Republican state Senate leader Bill Raggio, 84, was ousted from the minority leader’s seat Thursday by veteran Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon.
Sen. Raggio, of Reno, had been the Republican leader in the Nevada Senate since 1982. He has always been more interested in the maneuverings of power than in standing up for the principles of limited taxation and small government, but his fatal offense was supporting borrow-and-spend Democratic U.S. Sen. Harry Reid over Republican challenger Sharron Angle in this year’s U.S. Senate race.
Sen. Raggio has a personal grudge against Ms. Angle, dating from her close, unsuccessful primary challenge against him two years ago. But in fact, Sen. Raggio has been largely responsible for the ineffectiveness and internal divisions within the GOP caucus in recent years. He repeatedly undercut and betrayed such principled members of his caucus as state Sen. Barbara Cegavske and former state Sen. Bob Beers as he again and again signed on for one tax hike or another — winning in exchange promises of … nothing much.
The Nevada Republican Party made some gains in Tuesday’s polling, but compared to the rest of the country, its advancement of Rep.-elect Joe Heck was by a painfully slim margin over a weak one-term college professor, while it was beaten hands down in the turn-out-the-vote battle in Las Vegas by the union minions of Sen. Reid.
If the Nevada Republican Party is going to succeed in drawing more popular support, it must be united, but even more importantly it must be united behind simple, clear, well-articulated and non-negotiable principles, starting with smaller government (not just a “slowed rate of growth”), lower taxes and less job-killing regulation of the private sector.
None of that was likely to happen under Sen. Raggio.
The caucus’s move makes sense. Sen. Raggio was beyond reform. Nevadans will now anxiously watch to see if that’s equally true of his successors.