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Drive to recall Nevada Assembly Speaker Hambrick fails

The effort to recall Assembly Speaker John Hambrick has failed, with organizers only gathering 270 of the more than 4,000 signatures needed.

To qualify and get a recall election on the ballot, the effort would have needed 4,116 signatures from registered voters within the Republican assemblyman’s Las Vegas district, according to the Nevada secretary of state’s office. That office received the signatures this week.

The recall effort was launched Feb. 13 after anti-tax organizers, spurred by conservative blogger Chuck Muth, raised concerns about Hambrick’s media statements expressing an openness to working with moderate Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval on legislation that would raise business license fees.

While Hambrick didn’t cast any votes on the matter, the organizers say he strayed from a signed pledge to not support tax increases and should have opposed the $1.1 billion tax proposal.

The organizers had the lofty but ultimately unrealistic goal of gathering enough signatures and forcing a recall election before the 2015 legislative session ends in June. Hambrick, a retired federal law enforcement officer, has had his seat in Assembly District 2 since 2008.

By law, a recall petition needs signatures from at least 25 percent of registered voters who cast ballots in the last election. Muth said that proved to be a tough roadblock because it was more difficult to target qualified people.

“You can’t just stand in front of a grocery store or the DMV and ask: Are you a registered voter?” Muth said.

By mid-March, the group realized the effort wouldn’t succeed, but quietly folded without telling the public, including Hambrick.

“We didn’t say anything intentionally to anyone because we already knew Hambrick’s people were spending money,” Muth said. “If they want to spend money on mailers and robocalls — let them spend his money.”

Hambrick, who couldn’t be reached for comment, got support after the recall effort launched.

The Nevada Jobs Coalition PAC, which gets much of its money from Sandoval’s New Nevada PAC, put out a mailer to residents of his district.

“Promises made,” the mailer says, without mentioning the recall effort. “Promises kept.”

AJ Maimbourg, a district resident who led the push, said the group still made its point about Hambrick, despite its failure.

“We wanted them to still be fearful and we reached a lot of people,” Maimbourg said.

Maimbourg ran as an Independent American Party candidate against Hambrick in the 2014 election, but lost.

The recall effort followed a leadership struggle between the conservative and moderate factions of the Assembly GOP caucus that emerged after Republicans gained control of both legislative chambers and swept the state constitutional officer races in the Nov. 4 election.

Contact Ben Botkin at bbotkin@reviewjournal.com or 702-405-9781. Find him on Twitter: @BenBotkin1.

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