Assemblyman faces firestorm for remarks about low minority voter turnout

Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey, R-Reno, got a taste of being a whipping boy in the national media last week when he said the 2014 election will be “great” for Nevada Republicans because a lot of minorities and young people, who tend to vote Democrat, don’t vote in nonpresidential elections.

While true, his remarks were considered insensitive and he was criticized by fellow Republicans Sen. Dean Heller and state Assemblywoman Michele Fiore. The far right side of Hickey’s Assembly Republican Caucus would like nothing better than to remove Hickey as their leader, but a move to kick him out failed in June.

Three years ago, another Nevada politician had to apologize for insensitive comments made in 2006. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Las Vegas, apologized to President Barack Obama when reports of his comments hit the media.

At the time, Reid had recommended a little-known Illinois senator run for president in 2008. He was quoted in “Game Change” as saying privately that Obama could win because he was a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”


It appears now that Gov. Brian Sandoval and Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation Director Frank Woodbeck are getting tough about fixing problems that have prevented some unemployment claimants from receiving their checks for weeks.

Sandoval on Thursday issued a statement that expressed sympathy to people for the delays and mentioned that Woodbeck’s department is working hard to fix any problems caused by the installation of a new $38 million computer system.

Woodbeck responded a couple of hours later by saying staff members at the Employment Security Division call center would work Saturday. He also pointed out that some of the problems are caused by claimants jamming the call center when they can file online and avoid the busy signal. He noted it takes 75 minutes of waiting to process the average claim by phone.

The Review-Journal has been notifying the governor’s office and Woodbeck of complaints it receives from claimants. Thursday, a Las Vegas man told about waiting 2½ hours on the phone and never reaching an unemployment staff member. He said he had been trying for six weeks to get his claim resolved.

Less than an hour later, the man emailed back that his problem was resolved by the state.


If a recent missive from Harry Reid is to be believed, Sharron Angle, his Republican tea party opponent in his successful 2010 U.S. Senate re-election bid, just might be a moderate member of the GOP after all.

Reid’s characterization of his former opponent emerged in a fundraising pitch for Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate in the Virginia governor’s race.

McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic Party and confidant of President Bill Clinton, is facing Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia attorney general, to succeed term-limited GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell.

In his email soliciting contributions for McAuliffe ahead of the Nov. 5 election, Reid said Cuccinelli “makes my opponent from 2010 look like a moderate.”

Either the tea party is growing even more conservative or Reid’s view of Angle has changed since the 2010 race. Back then Reid ran TV ads calling Angle “too extreme.”

“This race is bigger than one state,” Reid said of the Virginia governor’s race. “This race is about the tea party gaining a foothold in states across the country.”

Is Angle the new face of a moderate Nevada Republican Party?

In politics, anything can happen.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow him on Twitter @seanw801. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com, or 775-687-3901.