It was bad enough that Senate Minority Leader-in-Waiting Michael Roberson did a complete 180, broke his Taxpayer Protection Pledge and announced he was warmly embracing Gov. Brian Sandoval’s plan to re-impose that $620 million tax hike on Nevadans and Nevada businesses next year.
And it’s bad enough that he’s recruited and endorsed a host of moderate GOP state senate candidates this year who refuse to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge that Mitt Romney, Sen. Dean Heller, Rep. Joe Heck and Rep. Mark Amodei have signed – or promise not to vote to re-impose the Sandoval-Roberson sunsets in the next legislative session.
But not content with painting his own caucus with pale pastels, the good senator is now reaching into Douglas County in northern Nevada to lend aid and comfort to a tax-hiking, moderate state assemblyman, as well.
According to an email I was forwarded a couple days ago, Roberson will be hosting “a fundraising reception to help re-elect Assemblyman Kelly Kite” on May 2. Isn’t that special?
The freshman Kite chalked up a seriously lame 60% Citizen Outreach rating last session, and a 53% rating from the Nevada Policy Research Institute. He refused, and continues to refuse, to sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Hoted for the $620 million tax hike last year and refuses to promise not to do it again next year.
And in one of the most conservative and Republican districts in the state!
Fortunately, Kite is being challenged by a credible and viable candidate by the name of Jim Wheeler – who has already signed the Tax Pledge and promises NOT to vote to re-impose the Sandoval-Roberson sunsets if elected. Which makes it gut-check time for Douglas County Republicans.
That said, Roberson’s move on Kite’s behalf has also raises some additional questions/concerns:
1.) With so much on the line for Senate Republicans this year – who only need to pick-up one net seat to gain the majority – why is Roberson playing in assembly races where Republicans have ZERO chance of gaining the majority this year? Power grab or mission creep?
2.) Why is Sen. Roberson horsing around in an assembly district that is represented by one of his senate colleagues, Sen. James Settelmeyer? To the best of my knowledge, Sen. Settelmeyer has NOT taken sides in the Kite-Wheeler race. So if the district’s own state senator isn’t getting involved in this primary, why is a Las Vegas senator doing so?
To answer that second question – and this is pure speculation by a member of the Douglas County Republican Central Committee with whom I communicated this week – it’s thought that Sen. Settelmeyer might be interested in challenging Sen. Roberson for the GOP leadership position. As such, Roberson’s move is being viewed by some as an effort to position the moderate Kite to challenge the conservative Settelmeyer himself in a Republican primary in 2014.
Ah, what a tangled web.
In any event, Sen. Roberson’s conversion as a born-again tax hiker has certainly won him the admiration and adulation of the Carson City establishment and professional lobbying corps. However, his efforts to move the Republican Party further towards the middle than it already is sure aren’t winning over the party’s conservative-libertarian-tea party base.
Question is: Will he pay a price? Or will he be able to successfully run his own show while blowing off the GOP’s grassroots volunteers and “worker bees” the way Bill Raggio used to do? Stay tuned, Bat fans…