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Wailing on Wheeler: The Defense Takes the Stand


The left has had a field day this week with conservative Republican Assemblyman Jim Wheeler’s statement at a town hall meeting way back in August that he’d vote to bring back slavery if they put a gun to his head

And you know, that’s the part of Wheeler’s remarks that amazingly (not) his enemies continue to ignore. 

Wheeler never said he would gleefully and without objection vote to bring back slavery if that’s what his constituents wanted.  He said he’d bite his tongue, hold his nose and only do it if they held a gun to his head.

  • Hell, you hold a gun to my head and I’d vote for a tax hike!
  • Hold a gun to my head and I’d vote for Michael Roberson!!
  • Hold a gun to my head and I’ll sign a statement declaring that Jon Ralston is the greatest “journalist” of all time, not just the #2 liberal blogger in Nevada.
  • Hold a gun to my head I’ll say the Mark “SureWould” Sherwood was the smartest state legislator Nevada has ever seen.
  • Hold a gun to my head and I’ll swear under oath that Gov. Brian Sandoval’s word is good as gold.
  • Heck, hold a gun to my head and I’ll confess to the Hoffa murder and Lindbergh kidnapping!

So how ‘bout you all with that hangman’s noose in your hands come down of that sanctimonious high horse of yours.  The man made an analogy to make a point that no one with half a brain took to be a serious proposal…and he has apologized for it.



I’d forgotten this, but thanks to Ralston’s TV producer, Dana Gentry, for reminding us that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, is guilty of saying almost the exact same sort of thing that Wheeler said, only in his case Sandoval was siding with the Nazis, not slave owners. 

Yet Sandoval was one of the first turncoat Republicans to trash the conservative Wheeler this week.

“Assemblyman Wheeler’s comments are deeply offensive and have no place in our society,” Sandoval said a statement dripping with disdain. “He should retract his remarks and apologize.”

Which, of course, Wheeler did.  Very quickly.  Immediately, even.

Which is more than we can say for Gov. Sandoval who, to the best of my knowledge – though I may stand to be corrected – never retracted and apologized for his own deeply offensive comments about the Nazis that have no place in our society.

What?  You’re not sure what I’m talking about?  Oh, gee, OK…

Let’s hop into the Google Wayback Machine to April 22, 2010.  Sandoval was trashing another conservative, then-Gov. Jim Gibbons, in his GOP primary challenge. In response, Jill Lufrano, the Gibbons’ campaign’s communications director, issued a press release which included the following…

“When Sandoval was running for Attorney General, a reporter asked him, ‘…if the Legislature passed a law requiring all Jews to wear yellow stars of David on the outside of their clothing, you’d enforce it?’

“Did Sandoval stand up for human rights? Did he defend the Constitution? NO. His answer? ‘It’s my job to enforce it.’ This is the same excuse, ‘just following orders,’ that the Nazi’s gave when they were asked, by American soldiers, why did they participate in the Nazi plan against the Jews in World War II.

“That’s right. Brian Sandoval would not stand up for what is right and he would not stand up to the Legislature. Sandoval would not defend the basic human rights of Nevada citizens. Sandoval would promote ethnic bias and anti-Semitism, justifying this by saying that he would just be doing his ‘job to enforce it.’”

Holy hypocrisy, Batman!  Talk about a guy in a glass house throwing stones!

But while we’re at it, let’s put Wheeler’s comment in this regard in even a little more context…


Wheeler represents a VERY conservative/VERY Republican district that covers Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties in rural Nevada – or as Ralston would say, “rules Nevada.”

And ain’t no way, no how, the constituents of that district supported raising taxes by some $700+ million in 2011 by extending the “temporary” tax hikes of 2009…which the constituents of District 39 also opposed, as well.

And yet…despite the desires of his constituents…then-Assemblyman Kelly Kite bent to the will of the governor and Carson City lobbyists and voted FOR that tax hike.

