Election 2020

A GOP Majority in Nevada by Way of Recall?

State Sen. Patricia Farley talks with Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson during the last day of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City, Nev., on June 5, 2017. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

Nevada state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse (D) called a recall campaign against her “an abuse of the recall process by individuals who are unfortunately still bitter about the results of the last election.”

Woodhouse is one of three female state senators – two of them Democrats, the third nonpartisan but caucuses with the Democrats – who are the targets of recall campaigns started in August.

Nevada Republicans are not claiming credit for the recall campaigns, nor are they disavowing them.

“Since it is filed, it will be up to the voters, but the governor will have nothing to do with it,” read a statement from Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval’s office after former GOP Assemblyman Stephen Silberkraus filed the first recall petition against Woodhouse.

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Victor Joecks said the motivation for the campaigns was evident.

“Without the recalls, Republicans can’t win a majority in the state Senate, even if they sweep next fall’s competitive Senate races,” Joecks wrote.

The Nevada State Education Association issued a statement in Woodhouse’s defense: “The recall process should be reserved for officeholders who have violated the public trust, not used as a Machiavellian political maneuver by those who lost an election, have a difference in policy positions, or simply hold a grudge.”

Under Nevada law, groups behind recall campaigns do not have to disclose their reasons for the recall on petitions.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported, the state’s constitution, in Article 2, Section 9, puts politicians on notice: “Every public officer in the State of Nevada is subject … to recall from office by the registered voters of the … district … which he represents.”

Nevada Democrats have leaped to the defense of the three senators targeted for recall and replacement by Republicans.

State Sen. Julia Ratti (D) tweeted to her followers that it was obvious “NV GOP has nothing better to do than harass female Senators. Decent republicans reclaim your party.”

State Democratic Party Chair William McCurdy II said the campaign against Woodhouse was nothing but a “baseless and pathetic effort…to overthrow the will of the voters.”

“There’s no good reason for trying to steal a Senate seat you just lost in November, and that’s why no one behind this stupid political stunt has been able to justify it to the press or the public,” McCurdy said.

“As more facts emerge about this secret scheme, it’s obvious Republicans are just trying to further the political ambitions of a few failed candidates at the expense of Nevada voters and taxpayers,” McCurdy added.

Nevada Democrats also charged the recall effort against Woodhouse was led by former GOP Assemblyman and “sore loser” Stephen Silberkraus. He lost re-election in 2016 after it was reported that he appeared in a sexual fetish film about women who were forced to live in cages like animals.

Silberkraus admitted that he was in the movie, “The Pet,” but said it was just one of the small roles he played as a TV, film, music video, and commercial extra in the late 1990s to mid-2000s.

Nonpartisan Nevada state Sen. Patricia Farley, the second of the three senators to be targeted by a recall campaign, told the Review-Journal the campaign she’s facing “stupid” and “gutter politics at its best.”

Farley used to be a Republican. She was a GOP candidate when she won the election in 2014. But two years later, she switched to nonpartisan. During the 2017 Legislature, Farley caucused with Democrats.

The result of the recall won’t matter much to Farley, who told the Review-Journal earlier that she would not seek re-election in 2018.

But while the outcome of the Farley recall campaign won’t impact the 2018 election, it could affect the Nevada Legislature Commission.

Farley is a member of the Commission that takes care of legislative business when the Legislature is not in session.

“When you’re a group of people and you lack a substantive policy agenda, the only option you have left is to pull stunts to get attention,” Farley said.

Democrat Nicole Cannizzaro (D) was the third state senator targeted for recall in August.

“Nevada Republicans have stooped to a new low by filing this baseless petition, but I’m not surprised by their secretive political games,” Cannizzaro said in a statement. “The shady special interests and cowardly legislators behind this subversion of the recall process don’t intimidate me one bit.”

Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford described the recall efforts against the three senators as “a backroom scheme by Republicans.”

But Joecks wrote the Democrats are busily at work in a backroom, too.

“The real reason Democrats are upset and resorting to hyperventilating statements and laughable smears,” Joecks said, “is they don’t want to lose their political power and their dreams of making Nevada a sanctuary state, raising property taxes and renaming McCarran International Airport after Harry Reid.”