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Assembly District 2 GOP primary sees 2010 rematch

GOP Assemblyman John Hambrick’s bid for a fourth term is being challenged by Republican Mark Slotta, who says Hambrick is too conservative on social issues.

“I’ll plead guilty,” said Hambrick, a three-term assemblyman in District 2, which leans Republican. Last time he drew no opposition. This time he has a Republican primary opponent, but the Democrats didn’t mount a contender. Slotta also challenged Hambrick in 2010.

Hambrick has been a leader in trying to stop sex trafficking, which he counts as his most important accomplishment as a legislator. With his backing, laws strengthening penalties for human trafficking and helping victims passed.

In 2011, the Nevada Policy Research Institute ranked Hambrick 10th out of all 63 lawmakers on legislation affecting economic freedom and education reform.

Slotta said he decided to run because he objected to some of Hambrick’s positions, particularly the retired federal lawman’s unsuccessful effort to eliminate the coroner’s inquest system. Slotta called the bill “an abomination.”

On some issues, the two Republicans are in sync. Both are against the proposed business margins tax that was designed to boost public school funding. Also, the taxes that were supposed to end in 2013 but were extended at the request of Gov. Brian Sandoval should be allowed to sunset, the candidates agree.

Slotta is against lifting the property tax cap so cities could raise property taxes. Hambrick said that while he realizes the state needs more revenue, he would want to study the specifics of such a proposal.

Slotta does, however, favor changing Nevada’s constitution so that mining taxes can be increased. Hambrick does not.

Slotta is running a grass-roots campaign and walking door-to-door. He has no website, but he is on Facebook and said he is likely to fund the race primarily with money of his own and that of a few friends.

Hambrick figures he will need to raise about $75,000.

Asked to name the most pressing challenge facing the Legislature, Slotta asked if there was a list to choose from. There wasn’t. After pausing, he picked education funding, saying he supported increasing funding for education and holding teachers accountable for their performance.

Slotta wants to be an assemblyman yet said he believes in putting things on the ballot “so choices are made by the voting public.” If given the chance, he said he likely would vote for allowing gay marriage in Nevada and legalizing recreational marijuana.

“John is too conservative on social issues but close to my views on fiscal issues,” Slotta said.

Hambrick voted against medical marijuana and opposes recreational marijuana. And on gay marriage, as a staunch Catholic, he believes marriage is between a man and a woman but is open to discuss the issue.

“I’ll listen,” he said.

He’s a proponent of merit pay for teachers to improve education and said the most pressing issue is increasing state revenue, which the Assembly Ways and Means Committee member recognizes is necessary. As for how, he’s waiting to see the governor’s budget.

The winner of the primary will face A.J. Maimbourg, an Independent American Party candidate, whose chances of winning in this district are minimal.

Hambrick, known for his candor, said he asked her to file so the two Republicans wouldn’t go to the general, where Democrats might vote against him.

Contact Jane Ann Morrison at jmorrison@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0275.

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