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November 26, 2014

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Bill Raggio calls his ouster a ‘pyrrhic victory’ for GOP agitators

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Bill Raggio

In a reflection of what they say is the mood of their constituents, Senate Republicans purged Sen. Bill Raggio, R-Reno, from their leadership in a unanimous vote today.

Sen. Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, stepped in as leader, pursuing the post after constituents in Pahrump and in Churchill County asked him to do something about Raggio’s support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid instead of Republican Sharron Angle.

Raggio said he withdrew his name from consideration because he didn’t want to create discord in the caucus.

“There are a lot of agitators like Chuck Muth in the world and Tea Partiers who think I committed a mortal sin because I didn’t support Angle,” he said. “I didn’t want that to be part of the process.”

Raggio appeared calm and at peace with the decision in his first press interview with the Las Vegas Sun in the minutes following the caucus vote. His phone ringing off the hook, he sought to reassure friends that he’s not upset with the decision.

“This is not a swan song,” he said.

But Raggio, who has long fought for what he describes as a pragmatic budget approach that doesn’t starve the state of revenue needed to fund essential services, also is stepping out of what are expected to be intense and difficult budget negotiations.

He resigned from the Senate Finance Committee, saying he doesn’t want a hand in what his caucus will attempt to do.

“They have their own budget objectives and I don’t want to be an impediment to those,” he said. “I want them to have the leeway to deal with the budget in their own terms.”

Not all in the caucus were happy with decision, despite it being unanimous.

Sen. Dean Rhodes, R-Tuscarora, said he “supported” the decision. Asked if he was happy, he said: “None of us are happy all of the time.”

McGinness said he began counting heads after the Churchill County Republican Central Committee asked him to seek the leadership spot.

“When I got to six, I knew I had the support,” he said.

He would not name the six. Sen. Ben Kieckhefer and Sen. James Settelmeyer both said the decision was “unanimous” and would not say whether they backed McGinness’s effort.

Raggio said he doesn’t regret his decision to vote for Reid.

“There’s no way I could support her,” he said of Angle, who ran a bitter primary challenge against Raggio in 2008.

But he had a warning about allowing ideological “my way or the highway” divisions in the party.

“This may be a Pyrrhic victory for them,” he said. “The desire to splinter the party may come back to haunt them as it’s done in the past.”

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