Nevada Republicans Wrap Up State Convention

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Senate hopeful Richard Ziser, who led a successful effort for anti-gay marriage wording in the Nevada Constitution, said the Democrat he hopes to unseat, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, may be powerful but, "He's using his power for evil things in the state of Nevada. Harry Reid is an obstructionist."

Secretary of State Dean Heller said one of his staffers joked that Sen. John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has changed his stance on various issues "as often as a Nevada prostitute changes her position."

Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., criticized "liberal politicians in Carson City" for holding up education funding in mid-2003 to get a record $833 million tax plan passed. He also criticized "judicial activism", a reference to the state Supreme Court ruling that temporarily allowed a simple majority vote on taxes.

State legislators ultimately passed the plan by a two-thirds' vote, with many Republicans joining Democrats in voting for the taxes. The tax legislation was promptly signed by GOP Gov. Kenny Guinn, who favored higher taxes.

The state Republicans adopted a platform that opposes taxpayer funding of abortion programs and supports "protection of life." But delegates balked at adding a plank to seek a return to higher moral standards in the country.

The platform makes no references to the nuclear waste dump that President Bush favors for southern Nevada. There had been platform committee discussions to weaken long-standing opposition to the dump, but top party leaders opposed the idea.

The platform also opposes any citizenship benefits for illegal aliens - a plank that sparked debate as one delegate, Herb Chandler of Washoe County, said the wording seemed like "a statement of bigotry." Dorothy Kosich of Washoe County added some immigrants may be avoiding the GOP because of what they see as its "exclusionary tactics."

But despite a move to tone down the plank, it was approved by the convention delegates in the same form that it arrived from the platform committee.

Party leaders said they tried to put aside platform differences that had divided the GOP in the past in order to re-elect Bush and help emphasize the importance of winning the war on terrorism.

Divisions between moderates and conservatives over a number of social platform planks at the 2000 state convention have diminished significantly since the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001, said ex-state treasurer Bob Seale, a former chairman of the Nevada GOP serving as chairman of this week's convention.

The nearly 300 delegates at the state convention were urged repeatedly to help deliver Nevada to Bush in November. Speakers making that pitch included Ralph Reed, the former head of the Christian Coalition and now southeast regional chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign, who said Friday that Kerry can't be trusted to lead the country in war.

Reed also said he depends on the Internet, conservative talk show hosts and the Fox News network to get his information about the world, and urged Nevadans to do the same. He said he can't remember the last time he watched a television newscast on major networks.

Bush won Nevada's four electoral votes in 2000 with 50 percent of the vote to Al Gore's 46 percent after Bill Clinton had carried the state both elections before. Voter registration in the state currently is split almost evenly with 360,503 Republicans and 351,813 Democrats.

The 33 Nevadans who will represent the state GOP at this summer's Republican National Convention in New York represent a who's who of the state party's top leaders and activists.

Among the delegates are Dema Guinn, wife of Gov. Kenny Guinn; Attorney General Brian Sandoval; state Treasurer Brian Krolicki; Secretary of State Dean Heller; and state Controller Kathy Augustine.

Party activists in the Nevada delegation include Beverly Willard, national committeewoman; and Joe Brown, national committeeman; Nancy Ernaut; and the newly elected state party chairwoman, Earlene Forsythe.