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Opinion: What will the Nevada Assembly look like after Tuesday?

By ThisIsReno

By Chuck Muth

There’s a pro-Republican tide sweeping the nation, and if it lifts the GOP’s boat here, the 2011 legislative session could be a lot better for Nevada’s citizens and taxpayers. Unless Nevada Republicans blow it.

Uh-oh.

The GOP should pick up a net of at least four seats in the state Assembly, and possibly as many as 8 (which would give them the majority – not that they’d know what to do with it).

Incumbent Assembly Republicans Likely Returning – 7. Pete Goicoechea, Lynn Stewart, Melissa Woodbury, Tom Grady, Ed Goedhart, John Hambrick, Richard McArthur.

Incumbent Assembly GOP Seats They Should Hold – 7. John Ellison (AD33), Scott Hammond (AD 13), Randy Kirner (AD 26), Pat Hickey (AD 25), Ira Hansen/Jodi Stephens (AD 32), Crescent Hardy (AD 20), Kelly Kite (AD 39).

Democrat Assembly Seats They Should Pick Up – 4. Tim Williams (AD 5), Dan Hill (AD 29), Pete Livermore (AD 40), Mark Sherwood (AD 21).

Democrat Assembly Seats They Could Pick Up if the “Wave” is Big Enough – 4. Randi Thompson (AD 31), Bob Irwin (AD 16), Jan Porter (AD 41), Tyler Andrews (AD 10).

Worst case scenario is they lose AD 13 and pick up AD 40, which would keep Republicans in the super-minority with a total of 14 seats. But that’s highly unlikely. The GOP absolutely should pick up enough seats to deny the Democrats a veto-proof majority next year – but there’s a catch (isn’t there always?).

You see, even if Republicans pick up, say, a net of four seats in the Assembly – giving them a total of 18 – there’d still be at least a half-dozen go-along-to-get-along, wishy-washy Republicans who would side with Democrats to pass a tax hike or overturn a Gov. Sandoval veto (yeah, I’m avoiding the Christmas rush and starting to call him Governor now rather than wait for Tuesday).

Recall that seven Republicans in the Assembly voted for that $292 million tax hike on tourists last year – including Goicoechea, Stewart, Grady and Woodbury – and another, Carpenter, actually voted for the $800 million tax hike later at the end of the session (but he did have a good excuse; he said God told him to raise taxes).

So from painful experience and history, we know that it’s not enough to just elect more Republicans; you need to elect better ones, as well. Alas, too little, too late this cycle.

Perhaps taxpayers’ only hope is that Republicans in the Assembly will be smart enough to replace interim-Minority Leader Goicoechea with a new caucus chief who understands the necessity of being an opposition party, not a minority party, which will fight for its principled, philosophical beliefs instead of begging for legislative table scraps while singing Kumbaya with the Democrats.

We’re doomed.

Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at [email protected].

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