CARSON CITY — Pat Hickey of Reno was selected Thursday by his fellow party members as the leader of the Republican caucus in the Assembly.
In this position, Hickey, 61, will recruit candidates and raise money for Republicans competing for Assembly seats in November’s election.
Democrats hold a 26-16 membership advantage, and Republicans have not had a clear majority in the Assembly since 1985.
But Hickey, who operates a painting company, said party members are "quite excited" about their chances of picking up some seats, but he would not forecast Republicans becoming the majority party.
"We see ourselves expanding our caucus room and having realistic prospects of getting into the high teens or low twenties (in the number of members)," he said.
Hickey said he was elected unanimously during a caucus meeting in Las Vegas.
Assemblyman John Hambrick of Las Vegas had wanted to become leader, but Hickey said that "John graciously rescinded his attempt."
Hickey won his second term in the Assembly in 2010 — 14 years after he last served in the lower house. He had left the Legislature to devote more time to his business and family: his wife, Shin, and his four children, now all adults.
A former journalist, he is the author of "Tahoe Boy," a humorous autobiography about his years as a spokesman and member of the Unification Church.
Last week, Assembly Democrats elected Assembly Majority Leader Marcus Conklin, D-Las Vegas, as their caucus leader.
Hickey said he hopes for amicable relations between the parties during the next session in 2013.
"There are Republicans like myself who felt spending for K-12 and higher education should be a priority and increased once reforms were adopted, and there are business-minded Democrats," Hickey said. "Between these two groups, we can find common ground if the leaders want it."
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