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Las Vegas Assemblyman Hambrick chosen speaker designate

CARSON CITY — Las Vegas Assemblyman John Hambrick has been picked as speaker designate by the 25-member GOP caucus.

Hambrick was selected at a meeting of the caucus in Las Vegas, made necessary after the party’s first choice, Sparks Assemblyman Ira Hansen, stepped down from the appointment under pressure for controversial remarks he made about race as a columnist for a Sparks newspaper.

Hambrick was first elected to the Assembly in 2008.

The newly selected majority leader is Michele Fiore of Las Vegas.

Republicans took control of the Assembly for the first time since 1985 in a sweeping win in the Nov. 4 election, picking up 10 new seats, including the ouster of six Democratic incumbents.

“Nevadans elected us to represent them in our Legislature, and it’s important that we also represent the diversity of Nevada in our Assembly leadership,” Hambrick said in a statement after the meeting. “We look forward to working with Governor Sandoval and our peers in the Nevada Senate to continue to move Nevada forward.”

Fiore said: “This is a great day for Nevada as we select our Assembly leadership for the upcoming session. There are people who would like us to believe that elected officials look and act only one way; however, our leaders give voice to all Nevadans and will be strong representatives of the people in our Legislature.”

The Assembly GOP announcement made it clear that the caucus wants to be inclusive, noting that Fiore is the first GOP woman to serve as majority leader.

The announcement from the caucus also noted that newly elected Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, also from Las Vegas, is the first Latina Republican to be elected to the Assembly. She was named as assistant majority whip for the Southern region of the state.

Hansen, who stepped down as speaker designate on Nov. 23 after Sandoval asked him to withdraw, was named assistant majority leader.

Jim Wheeler of Minden was named majority whip.

The new leadership means that Paul Anderson of Las Vegas, named majority leader by Hansen, will no longer serve in that position.

The names of committee chairs were not immediately released by the caucus.

Hambrick is considered to be a conservative member of the caucus but one who will be willing to work with Sandoval and the new GOP Senate majority.

Hambrick served in federal law enforcement for nearly three decades before his retirement.

He served on the Presidential Protection Detail of the U.S. Secret Service and spent six years as an agent for the Immigration and Naturalization service, eventually heading the agency’s criminal prosecutions for the Washington, DC, Field Office.

The caucus was roiled after a newspaper report detailed Hansen’s comments in his many years as a columnist for the Sparks Tribune.

The Reno-Sparks NAACP asked the Nevada State Assembly Republican Caucus to reconsider its election of Hansen as speaker because of what the group called a long history of making questionable comments.

Hansen did step down from the position, but said it was his opposition to a planned $1 billion tax hike being prepared by Sandoval and others that lead to his downfall as speaker designate, not his comments as a columnist.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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