Longtime Nevada Sen. Bill Raggio retiring

State Sen. Bill Raggio, the lion of Northern Nevada politics for half a century, jolted the state political establishment Wednesday when he said he will resign from the Legislature on Jan. 15 because of health concerns.

The Reno Republican’s announcement quickly set off a battle royal in political circles to influence the Washoe County Commission, which will appoint his successor.

Some favor a replacement who shares Raggio’s moderate philosophies, meaning someone who might vote for tax increases, while others want a more conservative pick like many of the current Senate Republicans who oppose tax increases.

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, the No. 2 ranking Republican in the Senate and a fierce opponent of tax increases, said the Republican caucus might prepare its own list of candidates for the County Commission to consider.

She said the list should not include recently defeated candidates — which would rule out Sharron Angle, who lost to Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid in the November elections.

Reno Mayor Bob Cashell, a Republican who just won re-election to a third term, has indicated he might be interested in Raggio’s seat. Cashell is a former Democratic lieutenant governor and a moderate who has worked closely with Raggio for decades.

The Legislature goes into session Feb. 7 facing $1 billion less in tax revenues than two years ago. Some legislators maintain that the revenue shortfall is really $3 billion and that a balanced budget cannot be achieved without tax increases.

Raggio, the longest-serving state senator in Nevada history, was first elected to the upper house in 1972. Earlier he spent 18 years as the Washoe County district attorney.

He explained his reasons for retiring:

"I am doing this because I don’t have the mobility to run up and down the halls. I have breathing limitations, but I don’t want to dwell on that. I feel great. I am very happy with my decision. It is time for new people to take over."

Gov. Brian Sandoval was effusive in his praise for Raggio.

"If the state of Nevada had a Mount Rushmore for public servants, Bill Raggio’s image would be etched on its face," Sandoval said in a statement. "Senator Raggio has been a friend and a mentor since I began my public career."

Raggio’s most recent public appearance was on Monday when he attended Sandoval’s inauguration in sub-freezing temperatures outside the Capitol. Sandoval’s father, Ron, had been a deputy sergeant of arms in the Senate for several years when Raggio was majority leader.

His replacement must be a Republican like Raggio and must live in his Senate district. The County Commission might name his successor during its Jan. 18 or Jan. 25 meeting.

Raggio had two years remaining in his four-year term. Under the term limits constitutional amendment, he could not have run for another term.

He insisted that his decision to retire was based entirely on health problems, not on the decision by Senate Republicans in November to replace him as minority leader.

"I wanted to continue to serve, but my mobility has not improved," Raggio said.

Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, was named minority leader after a vote in which several far more conservative Republicans were elected.

They ousted Raggio because of his endorsement of Reid in the U.S. Senate race and his support of tax increases in the 2003 and 2009 legislative sessions.

Raggio noted at the time that the public must have agreed with him because Reid won the election. He also mentioned that he had defeated Angle in a bitter campaign for his Senate seat in 2008, but she never called to congratulate him on his victory.

Reid issued a statement praising Raggio.

"Respected by both Democrats and Republicans alike, Senator Raggio has always been a fierce advocate for Nevada and his constituents throughout his long career in the Nevada state Senate," Reid said. "I thank him for the support he offered me over the years and for his work on behalf of our state. Bill is a true statesman and his voice will be sorely missed."

McGinness said he found out about Raggio’s resignation through the news media.

"I wish him the best," he said. "I have really looked forward to him providing his experience and knowledge of the system, especially during a redistricting session."

The Legislature must approve new boundaries for House of Representatives, legislative and other districts following the release of detailed 2010 Census figures in February.

Through Raggio’s leadership in the 2001 session — the last redistricting session — Republicans were able to draw boundaries for the then-new 3rd Congressional District in a way that gave Republicans a good chance to win.

In recent years, Raggio has been a strong advocate for changes in public education to improve Nevada student performance. He was the key architect of legislation that requires high school seniors to pass math, reading and other proficiency tests before they can receive a full-fledged diploma.

