to defy then-Democrat Speaker John Oceguera.

Actually, conservatives have worn the “Bad Boy” room as a badge of honor.

Fast-forward to 2014.

Despite assistance from fellow Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval that ranged from minimal to non-existent, Republicans won the majority in the State Assembly for the first time since 1985.

More importantly, conservatives won the majority of the majority in the process.  Something that hasn’t happened since, well, ever.  And the first thing the new conservative majority did was vote moderate Assemblyman Pat Hickey off the island.

Hickey served as Minority Leader of the GOP caucus in 2013 and often treated his conservative colleagues like the proverbial red-headed stepchild.

He also gave aid and comfort to a number of moderate challengers against conservative candidates in this year’s GOP primaries.  Conservative candidates who ended up winning.  Conservative candidates with long memories.

As such, Hickey was ousted and replaced by conservative Assemblyman Ira Hansen as the next would-be Speaker.  However, one of Hickey’s moderate minions, Assemblyman Paul Anderson, defeated Hambrick in a subsequent caucus vote for the Majority Leader position.

Alas, a classic “borking” of Hansen by liberals and the media – but I repeat myself – over opinion columns Hansen had written as long as 20 years ago resulted in Hansen stepping down just 10 days later. And that resulted in a Hambrick vs. Anderson caucus rematch – only this time for the Speaker position.

With support from conservatives, led by Assemblywoman Michele Fiore and Assemblyman Jim Wheeler, Hambrick came out on top.  And thus, in two short years, will move from the doghouse to the penthouse when the 2015 Nevada Legislature convenes next year.