Recall Fever Spreads to Nevada

By | July 7, 2008 | 8:29 PM EDT

( - Silver State conservatives appear to have taken a page from their Golden State counterparts. Some residents of Nevada upset over Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn's successful efforts to raise taxes earlier this year, have begun collecting signatures to recall the two-term governor.

California's Democratic governor, Gray Davis, faces a recall election Oct. 7.

In Nevada, Recall Guinn committee chairman Tony Dane told that the governor is being targeted because of the way he increased taxes earlier this year.

"He violated his oath of office when he tried to circumvent the constitution of the state of Nevada," Dane said.

Faced with a state budget deficit of $700 million, Guinn proposed a $5 billion budget, including $1.3 billion in spending increases and $860 million in tax increases. A majority of the state Legislature supported the tax increases, but the Nevada constitution requires a two-thirds supermajority to pass a tax hike. Guinn warned lawmakers that he could not authorize the funding of state schools without a budget.

After a special legislative session failed to approve Guinn's budget, he and the state attorney general requested that the Nevada Supreme Court intervene. It did, and ruled that the "procedural" two-thirds requirement was trumped by a "fundamental" obligation to fund education.

Dane said a recall of the Nevada Supreme Court "may be something that happens, but the catalyst behind the subversion of the constitution was Kenny Guinn."

Guinn spokesman Greg Bortolin said that while the governor applauded the court's ruling, he did not have a part in the decision to overturn the two-thirds requirement.

Bortolin dismissed the recall efforts and said Guinn has been a "good Republican."

"I don't think it's a real credible effort," he said. "The governor spent the first four years as governor streamlining, privatizing, freezing positions."

Guinn received a "B" on the CATO Institute's 2002 Fiscal Policy Report Card (, which grades each state governor. He received an "A" the previous year.

Bortolin added that the governor remains popular, citing a recent Reno Gazette-Journal and KRNV-TV poll, showing that 68 percent of Nevadans were opposed to Guinn's recall.

University of Nevada, Las Vegas political scientist Michael Bowers told \b the recall effort is not likely to succeed and also dismissed the effort as being driven by "fringe characters."

"All the mainstream political figures in the state, be they Democrats or Republicans, are opposed to it," Bowers explained. "So, what you have here are really fringe characters trying to push an agenda."

Bowers said voters are upset over Guinn's tax increase, but "not to the degree that a recall is likely to work... and, unlike the California recall election, you don't have a millionaire willing to pay for signatures," a reference to U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, who contributed over $1 million of his own money to fund the petition drive for the California recall.

Over 300 volunteers are helping to collect signatures at various public events for the Nevada recall, Dane said, and they plan to target Department of Motor Vehicles' offices soon.

According to Steve George, spokesman for the Nevada secretary of state's office, Dane and his volunteers now have until Nov. 25 to collect 128,109 signatures, representing 25 percent of those who voted in the November gubernatorial election. After the petitions are submitted, Secretary of State Dean Heller would have 10 to 20 days to call a special election, which would take place 30 days later.

Nevada has never witnessed a successful recall of a state officer, and unlike in California, where almost every governor is threatened with recall petitions, recall attempts are rare in the Silver State.

"In fact, none of us could remember the last time it's ever happened," George said.

Recall opponents have charged that Dane is trying to steal his fifteen minutes of fame by copying what has happened in neighboring California.

"They're going to say that, but they need to look at the facts," Dane answered. "The [Recall Guinn] website went up in February, when the rumors of the tax hikes went into flight. That was before California got started with their recall."

But Dane did say that Nevada's recall effort would get a boost from its sister movement in the Golden State.

:"People are seeing that they can take control of their government, which is something that they didn't believe they had. So when you give power back to the people, and they see that it's possible, they're going to take it," he explained.

See Earlier Story:

Could Recall Usher in 'New Political Weapon of Mass Destruction?'

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