Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011 | 5:37 p.m.
The race for Nevada’s rural state Senate district could be among the most interesting Republican primaries of the election season, offering an indication of GOP voters’ position on taxes.
It pits a blunt cattle rancher, who has voted to raise taxes, against a dairyman who signed a pledge not to raise taxes and held to it.
Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka, announced today that he’s running for Senate District 19 in Eastern Nevada, which extends from Elko south through Nye County and into the rural portions of Clark County.
Assemblyman Ed Goedhart, R-Amargosa Valley, confirmed in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun that he is also running for the seat.
Goicoechea has angered the libertarian wing of the Republican Party by publicly saying prior to the 2011 session that he believed the state would need to extend temporary tax increases that were set to expire. (A number of Republicans agreed with him, but wouldn’t say as much in public.)
A rancher with a walrus mustache, Goicoechea remained consistent in his position during the 2011 Legislative session, even when Gov. Brian Sandoval preached that he would under no circumstances raise taxes.
Eventually, Sandoval and a majority of Assembly Republicans, and many Senate Republicans, voted to extend those temporary tax increases, which were first adopted in 2009.
Goedhart, a dairyman, was not shy about his view of the Republican primary, calling his opponent a “Republican in name only” or “RINO.”
He said Goicoechea is “a very likable guy, more of a go along to get along. He’s what I’d call a RINO Republican.”
Goicoechea voted for the temporary tax increases in 2009, which were needed to close the state’s budget deficit, and then voted in 2011 to extend them for two years.
Goedhart noted: “I voted against both of those (tax increases). You can see who the conservative one in that race is. That would be me.”
Goicoechea said: “I’m not going to get into a name-calling contest, at least at this point. He knows what his strengths and weaknesses are, as do I. I’ll leave it up to the voters.”
Goicoechea said he’s running for state Senate because under term limits, he only has one term left in the Assembly and he didn’t want to take out one of the freshman Republican assemblymen.
State Sen. Dean Rhoads, R-Tuscarora, who currently holds the state Senate seat, is term limited.