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Heat persists for Nevada assemblyman over slavery remark

Largely unsaid in all the discussion about Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler’s statement that he would vote for slavery if that is what his constituents wanted was the sheer folly of even flippantly mentioning legalizing slavery.

“There was no filter, no moral standard by Wheeler,” said Fred Lokken, a Web college and political science professor at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno. “We want elected officials who do the right thing when they are convinced no one is looking.”

Wheeler, R-Gardnerville, was addressing a friendly group, the Storey County Republican Central Committee, in August when out of left field he gave slavery as an example of something he would support if his constituents wanted it. He subsequently apologized and insisted he never would vote for slavery. But that’s not what he told his GOP audience.

His statements were recorded and subsequently posted on YouTube, although they have since been removed.

Lokken said former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney also made classless comments in the summer when he told a friendly group that 47 percent of voters basically were people who lived off government. Unknown to him, his statements also were recorded and released publicly.

During the Northern Nevada meeting, Wheeler also talked about voting for unconstitutional bills if that’s what his constituents wanted, and took a shot at Las Vegas by saying not even California would want Las Vegas. After his comments, the audience clapped.

The state Democratic Party ultimately released the YouTube video without much comment. Lokken said the party was wise to let Wheeler’s statements stand on their own lack of merit. Republican elected officials followed with a chorus of condemnation of Wheeler. Both the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Review-Journal have called for his resignation.

Wheeler, however, lives in a conservative district that hasn’t elected any Democrat since 1982. Two short stories, one on page 3, the other on page 2, about Wheeler’s statement and apology appeared in the Nevada Appeal, a regional daily newspaper based in Carson City.

In his hometown Record-Courier in Gardnerville, the story appeared on page 1, but it emphasized Wheeler’s view that the news media was trying to make him seem like a racist. In an editorial, the newspaper said they understood his dedication to listen to his constituents, “but we also expect him to think about what he’s voting for or against.”

It was the Republican Party and President Abraham Lincoln who led the move to prohibit slavery. About 625,000 Americans died in the Civil War. That’s a figure worth thinking about.


We now officially have a Constitution Party of Nevada. The secretary of state’s office announced Wednesday that the party — which supports limited government — had filed the necessary paperwork and organized to become a minor party in Nevada.

Earlier the party had declared it already had been approved as a party. But at that point, it had filed paperwork only to become a nonprofit Nevada corporation.

In its bylaws, the Constitution Party gives as its principles: “Government is a dangerous servant and fearful master. Deriving its limited, just power from the Constitution written under the consent of the governed as free men. Its sole purpose is the protection and security of the lives, liberties and properties of all individuals within its jurisdiction.”

In an earlier interview with Otilia Krapff, the party’s executive director, she said the party does not emphasize social issues such as abortion.

To put candidates on the ballot next year, the party must collect more than 10,000 signatures from Nevadans. Its president is Carlos Cardoso; vice president, Thomas Valleskey; secretary, Bonnie Klud; and treasurer, Janice Wilson. All are from Washoe County.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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