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March 6, 2015

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Senate race exposes fractures in Republican Party

GOP leaders say the state party firmly backs Sharron Angle against Sen. Harry Reid. But rancorous disputes are evident after Reno Republican state Sen. Bill Raggio last week endorsed Reid

Bill Raggio

Bill Raggio

Sig Rogich

Sig Rogich

Sun coverage

It seems having a polarizing, high-profile Democrat as their top target would unite Nevada Republicans. Instead the state GOP finds itself engaged in internecine attacks over the candidacy of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The intraparty feuding peaked last week with state Sen. Bill Raggio, the Reno Republican and longest-serving state senator in history, endorsing Reid over Republican challenger Sharron Angle.

Angle’s campaign dismissed Raggio, saying it didn’t want the support of a politician who would vote to raise taxes as Raggio had. And the Clark County Republican Party asked its state Senate candidates not to support Raggio’s re-election as the caucus leader, a position he has held since 1987.

That was followed by Sig Rogich, long a party kingmaker and a prominent member of “Republicans for Reid,” exchanging fusillades with former Gov. Bob List, who is Nevada’s Republican national committeeman.

Democrats, to be sure, have had their own share of infighting. But the Republican civil war underscores what the party lacks and Democrats have: an undisputed head of their party, such as Reid, who can impose order.

Republicans, by contrast, have Gov. Jim Gibbons, who was defeated in June’s primary, and Sen. John Ensign, tarnished by his affair with a former employee and his parents’ gift to her family.

Thus, Nevada’s U.S. Senate race is featuring an unprecedented level of Republican infighting.

Although the rancor is unusual, the divisions aren’t. Every two years in Carson City, there’s a simmering tension in the Republican Party over taxes and fiscal issues, as libertarian wing clashes with more centrist members.

Of course, sometimes it just seems personal.

Raggio and Angle may have been divided over taxes and the role of a legislator initially. But by 2008, when she challenged him in the state Senate primary, it seemed more personal. (Raggio will mention occasionally that Angle never called to concede the race to him.)

And List and Rogich’s letters dragged into the light of day the type of accusations that politicos mutter over drinks.

List started with a letter to the Republican National Committee, criticizing it for having Rogich co-host a Las Vegas fundraiser for California U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorino. Rogich is an adviser to Reid’s campaign.

“Rogich has burned virtually every bridge to our party and to the Las Vegas business community,” List wrote in letters first reported by the Las Vegas Sun’s Jon Ralston.

Rogich responded by calling List a failed politician who sold out the state as a pro-Yucca Mountain project lobbyist.

List wrote another letter, stating that Rogich was selfishly motivated in supporting Reid.

“No one is buying your rhetoric about your support for Harry Reid being driven by ‘what is best for Nevada.’ It is patently clear that your support for Sen. Reid is all about your personal economic interests, as every knowledgeable political observer and operative in this state knows.”

Both Rogich and List downplayed the conflict in interviews with the Sun.

“I don’t think it has long-term effect,” Rogich said.

List called it “sideline noise.”

Some Republicans say that the party is less fractured than it appears and the Reid campaign wants the public to believe.

Robert Uithoven, a Republican who ran Sue Lowden’s unsuccessful U.S. Senate bid, said outside of a few well-known, longtime insiders, there has not been a wave of defections.

“They’re all people who have financial interest in Sen. Reid’s success, or have long-term relationships with the senator,” Uithoven said. “It’s not as widespread as you think. Republicans are remarkably unified around Sharron Angle.”

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  1. There are no fractures in the GOP. Those you mention are simply the Benedict Arnolds coming out of the closet.

  2. "List called it 'sideline noise.'"

    No. I wouldn't downplay it and pooh pooh it away by calling it "sideline noise."

    I'd call it that the Republican Party has morphed into an unmanageable mess.

    In Nevada, as well as nationally, they say they are united. But they are not. You have the nutball lunatic fringe way off the scale neo-conservatives taking over. And when the moderates try to institute rationality, they get slapped. It's so bad within the Republican Party that even when someone is to the center or just a bit right of center says something halfway reasonable, the other nutballs all dogpile on them and call them leftists!

    But this is what they get. They had a President for 8 years that had no clue what he was doing, how to run a country and even could not tie his shoes without someone advising him. President Bush will go down in history as the most incompetent President we've ever had.

    Mix in with that history the fact that after President Obama and his administration started, the Republican Party didn't address any problem at all. They sat there. And when someone actually tried to produce a direction for them, it was the wrong people. The Republican Party actually let Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and a total of over 400 nut case right wing radio and television media do their talking for them. They sat there and nodded, looked at each other and said, sounds way over the top, but what the hey, we'll go with it, this scorched earth policy of not working with anyone and voting no and obstructing sounds like a plan.

    They don't need to be in power. They need to sit it out on the sidelines for quite a while. What they really need to do not only here in Nevada, but nationally, is they need to clean house. And fix things to show some unity.

    I actually could care less if Republicans get anywhere soon, but that's the way I see it. And those that disagree with this estimate probably are looking at it with a horse-with-blinders approach. The simple fact is that the asylum has busted it's doors wide open...and the inmates are in charge...the wards of it are held hostage. It's so bad, they have absolutely no wiggle room for compromise they have went so far to the right.

  3. Nothing will be, or is, perfect or absolute in either Party. The Independent, Tea Party, Libertarians and non-partisans will be the deciding factor in this election thus causing Reid to loose his Seat.

  4. It would be nice if the debates were about sanity and civility and the issues instead of figuring out how to sling mud that will stick! It appears that these muckity muck republicrats at least have some of the interest of the public in mind!

  5. The only Tea Party Candidate who is NOT nuts is Scott Ashjian. I hope people who really want change vote for him and not Angle, who wants to grow government to the point where it can prosecute any woman who has an abortion and forces every woman who becomes pregnant to have the child. Talk about the ultimate in nanny-state, THATS Sharon Angle.

  6. The Republican Party is nationally throwing away a golden opportunity to regain some lost seats in Congress. Why have they selected/endorsed such a radical slate of candidates in so many states that are ripe for the picking?

  7. Also, speaking of Republican fractures, GOV Gibbons now can only get government heath care since he has a pre-existing condition. Like Angle he complaints about government health care while he gets it.

  8. This is amazing to see Republicant party exposed for what it is. The party is well on its way out, too long in coming the the good of the citizens of Nevada. They think that no one else can look ahead and see what is going to happen if they can regain power. They think that everyone has forgotten about John Ensigns little fiasco or Jim Gibbons outstanding success as a Republicant Governor. The national party of the Republicants can not afford to throw stones either, with their promiscuity with campaign funds.

    They try and blame Senator Reid and President Obama for the problems and think that the public will forget what caused all of the economic turmoil in the U.S.A.. Their strategy is to lie until confronted and then change positions. It has been sickening to watch the Republicants in inaction the past year. If anyone votes for them I am sure their blinders will be worth a fortune. If they do vote for the Republicants all I have to say is you haven't see anything yet. If you are fortunate enough to have a job you will see your taxes increase in one form or the other. If you do not have a job, as Sharron Angle puts it, TOUGH LUCK.

    I think what we are looking at is the start of the exodus from Nevada. If you have a vacancy or so in your neighborhood now in a years time it will be much worse. The more vacant house the greater the drop in home values.