"We didn’t agree with him always, but he was a champion of public schools," said Lynn Warne, president of the Nevada State Education Association. "He felt providing a good education was a quality-of-life issue for Nevada. We are going to miss him."

No person in state history has served longer than Raggio’s 38 years in the Senate, including a record 10 sessions as Senate majority leader and as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He had been the Republican leader in the Senate since 1982.

"That means I am an old fart," Raggio quipped. "Nobody is irreplaceable. You will find that out."

Raggio said he would not interfere in the County Commission’s decision to appoint his replacement. But if asked, he would give commissioners names of potential replacements. He said he wants his successor to be someone who shares his political philosophy and will work with Democrats. He declined to speculate on who would be appointed.

"It is up to the commission," he said.

Four of the five Washoe County commissioners are Republicans, including former Assemblyman Dave Humke.

Besides Cashell, former Assemblyman and U.S. Attorney Greg Brower is being mentioned by sources as a possible replacement. Other possible replacements are Mike Dillon, a Reno homebuilder who is the grandson of former Rep. Barbara Vucanovich, R-Nev., and Washoe County Commissioner John Breternitz.

Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said the Senate Republican caucus is unlikely to recommend candidates who have recently lost elections, which would rule out both Angle and former Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno. Cegavske is the assistant Senate minority leader.

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, issued a statement in which he called Raggio "a Nevada hero."

"I want to thank him for his five decades of public service," Horsford said. "His commitment to education and his depth of experience will be greatly missed in the 2011 legislative session. I hope the Washoe County Commission honors his request and appoints a successor who shares Senator Raggio’s values."

Assembly Speaker-elect John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, also praised Raggio.

"(He) was sometimes a fierce opponent, but his service was distinguished by a true love of Nevada and a commitment which rose above party politics to do the right thing for our state," Oceguera said.

Sandoval called Raggio "the father figure in the Legislature for almost four decades."

"Senator Raggio and I spoke as soon as he made his announcement," Sandoval said. "I wish Bill and his wife, Dale, the very best as they begin this new phase of their lives, and I look forward to a continued friendship in the years ahead."

Raggio said he intends to continue working as a lawyer for the Jones Vargas law firm in Reno. He said he will follow what happens in the Legislature and in the Sandoval administration, and will offer advice if he is asked.

He has made no secret since the summer that he believed it would take tax increases to balance the state budget in 2011. At the time, he said state spending already had been cut to the bone and the state faced a potential $2.4 billion revenue shortfall.

"They have difficult decisions ahead," Raggio said Wednesday. "It is easy to say you are not going to do anything (with taxes), but you have to deal with reality and the need for essential services. You cannot shift the cost to somewhere else (local governments).

"It is going to be a tough session. You will see sectional battles and partisan battles. I have hope for the new governor. He has to be flexible and accommodate other peoples’ views. He cannot bind himself to a partisan issue. I am optimistic."

Review-Journal writer Ben Spillman contributed to this report. Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