As such, the voters who Kite blew off kicked Kite to the curb in the GOP primary last year and elected Wheeler to replace him. 

And unlike Kite, Wheeler stood up to the governor and the lobbyists and voted against extending the “sunsets” this year.  Wheeler, unlike Kite, listened to his constituents.  And that’s what this is all about.


Yet some of Wheeler’s GOP colleagues are now rushing to throw the man under the bus, with a vote on whether or not to oust him from the Assembly Republican Caucus scheduled to take place in a 5:00 pm conference call tonight.

Four of them have already given Wheeler a public shiv in the back, with Republican Assemblymen John Hambrick, Wes Duncan, Lynn Stewart and Paul Anderson miraculously discovering this week how to send press releases out, something they apparently did not know how to do during the Steven Brooks mess earlier this year.

I guess piling on a colleague is only appropriate by Assembly Republican weenies when going after a fellow Assembly colleague who was guilty of exercising free, but politically incorrect, speech as opposed to, you know, actually threatening to shoot the Speaker.  Go figure.

So things look pretty dark for Jim Wheeler these days, right? 

Um, not so fast…


You see, the only opinions that really matter here are the opinions of the very constituents Wheeler is in trouble for listening to.  So are they offended by Wheeler’s “gun to the head” remarks and ready to toss him out on his can?

Not just “no,” but “hell no!!!”

On Saturday, the official Republican Party organizations from all three counties that Mr. Wheeler represents passed resolutions in support of the embattled assemblyman.

“The Lyon County Republican Central Committee offers its strongest, unqualified support to Assemblyman Jim Wheeler for the leadership example he displays in representing The People of the Great State of Nevada,” concludes the resolution, passed UNANIMOUSLY and signed by Chairman Peggy Gray.

The resolutions from the other two counties, I’m told, are nearly identical.

There were also three letters-to-the-editor published in the Douglas County Record-Courier on Friday…



Assemblyman Jim Wheeler upholds the Constitution: Government of, by and for the people. The illustration of slavery was unfortunate and should have been defused at the origin.

But like many politicians including Obama, Sandoval, Heller, Reid, Assemblyman Wheeler got caught up in the discussion of his issue — working for the voters of District 39 — without taking in the explosiveness of the illustration.

Would he vote for slavery? Of course not. That was never the issue, but there is an ugly face to politics.

I believe there is an organized attack against Assemblyman Wheeler because he does not kowtow to the PACs, lobbyists, special interest groups. Why didn’t this incident hit the newspapers after it occurred in Storey County, earlier this year. Why now?

Why did the YouTube video suddenly evoke the media outrage now and not then? Organized assassination?

This stinks. I am appalled at what intelligent people are willing to believe. Republican or Democrat, our responsibility as voters and as responsible citizens is to examine the facts before we draw conclusions. It is interesting that Kelly Kite, former Assemblyman, is going to run against Wheeler in 2014.

He has also tried to uncover issues long ago addressed by the Legislature when Wheeler took office. Kelly Kite’s voting record both as a County Commissioner and an Assemblyman demonstrated his leaning to the PACs, special interests and lobbies. This is a good lesson for the freshman assemblyman and I pray he will learn well and continue to keep my interests in the forefront.

Elaine Smith



Regarding the primary front page Record- Courier article on Oct. 30 was “Wheeler Blames Media…”

I read the Nevada Appeal Oct 29 article related to the above noted report…my comments: First, the slavery question is preposterous and insulting to the citizens of District 39.

Second, the Appeal article states, “Democrats jumped on the statements as reprehensible and disgusting.” Really? The R-C article reports, “Wheeler told the Storey County Republican Central Committee in August.” From August to the end of October is a really big jump. Third, if this was so offensive in August, why didn’t a citizen-voter come forward from Storey County previously?

This is politics plain and simple…and dirty at that. I am aggrieved that the media thinks we are so stupid. (This is not Washington, DC).

