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Fiore jumps into CD-3 race, giving up Assembly

I had my doubts, but on Wednesday, Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, R-Las Vegas, dispelled them, officially filing to run for Congress in the 3rd District.

Fiore assured me she was not going to change her mind, withdraw and file for re-election, which is her right all the way through the close of filing on March 18. She could even withdraw her candidacy all the way until March 29, but would be unable to file for another office.

But if Fiore’s fiery rhetoric is any guide, she’s committed to the race for Congress. (She lost a similar bid in Congressional District 1 in 2010.) And, if you’ll pardon the pun, she’s set her sights on state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson. She didn’t mention any Democratic rivals in her remarks after filing, but she repeatedly targeted Roberson as “a guy who raised taxes who shouldn’t have.”

“I fight for our people, period,” Fiore told a group of reporters after filing her paperwork. “We need fighters in [Washington] D.C. that stand up for the people, who aren’t afraid to ruffle their own [party members’] feathers.”

Fiore said Roberson has a “wonderful record to run against,” centered primarily on the creation of the commerce tax on business, the first such levy in state history. Not only did Fiore insist that Roberson was not a conservative, she hinted that incumbent Rep. Joe Heck wasn’t, either.

“Heck and I are a bit different,” she said. “Our policies will differ.” (That’s funny; Sharron Angle said the same thing on Tuesday!)

Fiore said she was frustrated by her time in the Legislature, where she’s served in the minority (2013) and the majority (2015), but said that was not uncommon for her. “I’m always frustrated. My frustration is my biggest motivator. And my anger is my motivator,” she said.

That anger is well-documented. Fiore became known in 2015 for her outbursts on the floor (once telling fellow Republican Chris Edwards to “sit your ass down”) and for her forced apologies thereafter. And she’s known for waging battles especially on Second Amendment issues, although her key piece of legislation — a bill to allow carrying of firearms on college campuses — has been repeatedly defeated.

Asked to name her top three legislative accomplishments, Fiore cited a bill to allow terminally ill people to try experimental drugs, a bill that enjoyed the support of a bipartisan coalition of 17 lawmakers in both houses; and a bill to prohibit disciplining children for pretending to use regular objects as guns in school. (This bill, known as the Pop-Tart bill after a schoolchild chewed a confection into the shape of a firearm and was later disciplined under “zero-tolerance” policies.) Unfortunately, Fiore was not a primary or secondary co-sponsor of the “Pop-Tart” bill that ultimately made it to the governor’s desk, although she did vote for it on the floor.

The third accomplishment? Fiore was stumped but said she had many bills that passed. (In the 2015 session, Fiore was listed as primary sponsor or co-sponsor of 58 total bills, 15 of which passed the Legislature, a success rate of roughly 26 percent.)

But if you expected Fiore to become more politic now that she’s seeking higher office, forget it. She defended a 2015 bill that would have limited transgender students’ use of school bathrooms based on gender expression. And she maintained that ranchers who occupied the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Ore., were “political prisoners,” and she criticized the Barack Obama administration for releasing terrorists while arresting ranchers over public lands protests.

“These are political prisoners, period,” she said. “The war on rurals is going to end” if she’s elected, she added.

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