See Hollywood Memorabilia for Free This Week
Looking for something free to do this week? Julien's Auctions viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. Hundreds of iconic movie and television items are on display, including designs and props from Star Wars, Marilyn Monroe's undergarments, costumes from "Superman III," "The Nutty Professor" (1963), "Roseanne" and more. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hollywood Memorabilia Up For Grabs at Las Vegas Auction
Elvis Presley's car, Marilyn Monroe's bras, Han Solo's blaster, and Jerry Lewis's "Nutty Professor" suit are just some of the items that are up for auction at Julien's Auctions at Planet Hollywood June 22 and 23. The auction's viewing room at Planet Hollywood is open to the public 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday at Planet Hollywood. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Springs Preserve Exhibit Shows Off "Nature's Ninjas"
"Nature's Ninjas" arrives at the Springs Preserve, in an exhibit and live show featuring critters that come with natural defenses, from armadillos to snakes, poison dart frogs to scorpions and tarantulas (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CrossRoads of Southern Nevada psychiatric urgent care to open in Las Vegas
Jeff Iverson, who operates the nonprofit sober living facility Freedom House, is opening a private addiction treatment center that will operate a detoxification center and transitional living for substance users trying to recover. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser gives update of officer-involved shooting
Metro Capt. Jaime Prosser provides an update about an officer-involved shooting at Radwick Drive and Owens Avenue in the northeast Las Vegas on Thursday. A robbery suspect was shot and killed. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Wayne Newton surprises burglars
Wayne Newton and his wife, Kathleen, arrived at their southeast Las Vegas home shortly before midnight on Wednesday to find two burglars inside their house. The burglars fled and were seen heading north through the property. Las Vegas police quickly set up a perimeter and launched an extensive search of the area, but the suspects were able to escape. It was unclear if the burglars got away with anything of value. Several items, under the watchful eyes of the police, were seen on the ground near the home's main driveway. Neither Newton, nor his wife, were injured. The Newtons were not available for comment.
Police Officers Turn Off Body Cameras
In four separate body camera videos from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting released Wednesday, officers in a strike team are instructed to turn their body cameras off and comply with the request.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
How long will North Korea's denuclearization take?
In Singapore, Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders asks President Donald Trump how long North Korea's denuclearization will take. White House video.
LVCVA purchase of gift cards hidden
A former LVCVA executive hid the purchase of $90,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards in records at the agency. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, said the money was for promotional events and did not disclose that it was for gift cards. Lawson also instructed Southwest employees to submit invoices without mentioning the purchases were for the cards. More than $50,000 of the cards cannot be accounted for. The convention authority is publicly funded . Lawson recently resigned.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
Coca-Cola Bottle Purse Has 9,888 Diamonds
Designer Kathrine Baumann and jeweler Aaron Shum set the Guinness World Record for most diamonds (9,888) set on a handbag. The Coca Cola bottle-shaped purse was on display at the Coca Cola Store on the Strip. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sentosa Island a pleasure resort with a pirate past
The site of Tuesday's U.S.-North Korea summit is known for theme parks and resorts. But before that, it was known as a pirate island. (Debra Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge Sandra Pomrenze's comment about girl's hair
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
East Las Vegas home damaged by fire
Clark County Fire Department crews responded to a house fire in east Las Vegas Thursday morning. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
911 call: Mom tries to get to son shot at Route 91
A woman stuck on the interstate during the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting on Oct. 1, 2017, in Las Vegas, tries to get to her son. 911 call released by Las Vegas police.
Las Vegas 911 caller reports people shot on Oct. 1
A 911 caller on Oct. 1, 2017, reports several people shot at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.
911 call from woman under stage in Las Vegas shooting
A 911 call from a woman underneath the stage at the Route 91 Harvest festival during the Oct. 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting.
LVCVA facing scandal over gift cards
LVCVA is facing a growing scandal over airline gift cards. LVCVA bought $90,000 in Southwest Airline gift cards between 2012 and 2017. Now auditors can’t account for more than $50,000 of the cards. CEO Rossi Ralenkotter and his family used $16,207 in gift cards on 56 trips. Brig Lawson, the senior director of business partnerships, was responsible for buying and distributing the cards. He recently resigned.
Siblings separated in the foster care system get a day together
