There’s a battle brewing within the Nevada Republican Party over whether to take a hard line against tax increases. Many GOP elected officials take a pragmatic line, while some activists would prefer an absolute "no new taxes" stance.
Anti-tax activist Chuck Muth isn’t even a Republican — he left the party a couple of years ago because it wasn’t conservative enough for him — but he has continued to push the GOP in a fiscally pure direction. Today, he’s penned a screed against Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert, R-Reno, and others who voted today to hike the hotel room tax, something voters approved in November and Gov. Jim Gibbons, another supposedly anti-tax Republican, proposed in his budget.
"The good Lord did not create Republicans to vote for higher taxes," Muth writes. "That’s why he created Democrats. And Republican primaries!"
Muth apparently isn’t the only one who feels this way. Within an hour of his essay being e-mailed, a press release landed with the headline, "Tax-Hiking Republican Earns Early Primary Challenge."
A Las Vegas film producer named Ronda Kennedy says she plans to run against Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, in 2010, citing his support for the room tax hike and his co-sponsorship of a bill to name an official state insect among her reasons.
It’s a fair guess that Muth, who’s also a strategist and consultant, had a hand in her candidacy. Not only is she on the same philosophical page, the press release is on the same template Muth sometimes uses.
A Republican primary could create an opening for Democrats in Stewart’s Assembly District 22. It’s one of many districts that flipped in voter registration in the Democratic surge last year. There are now 245 more Democrats than Republicans in the district, which sprawls to encompass outlying areas in southern Clark County.
Here’s the text of Muth’s diatribe and Kennedy’s press release.
"Maybe" Mabey II: Garn’s Revenge
By Chuck Muth
OK, the first major test of Assembly Minority Leader Heidi Gansert’s (R-Reno) leadership and fiscal conservative bona fides is now behind us.
There isn’t a curve big enough to reach a passing grade on this one.
As events unfolded this morning, "Leader" Gansert didn’t urge her Republican caucus members to vote against IP-1, the massive job-killing, tourism-retarding room tax increase forced upon the Legislature by the teachers union.
Not only didn’t Gansert urge her troops to vote against this massive tax hike, she didn’t even vote against it herself.
And not only didn’t she urge her troops to vote against this massive tax hike, or vote against it herself, she voted FOR it.
And not only did she vote enthusiastically for this massive tax increase, I’m told she actively urged her fellow GOP caucus members to vote for it, as well.
And adding insult to injury, not only did she urge a "YEA" vote for this massive tax hike in private, she actually spoke in FAVOR of it on the Assembly floor during debate on the bill.
Despite the fact that not a single Republican vote was needed to pass this massive tax hike.
It’s as if Garn "Maybe" Mabey (the wishy-washy, rubber-stamping, go-along-to-get-along former GOP Minority Leader whom Gansert deposed after the last session of the Legislature) never left.
The more things change.
The good Assembly Republicans who voted against this massively bad massive tax hike were Ed Goedhart, Ty Cobb, James Settelmeyer, John Hambrick, Don Gustavson, Dick McArthur and Chad Christensen.
Coincidentally (not!), the same seven Republicans who refused to vote for Democrat Assemblywoman Barbara Buckley for Speaker back in December.
Coincidentally (not!), six of the seven have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
And coincidentally (not!), five of the seven are members of the newly-formed conservative Nevada Republican Study Committee.
The bad Assembly Republicans who voted with Gansert and in favor of this massive tax hike were Assistant Minority Leader Lynn "The Bug Man" Stewart, John Carpenter, Pete Goicoechea, Tom Grady, Melissa Woodbury and Joe Hardy.
Not surprisingly, none of the bad Republicans have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. And none are members of the conservative Republican Study Committee. And every one of them voted for Democrat Barbara Buckley for Speaker last December.
And Hardy, you may recall, is also the lone remaining Assembly Republican who voted for the Mother of All Nevada Tax Hikes back in 2003.
The good Lord did not create Republicans to vote for higher taxes. That’s why he created Democrats.
And Republican primaries!
Kennedy Announces GOP Primary Challenge to Tax-Hiking Assemblyman Lynn Stewart
(Las Vegas, Nevada) – In the aftermath of today’s vote by Republican Assistant Minority Leader Lynn Stewart in favor of what is believed to be the third largest tax increase in Nevada’s history, Ronda Kennedy announced today her decision to mount a GOP primary challenge to Mr. Stewart next year.
"These are trying times," Kennedy said, "and in these times the people are looking to their elected leaders to guide them out of the financial hole we are in without making the hole bigger and deeper. After hearing that Mr. Stewart voted yes for the room tax hike, which will only do further damage to our already fragile tourist-based economy, I made the final decision to run and challenge him in the 2010 Republican primary.
Kennedy cited Stewart’s lack of legislative achievement, failure to champion fiscally conservative bills of substance, his feel-good legislation which nonetheless infringes upon the First Amendment, his complete lack of real-life experience in the business world and private sector, and his focus on frivolous legislation – especially his co-sponsorship of a bill to name an official state insect – among her reasons for the challenge.
"A bug bill, Lynn?" Kennedy asks. "Come on. Enough is enough."
Kennedy is a 36-year-old film producer from Wisconsin who has lived in Las Vegas for the last six years. She is married with three children and will make education reform and spending control her top issues if elected.
"And yes," Kennedy concluded, "I absolutely will be signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge."