Las Vegas Sun

March 28, 2017

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Sun Editorial:

Recalls aren’t meant to be used for political bullying

As state lawmakers prepare for the start of their regular session Monday, there has been a stir in the Assembly about the potential recall of several Republicans.

A conservative group has been organizing recall efforts, targeting those they say haven’t come out clearly against new taxes.

In the past month, conservative activists sent out mailers attacking Assembly Speaker-designate John Hambrick and freshman Assemblyman Chris Edwards. There are others on the list, which came out of the turmoil in the Republican caucus about leadership posts and Gov. Brian Sandoval’s tax plans.

Republicans, who won control of the Legislature in the election, are now badly split, and the pursuit of recall elections will further that division. That could certainly upset any sense of order in the Legislature.

Of course, if the intent is to disrupt Sandoval’s plan to try to fix the broken tax system and raise revenues, that may well serve the purpose, no matter how the recall efforts fare.

Although this is legal — state law allows anyone to try to recall an officeholder for any reason — it is unfortunate that some conservatives have chosen the recall as a way to do battle about taxes. It may eventually backfire on the conservative activists planning the recalls.

Political commentator Jon Ralston noted on his website, RalstonReports.com, that there has never been a successful recall of a state lawmaker since 1912, when the recall came into law. There have been successful recall attempts since, but those have been of local officeholders and typically in cases in which there was a strong reason to remove them.

Originally, recalls were put into law during the progressive era to give voters a way to remove corrupt politicians.

In this case, however, what’s the reason? They’re not conservative enough?

If that’s the case, that’s what elections are for — and those elections were contested in November.

If this is about tax policy, that should be debated in the Legislature, and activists and lawmakers can fight it out in Carson City.

If this is about who should be the Republican leaders in the Assembly, that’s what caucus rooms are for.

The fallout of this won’t be pretty. It will cause problems in the way the Legislature works, but again, that may be the goal. If so, that shows a weakness in the recall advocates’ ability to win the tax debate. They are using the threat of recall to try to bully Republicans into voting against the governor’s tax plan and punish them if they don’t fall in line.

We can’t imagine voters will be pleased. They already have expressed their displeasure with the never-ending election cycle, and they’ll be left wondering why they’re going back to the polls for this.

Recalls should be used for extraordinary issues — corruption, malfeasance or failure to perform in office, for example. Unfortunately, these potential recalls seem to be an attempt to bully people into voting a certain way, and that is not the intent of the law.

We would hope that people would let these recall efforts fail and let the state lawmakers they elected do the work they’re supposed to do in Carson City.

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