State Senate Majority Leader Bill Raggio, a Republican icon who has served as GOP leader in the Nevada Senate since 1983, today lost his leadership seat to longtime Senator Mike McGinness, R-Fallon.
Raggio, a moderate who publicly endorsed Harry Reid over Sharron Angle in the U.S. Senate race, had been widely criticized for that choice.
Going into this morning’s caucus meeting, GOP circles were buzzing with talk that McGinness was gathering votes from the more conservative senators. McGinness reportedly had the nod from newly elected Republican senators Elizabeth Halseth and Michael Roberson, both of whom are far more conservative than the senators they replaced.
Before the election, McGinness told Las Vegas Sun bureau chief Cy Ryan he was “disappointed” with Raggio’s endorsement of Reid.
This is not the first time Raggio has been at odds with the more conservative and libertarian factions of the party. In 2003, he joined Republican governor Kenny Guinn in support of a tax increase. Then, in 2009, Raggio and four other senators joined Democrats to override Governor Jim Gibbons’ veto of a state budget that included tax increases.
Raggio, first elected to the state senate in 1972, is the state’s longest-serving state senator.
Republicans gained one seat in Tuesday’s election, but Democrats still control the state’s upper house 11 to 10.