St. Jude's Ranch for Children and Cowabunga Bay Cares program partnered to bring 75 siblings together for the day to play on the water slides and in the pools at the Henderson water park. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
People flee the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Las Vegas police released footage from a camera on Mandalay Bay of the Route 91 Harvest festival on Oct. 1, 2017
Aaliyah Inghram awarded medal of courage
Aaliyah Inghram, a 10-year-old girl who was shot while protecting her 18-month-old brother and 4-year-old cousin during a shooting on May 8, awarded medal of courage. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Las Vegans Pack Public Lands Open House
A crowd filled the Clark County Library conference room Tuesday afternoon where Clark County officials hold their first -- and possibly only -- public meeting on plans to open almost 39,000 acres of federal land for development just outside the Las Vegas metropolitan area. County commissioners are set to vote June 19 on a potentially controversial resolution seeking federal legislation that would set aside tens of thousands of acres for conservation while giving Nevada’s largest community more room to grow. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Police search Henderson Constable's home and office
Las Vegas police served search warrants Tuesday at Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell's home and office. The investigation was sparked by a Las Vegas Review-Journal story showing Mitchell wrote himself $70,000 in checks, used ATMs at casinos and video poker bars, and traveled to places his adult children live. All using county funds. Police refused to comment but Mitchell's attorney said he did nothing wrong.
Vegas Golden Knights fans shows his colors for community
Vegas Golden Knights superfan Lynn Groesbeck has wrapped his new truck with Knights logos and images. He loves how the Golden Knights are bringing community back to Las Vegas. People stop him on the street to take photos and share his support. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Acting Coach Daryl Morris on His Craft
Acting coach Daryl Morris, whose father Bobby was Elvis Presley's conductor in Las Vegas, discusses his craft and how he leads his own classes. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Constable wanted county funds to fight Review-Journal investigation
The Las Vegas Review-Journal asked for public records to investigate constable spending. But Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell hired outside counsel to fight the request. And he wanted the county to pay nearly $7,500 for those attorneys. The county declined. And records show the constable's office owes taxpayers $700,000. County officials said the money will be repaid over three years. Mitchell abandoned his re-election before the Review-Journal story ran.
Nevada Politics Today: Zac Moyle
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks sits down with political consultant, Zac Moyle to discuss the 2018 primary election results.
Debra Saunders reports from Singapore
Las Vegas Review-Journal White House correspondent talks about the historic summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un.
Nevada Primaries: Governor Races
Review-Journal Political reporter Colton Lochhead goes over the election night primary results for the Governor races.
Election Night: Polls Close At 7 p.m.
Review-Journal political reporter Ramona Giwargis goes over what to expect from the Nevada primaries.
Kim Jong Un visits Marina Bay Sands in Singapore
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his entourage visited the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore briefly Monday night, local time. (Video by Philip Chope)
The Right Take: Transgender regulations are radical and one-sided
Despite months of parental and student opposition, the regulations are radical and one-sided. Under the proposal, which Trustees will vote on Thursday, students get to pick their own gender identity and which locker rooms to change in.
Nevada Races Full of Women From Both Sides
It's already been a historic election season for women in politics. Record numbers of women are running for political office all over the country - including Nevada. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
The Right Take: Tax Cuts Boosted Rosen's Staffs Pay
In February, the campaign team of Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Jacky Rosen saw a pay bump thanks to the Republican tax plan.
Nevada Politics Today: Dan Rodimer
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for Senate District 8, Dan Rodimer.
Nevada Politics Today: Dan Rodimer
Nevada Politics Today host Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for Senate District 8, Dan Rodimer.
The Right Take: To fix CCSD start in Carson City
State government has created the collective bargaining laws that have put the district on the brink of financial insolvency. Here are three ways to fix that.
The Right Take: Kids claim to be concerned about budget cuts
Ryan was one of six students Wednesday supposedly upset about budget cuts. Be real. Adults — be they parents, teachers or union officials — turned these kids into human shields and media props.
Nevada Politics Today: Bryce Henderson
Nevada Politics Today video host Victor Joecks sits down with Democrat candidate for Senate District 10, Bryce Henderson.
The Right Take: Trump calls MS-13 members 'animals'
Last week, President Donald Trump hosted a summit with California law enforcement officers to discuss the dangers the state’s “sanctuary” policies. During Q&A, Fresno County sheriff Margaret Mims worried about the sanctuary law preventing her from telling federal officials that she had a MS-13 gang member in custody.
