GOP Establishment strikes back against Hickey

UPDATE: As a sign of the pressure he is facing, and in an attempt to hold onto his leadership post, Hickey just put out this statement about 4 PM:


"I am sorry about my recent comments and regret I made them. It was not my intention to alienate any anyone, but I did misspeak, plain and simple and for that I apologize.


I agree with Gov. Sandoval that Republicans must earn the trust and confidence of all Nevadans. I look forward to working with the Governor and my fellow Republicans in accomplishing just that.”



Maybe they were busy. Maybe they were wondering if Pat Hickey was right. Maybe they were trying to get their messages coordinated.

Whatever the reason, it took nearly two days for prominent GOP leaders to distance themselves from Assembly Minority Leader Hickey's incendiary remarks.

As the national media leapt on the story Wednesday and national Democrats tried to use the comments to hurt candidates here (the Democratic Congtressional Campaign Committee actually sent out a release tying Rep. Joe Heck to the remarks!), suddenly Thursday morning, in rapid succession, we got:

7:21 AM, Gov. Brian Sandoval: "I disagree with the minority leader's statements. We must earn the trust and confidence of all Nevadans and seek their support on Election Day.   Pat's comments do not reflect my views and he should reconsider them."

7:42 AM, state Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson: "I am deeply disappointed in Pat Hickey's recent comments as they pertain to the youth and minority vote in Nevada. His comments are not reflective of my views and I have shared my concerns privately with Pat."

8:44 AM, Sen. Dean Heller: "Recent comments from Assemblyman Hickey are divisive, insensitive, and run counter to the basic duties and honor of public service. Assemblyman Hickey should know that it is a privilege to represent Nevada’s many cultures and ethnicities. And furthermore, it is his responsibility, as it is all elected officials, to welcome any Nevadan into the political process, regardless of political affiliation, background, or any other characteristic."


Heller was by far the strongest, just short of a demand to step down. But Sandoval, who is touting his Hispanic support, and Roberson, who needs every vote to count next year to become majority leader, have the most to lose.

I don't get a sense yet that there are any calls for Hickey to forfeit his leadership from anyone significant, either private or public. But he will probably have to do better than his tepid statement Wednesday (it's below) or his almost combative, gaffe-compunding ("yellow wife") performance on "Ralston Reports" (also below) Wednesday evening.

His caucus will be key, too, and the North-South split could be significant. Southern Assemblyman Paul Anderson has been seen by some as an heir-apparent, but Hickey is the only northern leader among the four in Carson City.

Whether we are closer to the beginning of this story or the end will depend on just how worried GOP leaders aree about the brand getting tarnished on the eve of a campaign season.


Hickey's statement:

"Yesterday I appeared on KOH Radio's talk show discussing a wide variety of topics. In the course of that discussion I made reference to voter turnout in the upcoming 2014 election cycle. I meant to say that in non-presidential year elections, higher propensity voters have tended to help GOP turnout numbers.


I have been a strong advocate that our party needs to grow our base of voters in order to be successful in future elections. In fact, last session at the Legislature, I was a co-sponsor of the resolution calling for compressive immigration reform. My comments yesterday certainly did not mean to imply that the only way our party can win an election is if younger and Latino voters are discouraged from participating.


While the facts are that historically fewer people participate in non-presidential election year voting, that should have not been taken to mean that I encourage people to not participate.


The Republican party has some great opportunities going forward into the 2014 election. First and foremost is that we as a party are working to recruit candidates that have a broad range of appeal. Secondly, historical voting patterns show that most U.S. President's parties do not do well in an election which is held in the sixth year of their respective presidencies. Among others, research done by the National Journal and Cook Political Report show that when a U.S. President has an approval rating below 50% in the sixth year of holding office -- historically that incumbent’s party has done the worst on election day over the past five decades."