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
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
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.
THE SANDOVAL SLIP
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
“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…
GO FLY A KITE
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.
THE CUT-AND-RUN CAUCUS
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
So things look pretty dark for Jim Wheeler these days, right?
Um, not so fast…
THE DEFENSE RISES
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…
WHEELER SUBJECT TO ORGANIZED ATTACK
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.
HOW DUMB DO
YOU THINK WE ARE?
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.
VOTING FOR SLAVERY
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.
SUPPORT RISES OUTSIDE DISTRICT 39, TOO
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.
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.
THE NORTH-SOUTH DIVIDE
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.
* * * * *
Chuck Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a non-profit public
policy grassroots advocacy organization. He may be reached at