weather icon Clear

Recall efforts proper under Nevada’s constitution

Nevada Democrats are in an uproar over Nevada Republicans exercising their constitutional rights.

At issue are the recall campaigns launched last week against state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson, and state Sen. Patricia Farley, I-Las Vegas. Farley, who won election in 2014 as a Republican, now caucuses with Democrats. Signers of the “notice of attempt to recall” forms include former Republican Assemblyman Steve Silberkraus and board members from the free-market Keystone Corporation.

Democrats and associated special interest groups immediately cued up the outrage machine.

“This is an abuse of the recall process by individuals who are unfortunately still bitter about the results of the last election,” tweeted Woodhouse.

“[T]he recall process should be reserved for officeholders who have violated the public trust,” sniffled the Nevada State Education Association in a statement.

But even a casual reading of the Nevada Constitution shows this effort isn’t misusing the recall provision. Article 2, Section 9 reads, “Every public officer in the State of Nevada is subject … to recall from office by the registered voters of the … district … which he represents.” This broad power is in contrast to the U.S. Constitution’s impeachment provision, which is restricted to “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Nevada’s only requirement to start a recall is that petitioners submit a 200-word description of why they’re demanding the recall.

While the ability to begin a recall is broad, the process of securing one is daunting. Petitioners have just 90 days to obtain signatures from 25 percent of the people who actually voted in the targeted politician’s last election. This is much tougher logistically than gathering signatures for an initiative, which any registered voter can sign. Even if organizers get enough signatures, they must still win an election, which would be held within 30 days of submission and verification of signatures.

Because the recalls target two women, Democrats are playing the gender card.

“NV GOP has nothing better to do than harass female Senators. Decent republicans (sic) reclaim your party,” tweeted Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks.

Give me a break. This is about party, not gender. This is especially obvious because Republicans recruited Farley into politics and helped her win election.

Without the recalls, Republicans can’t win a majority in the state Senate, even if they sweep next fall’s competitive Senate races. That would give them 10 of 21 seats. Successfully recalling either Woodhouse or Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas — both represent districts that are winnable for either party, and both senators’ terms end in 2020 — changes that. While Cannizzaro isn’t facing a recall yet, it’d be a logical next step.

This is the real reason Democrats are upset and resorting to hyperventilating statements and laughable smears. They don’t want to lose their political power and their dreams of making Nevada a sanctuary state, raising property taxes and renaming McCarran International Airport after Harry Reid.

If Democrats don’t like the broad recall ability provided to Nevada voters, they can try to change it. Until then, they should stop pretending that it’s offensive for someone to exercise a power enshrined in the constitution.

If Republicans were attacking Democrats for exercising their rights, there’d be no end to the screeching about Republicans’ “voter suppression” efforts.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Listen to him discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.