Las Vegas Sun

January 25, 2015

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Memo from Carson City:

Roberson will lead GOP drive to regain state Senate majority

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Sen. Michael Roberson

Sen. Michael Roberson, the freshman who emerged from the legislative session as conservatives’ top pugilist, will head Republicans’ efforts to retake the state Senate next year.

The job positions Roberson to lead the Republican Senate caucus and, if his campaign efforts are successful, the state’s upper house in the future.

Senate Minority Leader Mike McGinness, R-Fallon, selected Roberson, a Henderson attorney, over veteran state Sen. Barbara Cegavske, another Southern Nevada conservative who had expressed interest in leading the caucus.

Roberson will raise money and recruit candidates as Republicans attempt to wrest control of the Senate after two sessions in the minority. Republicans need to take one seat from Democrats to gain the majority.

The position gives Roberson the upper hand in currying favor with his state Senate colleagues, who will choose a replacement for McGinness for the 2013 session. Because of term limits, McGinness served his one and only session as leader of the caucus last session.

Roberson’s rapid rise was aided by his provocative floor statements.

During budget debates he accused Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford of “lecturing” Republicans. Roberson also accused Democrats of being “beholden to public-sector unions.”

He seemed to relish the verbal battles, wearing a small smile as he rose to joust in his Kansas twang.

Democrats accused him of ignoring decorum. Sen. Mike Schneider, D-Las Vegas, memorably referred to him as the “rookie from Green Valley” and attacked him for signing a pledge not to raise taxes.

Roberson and Cegavske both voted against the budget compromise reached by Democrats and Gov. Brian Sandoval. In total, four Republicans, including McGinness, voted for the compromise; six voted against it.

Reached last week, Roberson wouldn’t say what his tactics will be in the upcoming campaign.

The chances of control of the Senate flipping to Republicans depend in large part on how Senate districts are drawn, a fight that will be decided in District Court.

Roberson is on the inside track to be the leader, observers said, unless his campaign efforts result in an electoral flop.

Democrats have controlled both the Assembly and Senate for the past two sessions. But Democrats are uncertain about some candidates facing re-election and have several seats to defend. Senate Democrats are expecting Horsford to run for Congress instead of seeking re-election. Speaker John Oceguera is termed out, and several assemblymen have expressed interest in the leadership post.

And Roberson has proved he can raise money and run campaigns. During his 2010 election, Roberson raised $380,000, a considerable sum, to unseat incumbent Democrat Joyce Woodhouse. Both parties considered that race a priority.

Roberson confirmed last week he’s interested in being leader after the November 2012 election, but noted his priority is having Republicans take control of the upper house.

“I’m focused on working with everybody else in that caucus, under the guidance of Sen. McGinness, to make sure we’re in the majority,” he said.

Cegavske did not return calls for comment.

Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Minden, agreed that Republicans should be focused on claiming the majority and wait until later to worry about who the leader will be.

He said Roberson will likely manage Southern Nevada candidates. “The north will take care of the north,” he said.

“The leader will naturally emerge. Individuals will rise to the top,” Settelmeyer said when asked if he’d be interested in leading the Senate Republican caucus.

McGinness was equally tight-lipped when asked who he thought would lead Senate Republicans next session.

Wading into that fight is “a good way to get shot,” he said. “I’m staying the heck away from that.”

But McGinness’ actions speak quite loudly, and he has put Roberson in prime position to be the next leader.

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  1. Re-take the state? This Republican state has been destroyed by conservative, greedy, corporate politics. We need it to have more people friendly, you know more of a democratic environment. We should be helping the people that live here rather than allowing more of the same agenda. We need real change and bringing more republicans into the state to "Re-take" it is a full step backward. We never seem to learn from our mistakes. By putting in agenda driven Rep. Sandoval as our Governor or Granny Goodman the Ex-Mayors wife as our new mayor over someone actually experienced and in touch with our reality, or any normal reality we have sealed our fate. The state is like a big sinking ship in the desert and we keep throwing bloated fat-cats on board and we wonder why we keep sinking deeper. Ignorance breeds ignorance.

  2. @Sevenfoot...we need more legislators who receive paychecks from the unions or government entities while carrying bills that benefit them?

    How about Oceguera collecting $150,000 per year as a fire cheif while campaigning for office, spending 4 months in Carson City and collecting his salary as a State Senator?

    Or, Senator Copening collecting a salary from a property management company and writing bills to their benefit?

    Or, Senator Horn who went on an over seas "educational junket" paid for by on line poker and then carried legislation to make on line poker legal in NV.

    And Senator Horsford who tried selling access to himself and committee leaders for a $25,000 campaign contribution. Then Horsford says the Senate doesn't need an ethics board. They can manage themselves....yeah right!

  3. the south will always be the atm of the state because dems won't do anything at a city or county level. All the legislation comes from the state level. If the state level says we need to spend 2o million on food banks. at the local the state can't send those funds out uneven. If the city of las vegas says that they need to spens 5 million on food banks then LV keeps it all and the benefit goes to las vegas.

    Its about smaller more efficent government. Do what u can at the lowest level not the highest. The most powerful politicians should be your local city council not the state legislature or the governor for that matter.