I grieve for the Republican Party which has lately looked like a circular firing squad.
Recently, Assembly Minority Leader Pat Hickey told a radio talk show host that GOP prospects for 2014 look good because, with no presidential race, young and minority voters are less apt to go to the polls. That was immediately twisted by Democrats to imply that Republicans are planning to suppress the minority vote.
Regrettably, GOP Governor Sandoval and GOP Senator Heller chimed in with Democrats to condemn the statement (later found to be 100 percent correct by the Reno Gazette Journal’s fact checker).
Shortly after that, Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R- Gardnerville) got trapped with this “gotcha” question: “If your constituents wanted you to vote to reestablish slavery, what would you do?”
Wheeler said he would vote his constituents’ wishes. Again, the governor and Senator Heller took to the media to publicly excoriate Wheeler for his remarks.
On Halloween, Washoe County GOP Chair Tom Taber was chairing a conservative panel on Fox KTFT Radio 99.1 in a discussion ranging from inflation to employment and general economic topics.
One of the panelists, a college teacher, remarked on changes over the last 50 years in participation by women in the work force. That got picked up by liberal Las Vegas blogger Jon Ralston who labeled it the “caveman panel.” Ralston’s inaccurate characterization drew still another criticism from Gov. Sandoval and Sen. Heller.
Worse, Sandoval, who had committed to be keynote speaker at a Washoe County GOP fundraiser, abruptly withdrew from the commitment even though announcements had been printed and mailed.
I have read the entire transcript of the KTFT broadcast and found it perfectly innocent. No one was advocating a return to the kitchen by women, merely remarking on a trend that is already a fait accompli.
I think the governor, as well as “me too” Heller, have hair triggers that cause them to criticize fellow Republicans before they investigate.
That, of course, prolongs the embarrassment because of the inevitable spate of letters to editors from still more people who have more opinions than common sense.
And the hypocrisy is blatant. A decade or so ago, as candidate for attorney general, Sandoval interviewed with the editorial staff of the Las Vegas Review Journal and was asked whether he would enforce a legislative act requiring Jews to wear yellow stars.
He responded that he would (causing much public comment). Yet when Jim Wheeler gets caught in a “gotcha” question, he dumped on him.
Heller is another quandary. Highly suspect by Tahoe area voters because as TRPA chair he pushed the hated Shorezone Ordinance; then as congressman representing conservative Northern Nevada he tilted to the right. Now as senator he is tilting to the center.
However this stuff is not unique to the Republican Party. Just last week lifetime Democrat, Reno lawyer and legislative analyst Luke Busby authored a column in the Reno Gazette Journal headlined: “Why I’m joining the Nevada GOP.” In his experience with the Nevada Legislature Busby said: “I found that Democrats … with good ideas are drowned out and passed over by careerists who are highly susceptible to large campaign contributions by powerful interests.”
Republicans, he continued, “heard me out in a fair manner, would ask engaged questions and were open to changing their minds. With few exceptions Republicans are much more sophisticated, independent and capable than their Democratic counterparts.”
So there it is. You win some and you lose some. But whatever the anxieties of the moment, Republicans will always win if they observe Ronald Reagan’s eleventh commandment: “Thou shall not speak ill of any other Republican.”
Jim Clark is president of Republican Advocates, and has served on the Washoe County and Nevada state GOP Central Committees. He can be reached at email@example.com.