The Right Take: 3 questions Sisolak, Chris G. won't answer
Consider Democrat gubernatorial frontrunners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani. Guns and education have been major campaign themes. Yet neither candidates will provide basic information about their policies, despite my requests.
Nevada Politics Today: CD3 GOP Candidates Debate
Victor Joecks moderates a debate with the three Republican candidates for Nevada's 3rd Congressional District 3. Candidates are Danny Tarkanian, Sen. Scott Hammond and Michelle Mortensen.
Nevada Politics Today: Allison Stephens
Victor Joecks sits down with candidate for CD4, Allison Stephens.
The Right Take: Hogg is wrong about Question 1
Victor Joecks talks about the errors David Hogg made in a recent tweet.
The Right Take: Student accused teacher of kicking, yanking him
Jayden Zelaya-Ramos is a fifth-grade student at George E. Harris Elementary School. That’s where he says Jason Wright, husband of school board president Deanna Wright, kicked and yanked him in early March.
The Right Take: Trustees call for a special session
Victor Joecks talks about a special session about teacher pay raises.
The Right Take: Three things to know about CCSD's next superintendent
Victor Joecks talks about things to know about CCSD's next superintendent.
Nevada Politics Today: Craig Mueller
Las Vegas Review-Journal's Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for Attorney General, Craig Mueller and discusses his position on crime in Nevada.
The Right Take: Rosen attended fundraiser hosted by Jane Fonda
Last Friday, Rosen attended a fundraiser hosted by Jane Fonda and other Hollywood elites. Yes, that’s the same Jane Fonda that Vietnam War veterans call “Hanoi Jane” for smiling while sitting on a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.
The Right Take: Registrar has admitted to 175 mistakes
Victor Joecks talks about the Clark County Registrar’s office struggling to keep its numbers straight.
Nevada Politics Today: Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity
Review-Journal's Victor Joecks sits down with Tim Phillips, President of Americans for Prosperity.
The Right Take: Equal Pay Day sends a false message to women
Equal Pay Day was last week. Democrats spent the day spreading the falsehood that women earn 80 cents for every dollar men earn. That’s a false and destructive message to send to women.
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge
Donald Trump Calls Out James Comey After Book Details Emerge The President took to Twitter to criticize the former FBI director as information emerges from Comey’s new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty’. According to 'The New York Times', Comey describes Trump in the book as “unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values.” James Comey, A Higher Loyalty, via The New York Times A Higher Loyalty hits stores on April 17.
Las Vegas man stands with president at White House
President Donald Trump delivered remarks in the Rose Garden Thursday about how the GOP tax cut plan helped working families across the country. To his left stood Richard Kerzetski, president of Universal Plumbing & Heating Co. in Las Vegas. Debra J. Saunders/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Right Take: Superintendent has limited authority
It’s starts with money. CCSD has a lot. It has a $2.4 billion general fund. The superintendent controls almost none of it. Personnel expenses make up 87 percent of that. The rest goes to things like utilities, gas for school buses and textbooks.
Nevada Politics Today: Michelle Mortensen
Review-Journal's Victor Joecks sits down with Republican candidate for CD3, Michelle Mortensen to discuss the Nevada congressional race and DACA.
The Right Take: Liberals claim there's a 20% gender pay gap
Tuesday was Equal Pay Day, a chance for liberals to claim that women in America make only 80 cents for every dollar a male makes. They calculate this by comparing the median annual earnings of men and women working full-time in 2016.
The Right Take: Arbitrator sides with teachers union
Victor Joecks talks about how an Arbitrator's decision will impact CCSD going forward.
Nevada Politics Today: Thom Reilly interview
Victor Joecks talks to Thom Reilly about Len Jessup leaving UNLV and other topics about the school.
The Right Take: Sisolak Running Scared
Steve Sisolak couldn’t scare off Chris Giunchigliani, and now she has Sisolak running scared. They’re both seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
State lawmaker shares his views on new prison education program
Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford shared his views Friday about a prison education bill he spearheaded in the 2017 legislative session. Ford, community members and higher education officials toured the High Desert State Prison on Indian Springs on Friday where he program is being implemented. (Natalie Bruzda/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Is Easter "fake news?"
Victor Joecks talks about Easter and the historical validity of The Bible.
The Right Take: Democrats try to keep their positions secret
Victor Joecks discusses Democrats trying to keep their positions secret and barring press from events.
Early voting in the Ward 5 Las Vegas City Council race at Las Vegas City Hall
Early voting in the Ward 5 Las Vegas City Council race at Las Vegas City Hall. There are eleven candidates running in the Ward 5 special election to serve out the remaining 15 months left on former councilman Ricki Barlow's term. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas-Review Journal
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like