Enraged by political maneuvering that resulted in moderate Republican John Hambrick being elected speaker-designate of the state Assembly, Nevada conservatives are preparing a recall petition to kick Hambrick out of office. If this recall came to pass, Nevada would be following other states — in the past 21 years, five states have had legislative leaders face recall elections. But the tea party types should not hold their collective breath — because of the quirks of Nevada law, a recall is much harder to get on the ballot in the Silver State than in many other places in the United States. Using recall elections to target legislative leaders has been a popular, bipartisan undertaking in recent years. It started in 1994, when California Senate President Pro Tempore David Roberti, a Democrat who was already term-limited, faced a recall over his support for gun control legislation. Roberti easily survived the recall, although he lost the Democratic primary for state treasurer. California also got to see a recall used the next year against Doris Allen, a Republican and an independent, who was briefly made speaker after she switched her vote to support the Democrats retaining control of the Assembly. Allen stepped down from the speakership before the recall, and then was trounced in the ensuing election.
In the past few years, we’ve had a nice bounty, though. Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon, a Democrat, survived a recall vote by anti-tax groups in 2008. Arizona Senate President Russell Pearce, a Republican, was kicked out of office, primarily for his very conservative views on immigration. Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, a Republican, was caught up in the recall fervor against Gov. Scott Walker over his anti-union legislation. Fitzgerald easily survived the 2012 vote. Last year, Colorado joined the party, as Senate Majority Leader John Morse was removed over his support for gun control laws.
These facts should be comforting to the recall proponents. Its shows that voters elsewhere are willing to hit that reset button and kick out an elected official, even at the risk of costing their district the benefits that may come from having their local senator or assemblyman serve as legislative leader.