I have faith in the intelligence and virtue of my fellow citizens. Nevada, vote your heart and soul in 2014, just as Jim Wheeler has done for us in the 2013 Assembly.

Cheryl Kelley



Jim Wheeler is never going to vote for or against slavery. This brouhaha is a dream come-true for Jim’s political opponents.

Take a conservative man’s principled position of being loyal to his constituent’s wishes, and turn it into a phony argument to insinuate that he is a racist.

Why is this happening to Jim? It is because Jim will not vote to raise taxes. He will not betray his constituents. A politician like Jim is a threat to the Progressive Leadership Alliance as well as Republicans who depend on crony capitalism.

We know that most politicians cannot resist the temptation of raising taxes. Kelly Kite, who may be Jim’s 2014 Republican primary opponent, makes no secret that he will raise taxes if he is elected. When Kelly Kite was in the Nevada Assembly, Kelly voted against the sunsetting of $712 million of taxes in 2011.

We are fortunate to have Jim Wheeler representing us in the Assembly. Please join me in supporting Jim Wheeler for District 39 Assembly.

Jeanne Shizuru


And lest you think support for Wheeler and opposition to his political lynching is restricted to just the constituents of his district, think again.  The following letter-to-the-editor was published today in the Las Vegas Review-Journal…

Overreaction to Wheeler’s hyperbole

To the editor:

Can someone please explain to me what the difference is between Assemblyman Jim Wheeler using hyperbole to illustrate that his job is to represent the people who elected him and Sheldon Adelson using hyperbole to illustrate his belief that actions speak louder than words? Granted, Mr. Wheeler used a poor example (of voting for slavery if that was what his constituents wanted) to make his point, just as Mr. Adelson used a poor example (of bombing Iran) to make his point.

But how can anyone really believe that Mr. Wheeler was serious, while at the same time believe that Mr. Adelson was kidding? Why are some people calling for Mr. Wheeler to resign, but not even condemning Mr. Adelson’s comments?

I don’t belong to any political party, but I personally find it refreshing that a politician, any politician, actually believes that his job is to represent the people who elected him, rather than to represent the people who gave him the most money. Most politicians only give lip service to representing the people, but Mr. Wheeler actually practices it.

We should be holding up Mr. Wheeler as an example of what all politicians should be like. He might have put his foot in his mouth, but his heart is in the right place. To believe anything else is to completely miss the point.




Of course, it wasn’t just Mr. Wheeler’s comments referencing slavery that got him in hot water.  He also said some rather unflattering things about southern Nevada to this northern Nevada gathering.  But it is absolutely mind-boggling that southerners, who regularly ridicule and denigrate our northern brethren, would take such high dudgeon over such a trivial matter.

The North-South rift in this state is as real as it is old.  Indeed, who can ever forget that time back in the 90s when then-State Sen. Dina Titus referred to northern Nevada flood victims as “rascals” and suggested they were padding their flood claims to build outdoor decks on their homes?

Or when she called Washoe County a “sponge just soaking up the income that’s been earned by the blood and sweat of miners, gamblers, ranches throughout the rest of the state.”

What?  I’m the ONLY one who remembers that?  Well, good thing you have me here then, huh?!

So enough is enough.  Get off Jim Wheeler’s back.  He said what he said.  It was a legitimate point when taken in context.  But he’s acknowledged it was a poor choice for his analogy.  He’s apologized.  Move on.

As for his Republican colleagues in the Assembly “chicken” caucus who will vote on what actions to take in this matter tonight, this is where we’ll separate the men from the boys.  Time to choose sides.  Side with your base and conservative colleague…or Jon Ralston and the liberal lynch mob?

Why do I suspect that only Assemblywoman Michele Fiore will show any balls on tonight’s call? 

I hope they at least have the decency to make it a public vote and not secret ballot.  We, the people – especially Wheeler’s constituents – deserve to know who our enemies within are.


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