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Gov. Raggio: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss
by Andrew Barbano
Apr 24, 2010 | 1241 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last week in true entrepreneurial fashion, Republican teetotalers were charged 11 bucks a head for admission to a political debate by GOP front-runners for governor and U.S. Senate.

From commie-pinko-liberal media reports (I’ll be damned if I’ll pay $11), it appears Gov. Jim Gibbons won the evening. His opponents agreed with him on most issues. As Father Diamond taught us in debate class, when your opponent agrees with you, you win.

Bill Raggio surrogate Brian Sandoval didn’t do himself any good by endorsing the latest metastasis of American racism in Arizona, but then he didn’t have much to lose. Latino leaders of my acquaintance have had serious reservations about this guy for a long time. Their worst fears were realized with Sandoval’s lame response to a question on immigration from a Reno TV reporter awhile back.

The former legislator, attorney general and federal judge replied that he didn’t know much about it and wanted to sit down with the reporter so that she could educate him. Lame really doesn’t describe it. Laid back? Naw. Paralyzed? Nope. How about catatonic? Perhaps. Morally obtuse? Gotcha.

As I noted on Jan. 24, if Sandoval wins the governor’s mansion, State Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, becomes de facto governor by controlling two branches of state government. Nevada lawmakers labor under worse minority rule strictures than the U.S. Senate. It takes a two-thirds vote to pass anything meaningful because few meaningful pieces of legislation don’t involve taxpayer money.

As a gimmick to try to beat incumbent Democratic Gov. Bob Miller, Gibbons circulated a 1994 initiative petition mandating minority moonhowler rule at the Ledge. Jim the Dim lost the election, but the gimmick passed. State and local governments, school districts and the university system are today collapsing as a result.

It is unlikely that Democrats will control two-thirds of each house next year, meaning that Raggio will hold veto power over any move to fix the state’s long-busted taxation system.

He thus stands to become arguably the most powerful state official in history with Sandoval’s election.

I’ve been carping for months that northern newspapers save this one have ignored the fact that Raggio’s juice law firm hired Sandoval upon his resigning his judgeship to run for governor. A detailed Google search still shows that to be the case. The Reno Gazette-Journal edited out that information when it picked up an Associated Press story. Perhaps the full AP feed ran elsewhere in non-Las Vegas print editions. Newspapers normally don’t leave AP stories on their websites. Raggio has since endorsed Sandoval.

As my late, great Republican pollster and friend Brent Tyler once kernelized his oft-stated advice to campaign contributors, “Pay ‘em now or pay ‘em later.”

Raggio’s firm is now hedging its bets by hosting a fundraiser for Democrats. This smoking gun was circulated a few days ago: “Please Join Jones Vargas For a Fundraiser and Reception Honoring The Assembly Democratic Caucus, Thursday, April 29, Jones Vargas, 100 W. Liberty St., 12th Floor, Reno, NV 89501, 5 - 7 p.m., Suggested Contribution $1,000 Payable to: Assembly Democratic Caucus.”


The Assembly Democratic Caucus was started at perhaps the lowest point for the Donkeykongs in the Age of Reagan. The 1984 Reagan landslide resulted in a Republican-dominated legislature. After adjournment one evening, three disheartened minority Democrats met to cry in their beer at Jack’s Bar. Each put a $100 bill on the bar to hire political operative Gary Gray to start the ADC. They only issued one unbreakable order: Never endorse in a primary.

The ADC has chosen sides in Democratic primaries this year and it threatens to send divided Democrats to Carson City.

Several of the ADC-anointed are going to lose, so Gov. Raggio is wisely hedging his bets.

Perhaps the joke will be on Big Bad Bill, who has forgotten Napolean’s advice: “When your enemy is destroying himself, never interfere.”

Senator Sue

As old advertising guys have always advised, you gotta have a gimmick. GOP U.S. Senate frontrunner Sue Lowden may benefit from her nationally ridiculed comment about bartering chickens for medical care, something a Democratic operative termed a “fluster cluck.”

In 1972, the late great and then-unknown Mary Gojack faced seemingly insurmountable odds opposing longtime GOP lawmaker Corky Lingenfelter for his southwest Reno state Assembly seat. The area was, and remains to this day, overwhelmingly Republican.

Gojack came out with a position endorsing breathalyzer tests for lawmakers before entry to  legislative floor sessions. She said she had noticed some drunks during the 1971 session.

It made national news and made Mary viable at the same time. She became the only Democrat ever to hold that seat.

Democrats should not count their chickens before they hatch when it comes to the Botoxy chick from Gomorrah South.

Help Wanted

Regular readers know that I have been raising money to help Sierra Nevada Community Access Television fully benefit from a matching foundation grant of $40,000. If you can help with a tax-deductible donation, please give me a holler at 882-TALK or drop me a line.

Help Wanted, Part Deux

The Reno-Sparks NAACP holds its annual Freedom Fund Banquet on May 22 at the Peppermill in Reno. For ticket and sponsorship information, go to or contact me.

Be well. Raise hell.

Andrew Barbano is a 41-year Nevadan, second vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP and editor of E-mail Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.
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