Group Says Guinn Recall Effort May Fail

Governor Kenny Guinn
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A group trying to recall Republican Gov. Kenny Guinn was having trouble collecting enough signatures to qualify for the Nevada ballot, an organizer said Wednesday.

"I don't know if we'll make it," Christopher Hansen, vice chairman of the Recall Guinn Committee, said of a Nov. 25 deadline.

The Nevada recall effort faces a tougher challenge than in California, he said, and accused state officials of blocking volunteers from collecting signatures in state and county government buildings.

Officials denied the obstruction charge, and said the recall effort was simply unpopular.

"They're making excuses for a lack of organization and a lack of ability to gather signatures," Guinn spokesman Greg Bortolin said. "Whether you agree or disagree with the governor, I would think the overwhelming majority of voters in our state just believe the recall is flat wrong."

Hansen said the Nevada recall petition, begun Aug. 27, faces a stiffer challenge than in neighboring California where voters ousted Gov. Gray Davis on Tuesday and elected actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"It's very much more difficult here," he said.

Nevada recall proponents must collect signatures equal to 25 percent of the number of ballots cast in the last governor's race compared with 12 percent in California.

Hansen disputed reports that his group of conservative and anti-tax advocates only had 12,000 signatures - or fewer than one-tenth the number needed. But he said he could not provide an accurate number. He said names from northern Nevada had not been tallied, and added that he thought he had at least 250 signatures in his car.

The Nevada group has to collect 128,109 signatures to force a recall of Guinn, who was re-elected to his second term in 2002 with 68 percent of the vote.

Guinn released a statement Wednesday congratulating Schwarzenegger and citing challenges faced by governors across the nation.

"Every elected official has been called upon to make difficult decisions which are not always popular," Guinn said.

Hansen said the Nevada recall drive was hamstrung by Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller's rulings that two state Department of Motor Vehicles offices and the Clark County Government Center in Las Vegas did not have to allow signature-gathering inside buildings.

Steve George, spokesman for Heller, said state law lets officials direct signature-gatherers to a reasonable place inside or outside a government building.

County spokesman Erik Pappa said officials offered to let Hansen collect signatures outside the main door of the Clark County building, but Hansen refused. On Wednesday, officials let Hansen and his wife set up a table inside the building.

"He just wanted to challenge our policy to garner publicity for his recall effort," Pappa said.

The Nevada recall was launched after Guinn pushed for the largest tax increase in state history, an $836 million package passed after two contentious special legislative sessions and a legal battle that went to the state Supreme Court.