Bill Raggio: A great Nevadan

To say that Bill Raggio was a larger-than-life figure in Nevada politics does not do him justice.

Mr. Raggio, who died Thursday at the age of 85, was the longest-serving state senator in Nevada history. First elected in 1972, the Reno Republican became his party’s leader in the upper house from 1977 to 2009 before opting to retire prior to the 2011 session.

Mr. Raggio — who also served for more than a decade as Washoe County district attorney — was the consummate gentleman, always striving to remain above the partisan bickering that characterizes much of today’s political debate. He rejected rigid political dogma and reveled in the give and take of the process, the horse trading and logrolling.

His willingness to deal earned him criticism from some fiscal conservatives, who often clashed with him over his tendency to support tax hikes at the expense of spending restraint. But rest assured, Mr. Raggio never cast a vote he didn’t think was in the best interests of the Silver State.

And as Clark County and Las Vegas began to boom during his long tenure, Mr. Raggio remained an unabashed advocate for Northern Nevada interests, working tirelessly to ensure the region wasn’t slighted when the state’s power base shifted south.

His word was his bond. The respect with which he was received on both sides of the aisle pays testament to his skill and character as perhaps the most prominent and powerful politician in the state’s history.

“I have said before that if there was a Mount Rushmore of Nevada politics,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said Friday, “Bill Raggio’s image would forever be carved there.”

The state has lost a great man.

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