Nevada GOP Sends Legislative Icon Packing

Nevada's political landscape is facing major upheaval after Republicans on Thursday (Nov. 4) stripped Bill Raggio of the party leadership post in the state Senate he has held for nearly three decades. Raggio, it is often said, has been on the job so long  - and has been so influential on both sides of the aisle - that he can wield more power than the governor.

Senate Republicans apparently sacked the 84-year-old Raggio for the same reason that brought him power in the first place, according to the Las Vegas Sun : his willingness to work across party lines. They are angry over his support for Democrat Harry Reid in this week's crucial U.S. Senate election against Tea Party-backed Republican Sharron Angle and, according to the Sun , disapprove of tax increases that Raggio helped negotiate with Democrats. Senator Mike McGuinness will take over for Raggio as the Senate GOP leader and wants the chamber to become "a stronger beachhead against taxes," as the Sun put it.

Stateline published  an in-depth profile of Raggio in March. The longest-serving state senator in Nevada history, he is term-limited and will have to leave the Legislature in two years.

The intra-party purge comes just days after Brian Sandoval, a former federal judge, won the governorship on a strict platform of not raising taxes. Sandoval, as Stateline reported Thursday (November 4), is one of 12 new governors who have vowed not to raise taxes despite facing massive budget difficulties in the immediate future. 

Sandoval's election and the removal of Raggio suggest that Nevada Republicans are serious about trying to balance the budget without new taxes next year. The state faces a two-year shortfall that could be as much as $3 billion, or about half of the state's overall spending.

Democrats, for their part, appear to be strengthening their own resolve leading up to the legislative session, vowing, as the Sun notes , to
put the onus on Sandoval for balancing the budget. Democrats, the Sun says, are "tired of being the white knights called to 'save' K-12, public safety and health and human services from budget cuts - and taking the hits for passing tax increases to preserve those services."



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